Portrait of a Building: The Wellesley Hotel

As I sit bundled up in my apartment waiting for the bomb cyclone storm to hit Northern New York, I’m thinking about all the awesome things I experienced in 2017, which is odd to say since 2017 seemed overall craptastic. Last year I started a new and interesting job as a reservist with FEMA. So basically, FEMA sends me and other reservists wherever we may be needed after a disaster hits the country. Since June, I’ve been living in Sacramento, California where I’ve had many opportunities to see much of what the State has to offer and watch in horror as California has been in an almost constant state-of-emergency because of the devastating wild fires. Thankfully, Sacramento has not been in the way of the fires but it still has been a shock to see and read the daily news about the fires while I’ve been in California.

In comparison, since living almost my entire life in Northern New York I’ve never had to really think about wild fires or be worried about them. We get the occasionally, seasonal flooding, which happened this past May and it was worst than normal; and our winters can be brutal. Since arriving home on December 22nd for a holiday vacation, the warmest it’s been was 26 degrees Fahrenheit….for comparison purposes, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dog-Nephews
Taking the dog-nephews outside when it was still “warm.”

As you can imagine, with the wild fires and flooding that California has faced in the past year, work has been super busy and stressful, meaning I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like on this history, adventure, and preservation blog. While working and living in California has been very different than what I’m use to in New York, I was able to visit a lot of amazing places that I plan on sharing on this blog in the new year- most of those places have been away from the wild fires.

Right now though, I want to share the one awesome consulting project I had time for, which was a Part 1 of the Historic Preservation Certificate Application for the Wellesley Hotel located in the community of Thousand Island Park.

The Wellesley Hotel

Over the summer on my first break home from California, I spent two days in the Park, researching and photographing the Wellesley Hotel, as well as visiting old friends. Side Note: I’ve been working on odd projects in Thousand Island Park since I interned there during the summer of 2013.

To complete a Historic Preservation Certificate Application, it’s very much like a National Register nomination: basic information on the property is needed, as well as a detailed building description and a statement of significance (AKA: Why #ThisPlaceMatters). If a property is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it makes the job a little bit easier. In the case of the Wellesley Hotel, the property is part of the Thousand Island Park Historic District, which means the documentation for the application has to show that the individual property contributes (historically, thematically, etc.) to the historic district. Long story short, the Wellesley Hotel does contribute to the historic district of the community. I’d like to even push it so far as to say the entire Thousand Islands region.

The following are some snippets of the writing I did for the application for the Wellesley Hotel as well as photographs I’ve taken of the property over the years.

Description of Property

The Wellesley Hotel, in the community of Thousand Island Park, in the township of Orleans, Jefferson County, New York, is a highly intact 3 ½ story wooden frame structure with neoclassical elements, constructed in 1903 as an annex to the Columbian Hotel. There is a small 1-story addition located within the crook of the “L” shaped plan; this addition appears to be original to the property. The hotel occupies a central location at the corner of Rainbow Street and St. Lawrence Avenue within the historic community of Thousand Island Park; listed in the National Register of Historic Places 1982. The most prominent feature of the Wellesley Hotel is its two-story wrap-around veranda that extends from the south facade to the entirety of the east facade. The veranda on the first floor has Tuscan columns that support the roofed second story porch that extends into a balcony on the east facade. The interior of the Wellesley Hotel follows the original floor plans with the first and second floors currently in use. Elements seen with the historic hotel include pressed metal ceilings, hard wood floors, a brick fireplace on the first floor, a central staircase that leads to all floors including the attic and basement, and inter-connected rooms on the second and third floors. Since its construction, the Wellesley Hotel’s exterior has had some changes. The east facade porch and balcony were removed sometime from 1930’s-1980’s; it has been restored since then. There has also been the addition of fire escapes, which are currently in the north and west facades of the building. Other exterior changes include a wheel chair ramp that has been added to the north facade, along with a loading dock that leads into the one-story addition in the back. The interior has remained virtually untouched. The first and second floors have been restored and are currently used as a restaurant, with rooms on the first floor being used as hotel rooms and rental spaces to local businesses. The third floor and attic are currently not used and are in need of restoration. The Wellesley Hotel is in good condition with the only alterations to the property being general maintenance throughout the years; the restoration of the east facade porch has been done to using historic photographs to match the original porch. The maintenance changes and restoration of the east facade porch do not detract from the overall integrity of the Wellesley Hotel in terms of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.

South and East Elevations
The Wellesley Hotel has changed very little since it was first constructed in 1903. Throughout the years, there have been some changes but most recently the Thousand Island Park Corporation has been working ot properly restore the hotel.
North and West Elevations
This is the back side of the Hotel. The smaller, one story section is a later addition for the modern kitchen.
A Phone Booth
I’m not sure if that payphone actually works or not…

Why #ThisPlaceMatters

The Thousand Island Park Historic District (1982) contains an outstanding concentration of substantially intact late nineteenth and early twentieth century resort architecture. Embellished with elaborate and often unique details, the closely grouped structures in the planned campground represent a significant phase in the history of the internationally recognized resort community in the upper St. Lawrence River. The neoclassical Wellesley Hotel contributes to the significance and context of the Thousand Island Park Historic District because it harkens back to a time when the community was a summer resort destination. The Thousand Island Park was founded in 1874 by Reverend John F. Dayan as a Methodist summer camp. The Thousand Islands region began to evolve into a summer haven for vacationers escaping the dirty industrial cities such as Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York City. Through the years the community as a whole has survived through a number of difficulties including: devastating fires, financial hardship during the Great Depression, and the effects of both World Wars. Today, the Thousand Island Park Historic District maintains its historic character with the Wellesley Hotel as the heart of the surviving commercial block of the Thousand Island Park.

Thousand Island Park

In the early 1870’s the Thousand Islands gained national attention, when George Pullman, the developer of the Pullman sleeping car, invited President Ulysses S. Grant to his summer home on “Pullman Island,” located close to Alexandria Bay.1 News that the President of the United States had visited the area put the Islands on the map as an elite tourist destination for the upper and middle classes throughout the 1880’s until the early 20th century. Tourists and summer inhabitants of the Thousand Islands began to be grouped together under the term, “summer people,” referring to the fact that they only lived in the area during the summer months.2

The Thousand Islands and other similar summer resort areas grew in popularity during the Gilded Age for a number of factors. Reasons for the interest in summer vacation spots like the Thousand Islands, included the rise of industrialist capitalism; concerns for health and social issues within inner cities combined with the romantic movement and the celebration of nature; and rapid improvements to modes of transportation of railroads and steamboats.3 The Thousand Islands offered many opportunities to enjoy nature such as fishing, hunting, and boating. Entire families would visit the region, who would engage in more social activities, such as cruises on private yachts and dinner parties at local hotels like the Frontenac and the Columbian.

Not all people came to the islands for fanciful vacations, a number of summer people visited to attend Methodist or Baptist summer camps on a number of the islands. Thousand Island Park was originally one of those revival camps founded by Methodist Reverend John F. Dayan in 1875. Methodist revival camps in the early 19th century lasted one-two days and were located in the backwoods. After the Civil War, these types of church campgrounds and meetings were shunned by the churches because there was not enough teaching or rational thought. The Methodists moved towards more permanent and elaborate campgrounds that offered an extended camp meeting for specific purposes; this was in part inspired by the Methodist churches establishment of colleges throughout the country. An example of this new type of summer campground was the Chautauqua Institute located near Jamestown, New York. The Institute was established as a center for training Sunday School teachers.4

As early as 1867, Reverend Dayan began thinking and planning a summer camp in the Thousand Islands, with the camp’s main focus on encouraging interactions between the peoples of the United States and Canada 5 It was not until 1872, that Reverend Dayan really began to form his ideas and for two years worked to gain support for the project from various people. In 1874, Dayan was ready to get the approval of the plan from his colleagues and superiors. At the spring meeting of Methodist leaders in Carthage, New York at the Northern New York Conference of the Methodist Church, Reverend Dayan garnered enough support to a plan an excursion in the Thousand Islands in August of 1874. The purpose of the visit was to find a site for the future camp grounds. The visit happened as planned with 50 clergymen and laymen from both Canada and the United States meeting in Alexandria Bay to find a site. The large group really only viewed one site, Victoria Point, located on Wellesley Island- today known as Westminster Park. It was concluded by the group that another visit would be needed to explore other sites. A committee of 11 were chosen to view other locations and to establish connections with the ship routes and rail lines. The second visit occurred in September of the same year. This time the smaller group found the perfect spot. It was located also on Wellesley Island, just on the opposite end of the island away from Victoria Point.6

Within the first year of existence the Thousand Island Camp Meeting Association had not only purchased the land on Wellesley Island but they had constructed a “dining hall,” a shop and warehouse, a trustee’s office, and constructed a tabernacle tent. The Association decided to sell lots 40×80 feet to subscribers and those interested in purchasing a lot within the community. The first lots were sold June 9, 1875 and all were sold, meaning more of the land had to be surveyed and created into more lots to sell. Lot owners established shelters, mostly tents but a number of the lot holders built crude cottages. Attendees of the summer camp had opportunities to listen to daily sermons, lectures, and attend meetings.7

From there the Park community grew steadily and was transformed from a “tent city” to a permanent village of residences. During the 1880’s the Park saw management changes and a shift in focus from a campground to a Christian summer resort. Other developments within the community signifying this shift included the Thousand Island Camp Meeting Association changing their name to the Thousand Island Park Association in 1879. Then in 1881, Reverend Dayan resigned from the Thousand Island Park Association and that same year the Association began planning for the construction of a grand hotel. The Park newspapers also reflect these changes were in the 1880’s advertisements could be seen for schools such as Bordentown Female College, Ives Seminary, Syracuse University, and Cazenovia Seminary, along with advertisements for the Pulpit Bible. These types of advertisements slowly gave way to those for hotels, Dey Brothers Co. grocery store, and Watertown Boat and Canoe Co.8

Hotels in the Park

The construction of the Thousand Island Park Hotel lasted from 1881-83 and was designed by architect Noah Dillenbeck. The hotel was four stories tall with a three story colonnade surrounding the hotel along with a central tower with a mansard roof. The hotel had a Second Empire Style feel to it with its mansard roof, bracketed balconies, and french windows. This hotel lasted until August 21, 1890 when it burned down within 45 minutes, killing one person and destroying 13 other buildings. The Association decided to rebuild the hotel and by 1892, the Columbian Hotel was open for business on the same site as the previous hotel. The Columbian was designed by Syracuse architect, Archimedes Russell. The hotel was also four floors and could accommodate 300-400 people. While the Thousand Island Park Hotel had a distinctive architectural style, the Columbian did not and had a picturesque castle feel to it.9 The Thousand Island Park Hotel and the Columbian were two of the many hotels dotted along the Thousand Islands offering accommodations to the growing numbers of summer people.

The popularity of Thousand Island Park as a summer destination meant the Columbian was frequently packed with guests. By 1902, the Park Association had already begun to discuss and plans for another hotel in the community. A 1902 news article in the Watertown Reunion, estimated that the new hotel would be completed during the summer of 1903 for $15,000 and would be located on the site of the New England Dining Room.10 The Hotel Wellesley was completed in June of 1903 and located at the corner of Rainbow and St. Lawrence Avenue, diagonally from the Columbian adding to the commercial center of Thousand Island Park.

The Wellesley Hotel was different in appearance from the Columbian’s picturesque castle. In the documents related to the Wellesley, the architect is never named but they were inspired by the neoclassical style that was in vogue throughout the nation after the Chicago World Fair. The three-story structure’s most prominent feature is the wrap-around porch veranda on the first floor with a balcony porch above that supported by Tuscan columns that also wraps around the south and east facades. There are Georgian prototype dormers spaced around the roof. The Wellesley Hotel added another 40 rooms for guests to rent during their stay in the Park.11 The Association leased the hotel to Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Rogers, the first proprietors.12 The first floor of the hotel consisted of a main entrance on the east facade to the hotel that lead into the hotel’s lobby with main access to the upper floors, along with a dining room and parlor. Within the first year of the hotel being opened, the first floor of the Wellesley Hotel was used for the 22nd Reunion of the 14th New York Heavy Artillery in 1904.13

Lobby
When you walk through the screen doors of the east facade of the Hotel, you enter into the lobby area. The stairs that are visible are the main staircase that leads to the upper floors.
Key Rack
This key rack is located in the lobby of the Hotel and while all the keys may not be original the rack and numbering is.

Lobby and Dining Room

Dining Room
The Hotel as you can guess does not have a lot of interior lighting options. The Hotel can be seem very dark given that it’s sunny outside.
Dining Room and Built in Cabinetry
A view of the other side of the dining hall where there is built in cabinetry. Other awesome details include the original lights and the tin-pressed ceiling.

The Wellesley Hotel does not feature often in the local papers but it can be assumed business was as usual during the summer with both the Columbian and Wellesley Hotels being in operation in the early years of the 20th century. All of that changed on June 9, 1912. In the mid-afternoon, a fire had broken out in the store of H. H. Haller. What exactly caused the fire is unclear since the shop actually was closed for the day because of a funeral. The fire quickly spread and grew beyond the capabilities of the Thousand Island Park residents and fire brigade. The Columbian Hotel caught fire, spreading the flames through the eastern portion of the community. By the time the flames had been put out by the efforts of the residents and the help of Clayton and Alexandria Bay’s fire departments, the Columbian was completely destroyed, along with Haller’s store, three schools, a chapel, and 98 cottages. 500 people were homeless and the losses in the community were estimated at $500,000.

It was reported by local papers that the hotel would be rebuilt and that there would be “a better Columbian than ever next season.”14 Even with sensationalized news about the fire and the fact that the “…fire practically wiped out this famous summer outing place,” as stated in 1912 article about the disaster entitled “Terrible Holocaust,” the community survived and so did the Wellesley Hotel. In local papers, it was reported that the Wellesley was saved by the quick thinking of 17 year old, Paul Crouch, who stayed on the hotel’s roof, wrapped in wet blankets, to shovel off burning shingles. Crouch was finally relived by other residents and was unconscious for several hours after; Crouch did survive.15

A year after the fire, the Wellesley Hotel had minor renovations, to equip and update portions of the structure with to follow newly established fire code requirements including fire escapes and ensuring the doors would swing outwards.16 The hotel continued to be the main hotel at the Thousand Island Park, the Columbian was never rebuilt. The Columbian fire marks the beginning of the slow decline of not only Thousand Island Park but the region as a premier summer destination.

Throughout the 1910’s the Thousand Islands saw a decline due to a variety of reasons, including multiple large fires that destroyed a number of the popular hotels, such as the Columbian and the Frontenac on Round Island. These hotels were at times considered the social center of the Thousand Islands and after they burned in 1911 and 1912. The growing popularity of the automobile and lack of good roads to reach the Thousand Islands also negatively affected the region. The automobile allowed people to travel freely and not be limited to one area during the entire summer season. The deaths of the wealthiest summer people, including George Pullman, helped add in the lack of interest in the Thousand Islands. Political issues also put a damper on ability and means to visit summer resort areas especially World War I, which put an end of the popular steamboats because of government uses and shortages of supplies. This was followed by the stock market crash of 1929 and followed by the Great Depression that followed.17

In 1922, the Thousand Island Park Association made plans to build another floor to the Wellesley Hotel that would have added an additional 20 rooms. It is unclear what happened but the addition was never constructed given that photos of the Wellesley only ever show it as a three-story structure.18 This also indicates the financial problems the region was facing and the decline of vacationers during the summer months. The Wellesley finally closed for good in the early 1930’s during the Great Depression. The hotel was only used for special events and occasions during the years until the 1980’s when it was finally reopened by James A. Finger. The opening of the Wellesley Hotel allowed the property to be used again for accommodations and as a restaurant.19 Since then the Hotel has remained in business owned by the Thousand Island Park Corporation and leased to proprietors to run the hotel and restaurant.

North-South Hallway
This is the north-south wing of the 2nd floor of the Hotel. The rooms on this wing are used for a number of small, locally owned shops.
East-West Hallway
This is the east-west hallway of the 2nd floor of the Hotel. The guest rooms are located in this wing.
Restored Guest Room
The Wellesley Hotel currently has five suites/rooms available for guests to stay in. While visiting in August I stayed in The Narrows suite, which has two bedrooms and a bathroom. It was the only one available at the time.
Connector Door
The rooms of The Narrows suite are connected via the bathroom. All of the former guest rooms of the Wellesley Hotel are connected like this.
Third Floor Room
The third floor of the Wellesley Hotel still needs to be renovated like the lower floors have been. The Thousand Island Park Corporation is in the process of making the restoration work a reality.
Attic Wall
The attic of the Hotel would have been used probably for housing employees during the summer months. Some of the wooden beams have “graffiti.”
Attic Wall
Another bit of “graffiti” in the attic. The last time I was in the attic of the Hotel was in 2013, while I was an intern for the Thousand Island Park Landmark Society.

Conclusion

The Thousand Island Park was listed as a historic district because the community is an outstanding collection of substantially intact late nineteenth and early twentieth century resort architecture. The Wellesley Hotel has been a landmark within the community of Thousand Island Park since its doors first opened in 1903. The hotel highlights the past and the changes the summer community went through as a Methodist summer camp community that evolved into a premier summer resort. Thousand Island Park as a whole reflects the historic changes that occurred throughout the entire region from 1870 to 1915, a period that is known as the Gilded Age. The Wellesley Hotel is in every way, a significant part of that story, surviving terrible fires and the community’s economical hardships, to exist today as the last remaining Gilded Age hotel within Thousand Island Park and the region as a whole.

Fast forward to today, the Part 1 of the Historic Preservation Certificate Application was officially approved by the National Park Service in November 2017. This means that should the owner of the Wellesley Hotel move forward with their plans on renovation of the upper floors of the Hotel, Parts 2 and 3 of the Certificate Application would need to be completed. Those parts are in regards to the actual proposed work through documentation of the current conditions of the Hotel and then the Hotel after the work has been completed.

References 

1Susan Smith, The First Summer Peoples: The Thousand Islands 1650-1910 (Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 1993), 82.

2Laurie Ann Nulton, “The Golden Age of the Thousand Islands: Its People and its Castles” (M.A. diss., Georgetown University, 1981) 10.

3Stephen J. Hornsby, “The Gilded Age and the Making of Bar Harbor,” Geographical Review 83 no. 4 (1993): 455, http://www.jstor.org/stable/215826 (accessed April 9, 2016).

4 Helen Jacox and Eugene Kleinhans, Thousand Island Park: One Hundred Years, and Then Some, A Centennial Year History; with “The Study, Architecture of Thousand Island Park,”by Paul Malo (Valhalla Printing Co. T.I.P. N.Y.., 1975 by the Centennial Book Project, Thousand Island Park, New York), 27.

5Jacox and Kleinhans, Thousand Island Park, 27.

6Ibid

7Jacox and Kleinhans, Thousand Island Park, 29.

8Jacox and Kleinhans, Thousand Island Park, 78.

9Jacox and Kleinhans, Thousand Island Park, 223.

10“Another Summer Hotel to be Built at 1000 Island Park,” Watertown Reunion, July 26, 1902.

11Jacox and Kleinhans, Thousand Island Park, 223.

12“Improvements at Thousand Island Park,” Watertown Reunion, June 10, 1903.

13“A Successful Reunion Veteran’s of 14th Heavy Artillery at TI Park,” Watertown Reunion, July 16, 1904.

14“Terrible Holocaust,” Watertown Re-Union, July 13, 1912.

15“$500,000 Fire Sweeps Thousand Island Park,” The Summary, July 13, 1912.

16“Better Protection: Fire Marshall Issues Sweeping Mandate,” Cape Vincent Eagle, June 19, 1913.

17Susan W. Smith, A History of Recreation in the 1000 Islands, (St. Lawrence Islands Nation Park: Parks Canada, 1976), http://www.oliverkilian.com/ecology/thousand-islands/island-insights/recreation/recreation.html#Hotels and Resorts (accessed August 8, 2016).

18The Hotel News,” The Hotel World: The Hotel and Travelers Journal 95 (1922), https://books.google.com/books?num=13&id=aNVLAQAAMAAJ&q=thousand+island+park#v=snippet&q=thousand%20island%20park&f=false (accessed August 9, 2017), 25.

19Roswell P. Trickey, “Hotel, Closed 30 Years, Opens,” Watertown Daily Times, August 25, 1984.

Board and Batten!?! What is this Jargon?!?

This month’s jargon term is, “board and batten” or “board-and-batten,” depending on whether you’re using the term as an adjective or noun; for the record, hyphenate when using the term as an adjective. Every now and then, this type of exterior siding many be called, “barn siding,” because many barns across North America are constructed with this.

The actual definition of “board and batten” from my handy-dandy Guide to Vermont Architecture is this, “Exterior siding of flush wide, vertical planks with narrow wooden strips (battens) covering the joints.”

Historically, board and batten would refer to siding built of wood but given today’s building material options, this siding can be made of plastic, metal, or even fiberglass. Board-and-batten siding can be seen on informal styled architecture, think country homes, churches, and/or barns. During the Victorian era it would have been seen as an architectural feature on Carpenter Gothic homes.

So, board-and-batten siding has an interesting back story. Basically, people built in this style because of a lack of materials plus it helps create a stronger and more energy efficient wall. You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about…

Imagine yourself, a recent arrival to the New World. There’s extensive, old growth forests that you’re not familiar with; England really doesn’t have forests like this anymore. You are also in desperate need of a shelter for yourself and family. Cutting down trees and building a log house would be the easiest and quick; you only have axes and saws and there are no saw mills yet built. The log house is easy to build, for the most part, the issue is that the felled tress do no exactly fit together, so there are gaps that you and your family fill in with moss, leaves, sticks, and mud. It mostly does the job…but there’s still a cold draft during the winter. By the way, you’re not the only family that needs to build a quick home plus there’s also an extreme logging occurring in the New World with lumber being shipped back to Europe. The forests are slowly depleted but houses still need to be built because of the increasing numbers of colonists. Eventually a town is built up around where you and your family settled and a saw mill in constructed. Because of the lack of trees and a new sawmill, newer settlers are building there houses out of planks and strips of wood. Out of one felled log, a lot of planks can be planed, meaning it is most cost effective. The seams between vertical standing planks can easily be covered with narrow wood strips (batten), keeping the cold out during the winter.

For an actual visual of a log home located in Northern New York, check out this link: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20110108/DCO01/301089932. The article is about an actual log cabin that was reconstructed to represent the home of the first settler in Parishville, Luke Brown and his family. In the photos accompanying the article, you can see the space in between the stacked logs.

Check out the following images to see buildings constructed with board-and-batten siding. There are no spaces in between planks!

Centennial
This patriotic home is one of the many summer cottages located in Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island in the 1000 Islands Region. The battens are painted red while the boards are white. The home was constructed in 1876. The cottage is an example of Eastlake wood detailing, stick style elements, and I would call it Carpenter Gothic.
The Ol' Station
This is a convenient store located in Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks. This photo was taken way back in 2015 on the way home from a Dave Matthews concert in Saratoga Springs. As of this post, the store might be permanently closed…but hopefully the building is still there and maybe a new tenant is in the building.

Buildings from Upper Canada Village:

Blacksmith and Wheelwright
This is a building seen at Upper Canada Village. The living history museum consists of a number of buildings that have been moved from around Canada to form this village showing what life would have been like in the 1800’s. This building combines board and batten on the upper story with squared log siding on the first floor. There are a number of buildings with this combination of siding at Upper Canada Village.
Union Cheese Shop
This is another building at Upper Canada Village. The cheese shop shows 19th century techniques and uses period equipment to produce cheese that can be purchased at the Village’s store.
Masonic Lodge
This is the Masonic Lodge at Upper Canada Village. It is a 1863 building that was moved to the Village in 2008 from the Village of Kars in south-west Ottawa. The building is constructed on board and batten.

Hallstatt, Austria:

A Building in Hallstatt
This is a building located in Hallstatt, Austria. Hallstatt is located in Upper Austria and is on the western shore of Hallstatter See (lake). The village and surrounding area is a World Heritage Site because of it’s wonderful history and culture. I’m not very sure about the history of the building or it’s current use. I assume it might be an inn along with being someone’s permanent residence.
Another Hallstatt Building
This building is also located in Hallstatt, Austria. It looks like it could be a barn but I have a feeling it might be another house. Hallstatt is part of Salzkammergut, in the eastern Alps. The village has a very rich history spanning all the way back to the Iron Age because of the salt mines. The town suffered from massive fire in 1750 that destroyed most of the wooden buildings. The center of the town is all in Baroque style, while buildings away from the center like this and the other building are wooden with board-and-batten siding.
Batten Door
This is a door I saw while walking around Hallstatt. It is considered a batten door, most likely on the other side of the door are some kind of planks holding the battens in place to be a door.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or have any board-and-batten sided buildings in your neighborhood!

Thanks for reading!

Further Reading and Resources:

1) An article about Board and Batten- a brief history, how it is currently used in architecture, etc. :   http://circaoldhouses.com/circa-school-board-batten/

2) A nice little history lesson on the siding: 

http://www.all-about-siding.com/board-and-batten-history.html

3) Another great article on what board-and-batten siding is:

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-board-and-batten-177663

4) Like always, my handy dandy resource for architectural jargon is: 

“The Historical Architecture of Vermont: Guide to Vermont Architecture,” Curtis B. Johnson, editor and Elsa Gilbertson, Principal Author, published by: the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1996.

The Great New York State Fair

When it comes to fairs, I happen to be biased, like extremely biased, and I only consider there to be one fair that’s worth visiting and that’s the Great New York State Fair. Now you might be thinking to yourself, “The fair ended weeks ago, why is she writing about it just now!?!?!” Well, there is reason behind my late post, it’s because the first New York State Fair was held in 1841 on September 29 and 30, which means for those of you quick at math, the Great New York State Fair is celebrating it’s 175th birthday yesterday and today!

On the other hand, there’s probably a group of you reading this thinking your own state or county fair is waaaaaayyyyy better than the Great New York State Fair, maybe it is… though probably not. Anyways, here’s a photo of me at the State Fair in the first year of my life, I’ve basically been to the fair every year of my life, which is probably why I’m all about the Great New York State Fair.

001
This photo is from August 1990….I was like about 8 months old. This is reason why I consider the Great New York State Fair, the only fair to visit. Blame my parents.

So now for some historical information! The New York State Fair website has a really great time line of the what went down at the Fair every year and it’s development since 1841.All of the history that proceeds, comes from that website http://nysfair.ny.gov/.

The cool thing about the Great New York State Fair is that its the oldest fair in the country. The New York State Agricultural Society held the first Fair in Syracuse in 1841 and the fair consisted of speeches, animal exhibits, a very popular plow contest, and even samples of manufactured foods for the home and farm. The attendance numbers were estimated to be somewhere between 10,000-15,000 people.

The other exciting thing about the early years of the State Fair is that it traveled around New York for example 1842 saw the Fair in Albany. Between 1842 and 1889 other cities the Fair visited included: Auburn, Buffalo, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Utica, and even Watertown! The Fair stopped traveling around the State in 1889 because at that time the Syracuse Land Co. donated a 100 acre tract of land for the Society to use permanently for the Fair in Geddes, NY.

Between 1889 and the late 1890’s the Agricultural Society worked on constructing permanent buildings on the land because of the costs the Society soon was in debt. When this happened, the State purchased the ground in 1899 and began to manage the Fair and the State made a long-term building plan, the first building being constructed in 1908 (today’s Center of Progress Building). During the following two decades other permanent buildings and attractions were completed such as the Coliseum in 1923, the Iroquois Village in 1928, and the Arts and Home Center in 1932.

sept_9_1915_syracuse_union
Image from the Syracuse Union for the State Fair, September 9, 1915
image_horse_racing
This is another image from the Syracuse Union, which was actually a German newspaper. This image comes from August 5, 1915.
map_1918
A map from June 1918 that was printed in the Syracuse Union.

The Fair has went through a number of changes throughout it’s history especially in regards to it’s name and how long the Fair lasts during the summer. Up until 1938, the Fair had been referred to as the New York State Fair, then the name was changed to the New York State Agricultural and Industrial Exposition and it lasted for 14 days! From 1942 until 1947, there was no State Fair; the grounds were used as a military base during World War 2. The Fair made a return for 6 days in 1948. In the 1960’s the name of the Fair changed from the New York State Exposition to the New York State Fair. The Fair increased to 10 days in 1978 and then finally in 1990 was increased to the 12 days in length, which is how long it currently lasts.

Most recently, the New York State Fair has been going through a $50 million redevelopment that includes new utilities, the removal of the Grand Stand, more RV parking, a new main entrance, and a larger midway. For more information of the Great New York State Fair check out their website: http://nysfair.ny.gov/. All of the historical information about the fair came from this website and there is a lot more information on the redevelopment of the Fair.

The following are images from my visit this year to the Fair.

 

If you have any comments or questions about the Great New York State Fair, leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading! More blog posts to come soon!

 

 

 

 

Shingle Style: What is This Jargon!?!

I’m currently working on a National Register nomination for a privately owned home in the Thousand Islands on Bluff Island. Bluff Island is located in the township of Clayton, New York. The property is a shingle-style summer cottage that was constructed in 1901 for a family from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The family, the Robinson family, lived on the island every summer until 1948 when, Anne Holdship Robinson, the last owner of the home passed away.

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This is a side view of the summer cottage located on Bluff Island. The home overlooks the St. Lawrence River and faces south towards mainland New York. The current owners are currently restoring the home, which includes replacing some of the shingles that are beyond repair.
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This is a close-up of the shingles seen under the covered porch area. The porch wraps around the first floor of the home. Shingles in the porch area are being saved because they are in such wonderful condition and show minimum weathering.

This seemed like a great opportunity to show off some wonderful images of shingle-style homes I’ve seen throughout my adventures. Looking through my photo collections, I realized almost all of my images of shingle style properties are located in the Thousand Islands, which is unsurprising because the style is commonly found in seaside summer resort areas such as Newport, Long Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Thousand Islands.

The shingle-style, which is sometimes considered the “seaside style,” evolved and borrowed elements from other 19th century architectural styles such as Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and even Richardsonian Romanesque.i

These shingle-style homes were typically built as summer cottages for America’s elite who had the means to build homes that would only be lived in a few months of the year. Architects who received commissions to design these homes included McKim, Mead, and White, H. H. Richardson, and William Ralph Emerson.ii

These architects designed homes that varied greatly because of the influence of elements from Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles: porches, asymmetrical massing, gambrel roofs, columns, Romanesque arches, irregular shapes, and towers could all be seen on Shingle style homes.iii The key element that hold all of these architectural parts together, are the extensive use of wooden shingles for exterior cladding. The use of the wooden shingles created a sense of a smooth, uninterrupted surface of these massive, irregular homes without getting caught up on the details.iv

The following images highlight a number of shingle-style buildings I have seen in the Thousand Islands and there is one home located in Potsdam, NY that does incorporate shingles.

If you have any awesome shingle-style homes in your neighbor share them in the comments below!

Footnotes:

i. Mark Gelerneter, A History of American Architecture: Buildings in Their Cultural and Technological Context (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2001), 181.

ii. Ibid.

iii. Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopp, Inc., 1991), 290.

iv. Gelerneter, 181.

The National Register of Historic Places

This post is wordy so be prepared but at the same time you’re going to learn some really awesome things about the National Register of Historic Places. Plus, I promise there’s a reason for all the words (it’s going to help with the next picture-filled post obviously).

Even though I have a master’s degree in historic preservation, I’m currently not employed full time as a preservationist. I work full time at Lowe’s in Potsdam, NY and when opportunities arise, I get hired as a preservation consultant. Those opportunities in Northern New York are few and far between but luckily this blog keeps me occupied!

One of the services I have educational and professional experience in is writing National Register nominations. On a side note, I’m not sure if that needs to be capitalized or not, but let’s be honest the National Register is kind of a big deal.

Anyways, the next post I’m planning on sharing is about a structure in Potsdam, NY that I submitted a National Register application for and was recently listed on the Register!!!!!

It’s exciting, trust me! Here’s a photo of the building that I’ll talk about next time, to hopefully get you all through this long post.

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The Potsdam Civic Center Complex. Newly listed on both the State and National Register of Historic Places. YASSS!

But before that picture-filled post, I figured I’d share a little bit more information about the National Register of Historic Places and what it means for a building to be listed.


What are the State and National Registers?

Hold the phone! There’s both a State and a National Register. What is this confusion!?!?!?

The National Register of Historic Places became a thing through the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The Act established preservation policy and created a network of state historic preservation offices (aka: SHPO) to carry out the Act. It’s all considered a part of the National Park Service.

During that year, the New York State Historic Trust was created to oversee the state historic sites, it established the New York SHPO, and started to develop statewide preservation programs. By 1972, the Historic Trust was renamed the Division for Historic Preservation.

In the words of the National Park Service, the National Register of Historic Places, “is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources.”


What Kind of Properties Can Be Listed?

Properties are considered eligible for the Register if they meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. That includes examining the property’s age, significance, and integrity.

First off a property has to be old. Not super old but at least 50 years old. This means what is considered “old” is always changing. For example modern style houses! While not always looking historic actually can be significant enough to be placed on the National Register once they hit the big 5-0.

Significance relates to whether or not the property is associated with events, activities, or developments that were important in the past (Criteria A). Or with the lives of important people (Criteria B). Or significant architecturally, landscape history, or engineering achievements (Criteria C). Or lastly, does it have the potential to yield information through archaeological investigation (Criteria D)? These are the four criteria for evaluation of a property’s significance in relation to American history.

While integrity refers to whether or not the property looks and feels like it did based on why it is significance. These two concepts are directly related to each other.

For example, let’s say a property is potentially going to be listed on the State and National Registers because it’s a historic farmhouse that George Washington vacationed at during the 1700’s. Should Washington have the ability to time travel to 2016 and go to this farmhouse, hopefully he would be able to tell that it’s the same property he was staying at almost 200 years ago.

The things that we look at to determine integrity is location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.

So back to Washington’s vacation farmhouse. Washington arrives in 2016 for another vacation there. He is able to find the house because it’s still in the same spot; there is still a working farm (maybe smaller than he remembers); there’s still a bunch of barns and land for the farmer and farm animals to live happily; the farmhouse still looks like it did in the 1700’s when Washington was there (except now the interior has been completely renovated).

Overall, the farmhouse still looks and feels like it did when Washington first vacationed there in the 1700’s, which means it still has a lot of it’s integrity and would be a good candidate for the Registers. Looking further into this property it could be nominated based on it’s connection to Washington (Criterion B. an important person) and because of it’s a working farm from the 1700’s (Criterion C. architectural significance).


New York State and National Register Goals

Currently, the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation through the State Historic Preservation Office is encouraging nomination proposals in the following three categories:

  1. Nomination Proposals that Promote Economic Revitalization Goals (example: Federal historic rehabilitation tax credit projects; heritage tourism and recreation).
  2. Nomination Proposals that General Broad Public Support Goals (example: Projects sponsored by other municipalities; contribute to planning and education).
  3. Nomination Proposals that Contribute to Planning and Education Goals (example: Projects that foster pride in community history and/or foster awareness of historic properties).

 


Who Can List a Building?

Any person or organization may prepare a nomination in the form of a completed registration form.

Keep in mind though, if the process is unclear (ex. Terminology) it may be in the person’s or organization’s best interest to contact a representative from SHPO or a consultant for professional assistance.


What Does the Process Include?

The first steps in the nomination process here in New York State would be to request, complete, and return a State and National Registers Program Applicant Form and a Historic Inventory Form.

From there the State would decide if the Civic Center is eligible to be listed on the State and National Registers, and assign staff to work further with the Village and the person/people writing the National Register Nomination, to complete the forms.


Some Common Misconceptions

There are NO restrictions placed on private owners of registered properties

National Register listing does not lead to public acquisition or require public access.

A property will not be listed if, for individual properties, the owner objects, or for districts, a majority of property owners object.

National Register listing does not automatically invoke local historic district zoning or local landmark designation.


What are the Results of Listing?

Properties that are listed are included in the National Register Archives, which are a public, search-able database that allows everyone to see what historic properties we have here in New York.

Getting a building listed on the National Register also can create a snowball effect, where more people become interested in their local history and start looking at ways to list other local properties or even how to use a community’s history for heritage tourism.

There’s also the ability to order a bronze plaque that distinguishes your property as listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Lastly, there are grant and tax credits that encourage rehabilitation of properties that are listed on the State and National Register.

The State and National Registers of Historic Places are a wonderful way to highlight and celebrate our built environment!


For More Information:

New York State Division for Historic Preservation: http://nysparks.com/shpo/

New York State CRIS. This is New York State’s search-able database for all the listed historic properties. I use this database A LOT when ever I’m researching historic properties in other parts of the State. For example for my posts on Rochester and Albany, I used information from National Register Nominations I found through this database: http://nysparks.com/shpo/online-tools/

National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm

Historic Preservation Website via the National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/historicpreservation/index.htm

Path Through History. This is a New York State Program but it’s pretty cool. It highlights historic sites, events, places, parks, etc. all throughout the State: http://paththroughhistory.iloveny.com/

The National Trust of Historic Preservation: http://www.preservationnation.org/

If you have any further questions about the National Register of Historic Places just send me a message or comment on this post!

Thanks for reading!