Northville is in line for historic recognition


NORTHVILLE -- In 1788, Samuel Olmstad canoed up the Sacandaga River, explored the land, established a home, and little by little, watched as his family and other settlers moved in around him.

Olmstad is considered the first resident of Northville, a village that current residents consider rich in history, character and charm.

Earlier this week, the village was recommended by state officials to be included on the State and National Registers of Historic Places -- both an honor and opportunity for villagers hoping to attract tourists, history buffs, and, perhaps, entrepreneurs looking to preserve a building or two.

"There are a lot of old historical buildings that we are proud of. We would like to keep it that way," said village historian Gail Cramer. "We are proud that we are accepted as a historical district."

State officials made the announcement Monday that Northville, along with 21 other properties, resources and districts, should be officially recognized as historically significant by the New York State Board for Historic Preservation.

According to a press release, once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places, then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.

"These sites represent notable parts of New York's past and I encourage travelers to visit them and learn about our state's great history," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Main, Bridge and Division streets, as well as First through Fifth streets, are the areas that are being considered "historically significant."

There are several benefits to the recognition.

Once approved, owners of contributing properties within the perimeter listed above who want to renovate have the potential to receive tax credit after the historical district is formed, as long as the changes do not alter the historic nature of the property.

A 20 percent federal tax credit, and a 20 percent state tax credit could be issued to qualifying businesses seeking to renovate.

Former Mayor James Groff, Northampton's town supervisor, said the promise of a potential tax break could encourage some of the local businesses to renovate their properties.

"They are supposed to get an income tax break, hopefully some of them will participate," Groff said.

State officials said Northville would be recognized as the "Northville Historic District," based on its "intact residential and commercial core of the village."

Cramer said in the early 19th century, the area was thick with forests, and attracted lumberjacks and their families. Roads, businesses and a post office were established.

Some of these buildings are still in operation, including the Northville-Northampton Historical Society Museum, which originated as a school house prior to 1865.

The Five and Dime store towers over other businesses on Main Street. The shop was built in 1914, and is still operating as a general variety store.

When the Great Sacandaga Lake was established in 1930, Cramer said a re-emergence of people materialized throughout the town, and made the area a prime tourism spot, especially during the summer.

Cramer is a native of the village, and said she has witnessed many changes to the roads, houses and businesses over the years.

She believes some changes are better than others, including the opening of Tops, a main stream grocery store on Main Street, and Rite Aid, both of which Cramer wished the village had thought twice about before knocking down buildings for them.

"The Tops was put in as a Grand Union first, before people thought about those buildings as historically significant. Buildings were torn down. The same with the drug store ... things happen before you realize it," Cramer said.

"We don't want to lose our Main Street," she added.

She hopes the historical recommendation brings awareness to residents and others about the importance of maintaining Northville's historic roots, and preserving the history of some of the buildings that are still standing.

"We love our town, it is a town that people love to visit," Cramer said.

Mayor-elect John Spaeth, along with the Community Collaboration Council spearheaded the initiative to get the village added to the historical registry.