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Area sites recognized for historic significance
The Barge Canal Historic District and the Northstar History Center in Hamlin are among 28 sites around the state nominated June 13 to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
According to a news release from the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Barge Canal Historic District includes the four historic branches of the state’s 20th century canal system: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals – all much enlarged versions of waterways that were initially constructed during the 1820s. The district spans 450 miles over 18 counties and encompasses 23,000 acres.
“I commend the New York State Board of Historic Preservation for its nomination of the Barge Canal to be listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places,” said Brian U. Stratton, Director of the New York State Canal Corporation. “All along New York’s canals are communities, both large and small, that share a sense of identity and common heritage that stems directly from the Canal System. These nominations give this marvel of American engineering its rightful place in history and further it as a mechanism for spurring tourism, economic growth and environmental restoration.”
The Erie Canal, first opened in 1825, was America’s most successful and influential manmade waterway, facilitating and shaping the course of settlement in the Northeast, Midwest, and Great Plains. The Erie Canal also connected the Atlantic Seaboard with territories west of the Appalachian Mountains and established New York City as the nation’s premier seaport and commercial center. New York’s canals were so successful, they were enlarged repeatedly during the 19th century to accommodate larger boats and increased traffic. The last and most ambitious enlargement from 1905-1918, resulted in the Barge Canal.
Documentation for the nomination of the Barge Canal was compiled over several years and included an inventory of more than 200 canal structures. The nomination was prepared by the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the National Park Service Heritage Documentation Program, and Canal Corporation in partnership with OPRHP.
“The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor was recognized as an iconic national treasure by Congress in 2000,” said Mike Caldwell, Regional Director of the National Park Service, Northeast Region. “Since then, the National Park Service has worked very closely with the State of New York and local communities to plan and implement preservation and revitalization opportunities. This historic district listing will further enhance the Erie Canalway’s stature as one of our nation’s greatest and most recognizable heritage assets.”
According to the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the benefits of listing the Barge Canal as a National Register Historic District include: further recognition and raising of the stature of the Canal System’s historical, engineering, and architectural significance to the state and nation, and increasing the visibility and marketing potential of the canal as a national and international tourism destination.
The Northstar History Center (School #11) in Hamlin is a rare, surviving mid-19th century rural school building which has served the community throughout its 170-year existence. It was built as a school in 1844 and was also used as a community center before becoming a local history center.
Once recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places. They are then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.