Cooperstown, New York

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Cooperstown, New York
Village
Main Street, part of the Cooperstown Historic District
Main Street, part of the Cooperstown Historic District
Cooperstown, New York is located in New York
Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown, New York
Location in the state of New York
Coordinates: 42°41′50″N 74°55′37″W / 42.69722°N 74.92694°W / 42.69722; -74.92694Coordinates: 42°41′50″N 74°55′37″W / 42.69722°N 74.92694°W / 42.69722; -74.92694
Country United States
State New York
County Otsego
Government
 • Mayor Jeff Katz
Area
 • Total 1.8 sq mi (4.7 km2)
 • Land 1.6 sq mi (4.2 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation 1,227 ft (374 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,852
 • Density 1,000/sq mi (390/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 13326
Area code(s) 607
FIPS code 36-18047
GNIS feature ID 0979671
Website www.cooperstownny.org

Cooperstown is a village in Otsego County, New York, United States. It is the county seat.[1] Most of the village lies within the town of Otsego, but some of the eastern part is in the town of Middlefield.

Cooperstown is best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Farmers' Museum, the Fenimore Art Museum, Glimmerglass Opera, and the New York State Historical Association are also based there. Most of the historic pre-1900 core of the village is included in the Cooperstown Historic District, which was designated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and had its boundaries increased in 1997.

The population of the village was 1,852 as of the 2010 census.

History[edit]

The village was part of the Cooper Patent, which Judge William Cooper purchased in 1785 from Colonel George Croghan. The land amounted to 10,000 acres (40 km2). Cooper was the father of noted American author James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Leatherstocking Tales, a series of novels which includes The Last of the Mohicans. Contrary to popular belief, the village was named after Judge Cooper, and not his son.

The village of Cooperstown was established in 1786, laid out by surveyor William Ellison. At the time, the area was part of Montgomery County. It was incorporated as the "Village of Otsego" on April 3, 1807. The name was changed to "Village of Cooperstown" in 1812.[citation needed] Cooperstown is one of only twelve villages in New York still incorporated under a charter, the other villages having incorporated or re-incorporated under the provisions of Village Law.[2]

Cooperstown depicted on an 1890 panoramic map

Geography and climate[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2), of which 1.5 square miles (3.9 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (2.53%) is water.

The source of the Susquehanna River is in Cooperstown at Otsego Lake. Blackbird Bay of Otsego Lake is north of the village.

Cooperstown is at the junction of New York State Route 28 and New York State Route 80. The village is also served by County Routes 31 and 33.

Climate

Cooperstown has a humid continental climate, with cold, very snowy winters, warm summers, and abundant precipitation year-round. Freezing temperatures have been observed in every month of the year, except for July. The record low temperature is −34 °F (−37 °C), set on February 9, 1934, and the record high temperature is 99 °F (37 °C), set on July 9 and 10, 1936.[3]


Demographics[edit]

Main Street

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 2,032 people, 906 households, and 479 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,317.5 people per square mile (509.5/km²). There were 1,070 housing units at an average density of 693.8 per square mile (268.3/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 96.21% White, 0.94% African American, 0.10% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.34% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.31% of the population.

There were 906 households out of which 23.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.1% were non-families. 41.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.05 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the village the population was spread out with 20.2% under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 26.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 81.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.8 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $36,992, and the median income for a family was $50,250. Males had a median income of $39,625 versus $20,595 for females. The per capita income for the village was $26,799. About 5.0% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.5% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people[edit]

Notable historic year-round or summer residents of Cooperstown included:

Cooperstown writers[edit]

Aside from James Fenimore Cooper, noted Cooperstown authors include his daughter Susan Fenimore Cooper, the author of Rural Hours, and his great-great-grandson Paul Fenimore Cooper, author of Tal: His Marvelous Adventures with Noom-Zor-Noom. In addition the prolific poet W. W. Lord, who captured Cooperstown in many of his poems, as well as modern author Lauren Groff, who has written extensively about her hometown, notably in The Monsters of Templeton, a story that brings several Cooperstown legends to life. The work of Cooperstown-based novelist and poet Marly Youmans has referenced the area, notably In her epic poem Thaliad (2012), in which a group of child survivors of an apocalypse travel north and make their new home in an abandoned village on the shore of Glimmerglass Lake.[6]'[7][8]

The Clark family[edit]

The Clark Estates building, originally the Otsego County Bank, was built in 1831 in the Greek Revival style

The Clark family, whose fortune originated with a half-ownership of the patent for the Singer Sewing Machine, has lived in Cooperstown since the mid-19th century. The family's holdings include interests assembled over a century and a half, which are now held through trusts and foundations. Their dominance is reflected in Clark ownership of more than 10,000 acres (40 km2) of largely undeveloped land in and around greater Cooperstown.

In the village, the Otesaga, the Cooper Inn, Clark Estates, and the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home are all Clark properties. In addition, the Clarks were founding partners of, and retain an interest in, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital.

Cooperstown still receives support from the Clark Foundation, which has donated to a variety of causes including various scholarships, non-profit organizations, and village services. The family has also donated land for the central and high schools − formerly stables − as well as for parks such as Fairy Springs and Council Rock, and recently, for a new Little League baseball field.

Jane Forbes Clark II,[9] the primary family heir today, has continued this commitment by purchasing strategic land to ensure the preservation of village entry points, as well as overseeing the expansion of the various Clark holdings.

In a rare presentation held in late November 2013 Ms. Clark talked about the Clark family's continued support for the community during a meeting of The Women’s Club of Cooperstown.[10] During that meeting it was cited that The Clark Foundation supports a variety of Cooperstown and Otsego County organizations and causes with donations of $7.5 million to charitable organizations every year. Whereas the family's other foundation, formed in 1975, The Scriven Foundation, donates only to Otsego County nonprofit organizations such as the Cooperstown Village Library. The Scriven Foundation donates $1.5 million every year. From an employment perspective with the various businesses that the Clark family owns, 4,198 people have employment, per Ms. Clark, with 3,100 of those positions being full-time jobs.

Cooperstown today[edit]

Cooperstown is best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which was founded in 1939 by Stephen Carlton Clark. According to an interview conducted in 1906 by the Mills Commission, nearby resident Abner Graves attributed the game's invention to his deceased friend, Abner Doubleday. Graves stated that Doubleday invented baseball on a cow pasture within the village in 1839, the present site of Doubleday Field, but this claim is almost universally discounted by baseball historians.

Even so, as the site of the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown retains a close connection with the baseball world, in which "Cooperstown" is synonymous with the Hall. Several nationally recognized tournaments are held in the area. Cooperstown Dreams Park in nearby Hartwick Seminary hosts 104 level U12 teams for weekly tournaments in the summer. Several professionals, including David Price and Matt Garza, have attended CDP. In 2010, Cooperstown got an official baseball team of its own, the Cooperstown Hawkeyes, a collegiate league team who play against many other teams from the northeast during the summer, with home games played at historic Doubleday Field.[11]

Several other attractions are scattered around the village, including the Farmers' Museum, the Fenimore Art Museum, The New York State Historical Association's (NYSHA) library, Brewery Ommegang, and the Clark Sports Center, a large fitness facility, where the annual Hall of Fame Induction is held.

Once known as the "Village of Museums", until the 1970s Cooperstown also boasted the Indian Museum (adjacent to Lakefront Park), The Carriage and Harness Museum (displaying a world-class collection primarily from F. Ambrose Clark's estate; now the Bassett Hospital offices on Elk Street), and The Woodland Museum near Three Mile Point. The latter, opened in 1962 by heirs to the Anheuser-Busch company, folded in 1974, but not before running a close third in annual attendance to the Hall of Fame and Farmers' Museum.

The internationally noted Glimmerglass Opera is closely associated with Cooperstown. Founded in 1975, the company originally performed in the Cooperstown High School auditorium. In 1987, the company relocated to farmland donated by Tom Goodyear of the Cary Mede Estate 8 miles (13 km) north of the village, where the Alice Busch Opera Theater was built, the first new opera-specific hall in the United States since 1966.

The Cooperstown Historic District, Glimmerglass Historic District, Middlefield District No. 1 School, Otsego County Courthouse, and United States Post Office are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[12]

Business district[edit]

Superficially, the downtown commercial district looks not unlike it did in the 1970s. However, like many small communities impacted by changing tastes and the rise of big-box stores, Cooperstown's downtown has undergone significant change over recent decades.

Through the 1970s, Main Street was still home to no fewer than five grocery stores, including an A&P. Western Auto had a branch on Main Street and J.J. Newberry's had a two-story five-and-dime with a food counter. Smalley's, a movie theater which was originally a stage theater, had a single screen across from a Farm & Home store. With its post office, library, and the Baseball Hall of Fame, Main Street resembled a true village square.

Today, the village has fewer traditional services for year-round and seasonal residents. Once boasting half a dozen gas stations, the village now has only two. Traditional grocers have been reduced to one, with the 1977 Great American on the outskirts of town, that itself replaced the town's bowling alley, converted to a Price Chopper in 2010. Hardware stores such as Western Auto, McGowan's and Farm & Home have been displaced by an Ace Hardware just outside the village. Newberry's has become a single-floor general store with the basement stairs boarded up. Even Sherry's Famous Restaurant closed in the late 90s after more than half a century of business. Most Main Street shops now cater to the tourist trade.

The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, established in 1917, looks to develop business and trade in the Cooperstown region. Serving also as a visitor center in its main office, the Chamber also manages a seasonal kiosk on the corner of Main and Pioneer St for tourists.

Cooperstown was formerly served by the Cooperstown Municipal Airport, which was a two-runway facility fewer than two miles to the northwest of town center. That field closed in the 1960s. The village is now served by a small grass field in nearby Westville and a one-runway facility in Oneonta NY.

Architecture[edit]

There are, and were, significant residential, commercial and religious structures in Cooperstown. Original residences related to the founding Cooper family, such as Edgewater and Heathcote, are still standing. Otsego Hall, James Fenimore Cooper's residence which once stood in what is now Cooper Park, has been lost, along with his chalet. The cottage built for his daughter, Byberry, remains on River Street, albeit in altered form. "Fynmere", a grand stone manor from the early 20th century, erected by Cooper heirs on the eastern edge of town, was designed by noted architect Charles A. Platt. Later donated to the Presbyterian Church as a retirement home, the property was razed in 1979. Both its grounds and those of neighboring property Heathcote (extant today), built for Katherine Guy Cooper (1895–1988), daughter-in-law of James Fenimore Cooper III, were laid out by noted landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman.

Residences, business, and properties related to the Clark family abound within the village. From the original family seat of "Fernleigh" to the 1928 Georgian manor of "West Hill", the properties are exceptionally well cared for. Fernleigh is a Second Empire stone mansion designed by New Jersey architect James Van Dyke and built in 1869. The original garden at Fernleigh, located to the south of the mansion, included a servants' house and Turkish bath; both details have since been lost. In 1923, Stephen C. Clark, Sr. commissioned Marcus T. Reynolds and Bryant Fleming, a landscape design professor at Cornell University, to design new gardens for Fernleigh.[13]

The manor home of Robert Sterling Clark, Red Creek Farm, remains on the outskirts of the Village although brother F. Ambrose Clark's "Iroquois Farm" manor house was razed in the early 1980s. Also razed in 1979 was the Mohican Farms manor house, owned by the Clark Estates, in Springfield Center, NY and formerly the summer home of the Spaulding sporting good family from Buffalo. Edward Severin Clark built a farm complex at Fenimore Farm in 1918, which is now the Farmers Museum. His stone manor, built in 1931, was bequeathed to the New York State Historical Association and today serves as the Fenimore Art Museum. Other structures, such as the Baseball Hall of Fame, Otesaga Hotel, Clark Estate Office, Kingfisher Tower, which lies on the east side of Lake Otsego, Bassett Hospital, and The Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home, exemplify Cooperstown's architectural wealth.

The Inn At Cooperstown

The Bowers family "Lakelands" manor, neighboring "Mohican Lodge", and their former estate of "Willowbrook" (1818; presently the Cooper Inn) serve as further examples of grand homes erected by affluent residents. The Bowers family received the land patent extending from current-day Bowerstown to very near Cherry Valley, New York, upon which Congressman John Myer Bowers built Lakelands in 1804. Woodside Hall, on the eastern edge of the village proper, was built c. 1829 by Eben B. Morehouse and was subsequently owned by several prominent individuals, including, in 1895, financier Walter C. Stokes of New York City. Prior to the Stokes' ownership, the home was visited by Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States.

The village offices and Cooperstown Art Association are housed in a neo-classical building designed by Ernest Flagg, famed for Manhattan's 47-story Singer Building and the Boldt Castle on the St. Lawrence River. The building was originally commissioned by Elizabeth Scriven Clark in 1898 as a YMCA. Robert Sterling Clark, son of Elizabeth, gave it to the village in 1932.

Several prominent buildings in town were designed or updated by noted architect Frank P. Whiting, who originally worked under Ernest Flagg. A resident of New York City and Cooperstown, Whiting was also a noted artist. He designed the Farmers Museum farm buildings[14] and the shingle-style manor at "Leatherstocking Falls Farm", the residence of Dorothy Stokes Bostwick Smith Campbell, the landscaping for which was done by the all-female firm of Wodell & Cottrell in the 1930s.[15] Whiting also designed 56 Lake Street. In 1932 Whiting designed and built his residence, "Westerly", on a half acre lot at the north end of Nelson Avenue. The home is in the Colonial style and today retains many interior and exterior features of the original home. In June 1923 Whiting wrote a featured monograph "Cooperstown in The Times of Our Forefathers" for volume IX of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs containing several sketches and measured drawings of homes in Cooperstown.

In 1916, financier William T. Hyde acquired "Glimmerglen", a lakeside property north of Fenimore Farm, from the Constable family.[16] The house burned to the ground shortly thereafter and was rebuilt by society architect Alfred Hopkins, who also designed a new farm complex, gate house, and assorted dependencies. The estate was featured in a multipage advertisement in Country Life magazine in late 1922 when the property was put up for sale. The manor and greenhouses were razed in the late 1960s after their acquisition by the Clark family. The stone gatehouse, featured in the Architectural Record is extant today and owned by the Clark Foundation, as is the boathouse and the distinctive cottage known as "Winter House".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

External links[edit]