About Cazenovia

The village of Cazenovia has long been a center of commerce, culture, and controversy. Although John Lincklaen founded the town of Cazenovia in 1793, the village had long been a favorite with tourists, who found refuge from the stressors of everyday life within the quaint village of Cazenovia and by the shores of the Lake. The establishment of Cazenovia as a town and village made necessary the foundation of local government and civil services, and the positions were promptly filled.

It takes but a walk down Albany Street to look into the past of the village; each style of architecture exemplified by the buildings serves as a window to a different period of history, a conglomerate effect the village still retains today.

The houses on Lower Lincklaen street were built during the 1820’s and 1830’s, and are an example of Greek Revival architecture. The 3-bay, gable-end structure makes Lower Lincklaen one of the largest homogenous sections of Cazenovia as far as architecture is concerned. 1835 Saw the construction of the Lincklaen House on the corner of Albany and Lincklaen streets, which was constructed in a very different style.

Construction of the Gothic cottage on Albany Street was completed in 1847, which was purchased by an individual who then donated it to the town to use as their office space. The Gothic architecture is extremely evident, with its steep roof and inset front porch.

During the late nineteenth century, “Lakeland” style architecture popped up in a number of places on the lake. What is now the Cazenovia Club was first constructed during the 1880’s with a tower as a lookout over the lake, but since then fire has taken its toll: when the building was reconstructed after the fire, the tower was removed, most likely for reasons of structural integrity. In 1889, another structure exemplifying “Lakeland” architecture was constructed on the same inlet to the lake and named “Carpenter’s Barn.” During the 1930’s, the village saw the merit of such a “barn,” and purchased it to store municipal equipment. Since then, it has become the headquarters for CAVAC, the local ambulance corps. Lakeland architecture is reminiscent of a time when Cazenovia Lake served as an ideal summer vacation spot for rich urban tourists, who constructed masterpiece homes on its shores.

One of the buildings in town with an extremely varied history is the building that now houses the Cazenovia College Theater on Lincklaen Street. In 1895, a fire destroyed the “Casa Nova,” the local opera house. Henry Burden’s idea for the site was comprehensive in nature; in 1897 he constructed a combination opera house and town hall to replace and improve the building’s predecessor. This town hall was used until the move to Gothic Cottage during the early twentieth century.

Sweeping change, one could say, was the mode of the middle to late 1900’s in the village of Cazenovia. Perhaps one of the greatest indicators still standing today is Saint James Church, the architecture of which can only be described as “contemporary” and “progressive” if not simply “unusual.” Albany street also underwent a great change in 1967, when business owners began to remove their neon signs, which were extremely popular during the 1960’s, from their windows under a joint resolution. The signs had proliferated to the point where a neon, two-story tall coffeepot, ready to “pour” its contents onto the sidewalk, indicated the location of an Albany Street coffee shop. Not surprisingly, this sign was the first to go, and the example set by the owner led other business owners to sign on to the resolution, which appropriated funds to buy new, less conspicuous signs in exchange for removal of the neon.

Since then, the village has undergone a number of changes, including the construction of new buildings by Cazenovia College, the remodeling of the former location of Smith’s grocery and the Cazenovia Optometrist’s building, and the annexation of the South Village development. Recently, a concern for village preservation has led to the establishment of the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation and a generally conservative village board, which has been a great help in preserving the unique character of our village.

Did you know?

By the late 1800’s, local politics had become so important and so partisan that rival political parties erected towering (2-3 stories) flagpoles on which they would hoist their party’s flag. One was located in front of the building which is now Circa, and the other at the opposite end of the business district.

In the late 1800’s, the fire department, which at that time was called the Owaghena Hose Company, had a series of interesting stations. In 1885, the company initiated the move from the schoolhouse to the local opera house, the Casa Nova, which is now the Cazenovia College Theater. Ironically, a 1895 fire that burned the opera house forced them to move back to their former schoolhouse headquarters.

The end of the nineteenth century brought many tourists to Cazenovia by train. Instead of walking the mile to the village, many people traveled on the omnibus, a cart resembling a trolley drawn by horses. The main omnibus was commissioned by George Shute, and many photos from that era reveal its presence at a large number of village functions.

Source: “The Story of an Upland Community.” Grills, Russell A. 1977 Cazenovia Preservation Foundation, Inc.

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