Meeting: Historic Designation


SOCIETY PROPOSES THAT HAMLETS OF AUSTERLITZ AND SPENCERTOWN BE LISTED AS HISTORIC DISTRICTS ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

 

This proposal by the Society will be discussed at a public information meeting on Saturday, January 13, 3 pm. at the Austerlitz Town Hall. 

 

The listing of the hamlets as Historic Districts would not limit the rights of property owners in any way, nor impose on them any restriction, regulation or responsibility of any kind, no matter how historic their property.  Historic Districts are only honorific designations intended to increase the appreciation of the unique historical and architectural heritage of Austerlitz and Spencertown, an honor especially timely this year as the Town of Austerlitz celebrates its bicentennial.

 

The National Register is basically an honor roll individual buildings and districts with a noteworthy history or architecture. Among local buildings on the National Register are St. Peter’s Church, the Spencertown Academy, and two private homes. Historic Districts in Columbia County include, among others, the hamlets of Ancram, Hillsdale, New Concord and North Chatham.  There are thousands of listed Historic Districts nationwide.

 

The Register is maintained by the National Park Service, but is administered by an agency in each state.  In New York, the responsible agency is the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (“OPRHP”).  To list a district in New York on the Register, an applicaton is submitted to the OPRHP describing the proposed district and the historic buildings within it.  The Historical Society is submitting the applications to list Austerlitz and Spencertown,  prepared by its consultant, Neil Larson of Larson Fisher Associates, at no cost to the Town. The OPRHP will send a notice of the applications to each property owner within either proposed district. After reviewing any comments received, it will hold a public hearing on March 16, 2018, at its offices in Waterford, and then decide if the applications should be approved. 

 

The Society believes that Austerlitz and Spencertown both clearly qualify as Historic Districts. These hamlets were settled starting in 1756-57, and both contain today a significant number of historic houses and other buildings dating to the 1800s, and some even to the 1700s. The Historical Society has researched the history of every building in the Town that appears on the 1888 map of the Town.  Almost all of those buildings in the two hamlets have survived, with only a handful of exceptions.

 

The Historical Society is proceeding with these Historic District applications, and the Town Board has encouraged them, in the belief that there will be a general community consensus in support of the applications, especially given that Historic District status will not limit the rights of property owners.  Letters of support have been received from the Austerlitz and Spencertown Fire Companies.  

 

The public information meeting on January 13 is to afford each property owner, and other interested residents, the opportunity to ask any questions about these Historic District applications. Present to discuss the applications and answer questions will be William Krattinger of the State OPRHP, Neil Larson, the consultant preparing the applications, Austerlitz Town Historian Tom Moreland, Jere Wrightsman, representing the Town Board, and Jane Magee, representing the Society.

 

Anyone who is unable to attend the public meeting, or who wishes further information before the meeting, is invited to contact Town Historian Tom Moreland (518-392-7207, or  Tmoreland@austerlitzny.com).