Greetings everyone, Oscar the Grotesque here, joining you for another week to look more closely at Adirondack architecture, historic buildings, and preservation opportunities.
This week we explore some of our local landmarks. Landmarks are important in preserving history, are essential to communities, and provide a connection to the past. They also can be quirky, fun, architectural gems, historically significant, and a great source of pride and reverence in a community.
What are Landmarks?
Landmarks can be described in two ways: one definition being of historical significance and the other being just a community or local landmark.
A historical landmark is defined as “a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historic significance” by the National Historic Landmark Program.
An example of a historic landmark would be like the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. These are pieces of history that shows a connection with the past.
A community or local landmark would be described as “a landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation, a feature that stands out from its near environment and is often visible from long distances.” These local landmarks are often beloved by the community, and there’s a good chance no one besides locals has ever even heard of your Town—or your local point of pride. Small towns are often home to landmarks that are legendary to residents yet mostly unknown to the world at large.
If you happen to ask directions when traveling through Keene Valley, you’ll no doubt hear “take a right at Purdy’s” or “go past Purdy’s,” If you are a local or even a seasonal visitor to the area you’ll most likely know exactly where they are referring to, The Elm Tree Inn. Despite being closed since 2004, and the old elm for which it was named no longer standing, this historic watering hole still lives in the heart and minds of locals. It is what we would call a local landmark. Landmarks often enhance both the physical and cultural environments of their towns.
Landmarks are not only used to help with navigation but help to create identity and are often the “beating heart” of a community. They are the physical expression of our shared heritage, and many develop iconic status over time. They bring people together by “defining” a community.
Located at the center point between Keene Valley and Keene, the Holt House stands proudly on Marcy Field.
Historically, this landmark was one of the first areas to be settled in Keene. The core of the Holt House is the original circa 1830’s house. The house is named after the Holt family that lived, farmed, and owned the lands for many generations. After WWI, the exterior was remade into the bungalow style it boasts today. The Town has actively engaged in maintaining the site.
Going back to the 1930s, there are numerous accounts of parades, rallies, and community events held here. In the early years of the airfield, it served as an essential connection for mail delivery and supplies. Throughout its history and even today, it is the community gathering place that continues to host farmer’s market, craft shows, music from the back porch, and much more. Both the Holt House and Marcy Field are true, beloved Local Landmark.
A landmark could also be a bridge, such as the Hadley Bow Bridge. Constructed in 1885, the Hadley Bow Bridge is the only half-deck, lenticular, wrought-iron bridge remaining of the three known to have been built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company. Spanning the Sacandaga River, Hadley Bow Bridge is a stunning example of late-nineteenth, early-American bridge building, and engineering ingenuity. Just as important as saving the unique Bow Bridge in Hadley as a rare work of civil engineering, it also preserves the historic pedestrian “link” and a destination for visitors.
Nearly every community in the region has places like this. Every small town in the Adirondacks has something that sets it apart from the rest, and these unique features can be historic buildings, artifacts, natural characteristics, or something entirely different. They are often charmingly unique. Maybe it’s the statue of Paul Bunyan in Old Forge , or Keeseville’s point of pride the engineering marvel the Stone Arch Bridge. The history and stories behind them are as unique as the landmark themselves.
What is your favorite local landmark?
This summer, while you are out exploring, all the Adirondacks has offer see how many unique, local, and regional landmarks you can discover. Don’t forget to share your discoveries and stories with AARCH. We LOVE LOCAL LANDMARKS.