Historic Angelica, New York

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This Angelica house, built in 1884, is one of the town’s newer structures. It is now the Park Circle Bed & Breakfast.

If you ever find yourself in western New York, perhaps after fulfilling a quest for authentic maple syrup at Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn, I would recommend another stop in the nearby historic village of Angelica.  (While Cartwright’s  has an Angelica address, it is several miles outside the tiny town.)

Postcard-pretty Angelica was named for Angelica Shuyler Church (1756- 1814), scion of two eminent New York families, the Schuylers and the Rensselaers.  Angelica’s father was a general in the Continental Army, later a member of the Continental Congress and a U.S. senator.  Her brother-in-law was Alexander Hamilton. After eloping with the English-born merchant John Barker Church, Angelica lived most of her life in Europe.  Intelligent, well-educated, charming and beautiful, she mixed in elite circles.  During her years in Paris, her confidants included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson (with whom she kept up a lifelong correspondence), and the Marquis de Lafayette. Her London acquaintances were equally renowned.  Angelica and her family returned to America for a visit to attend the inauguration of George Washington.

When her family purchased a 100,000-acre tract of land in the wilds of western New York, Angelica’s son Philip scouted the area for a suitable location to build a town.  He chose a site along the Genesee River.  In 1802, he named the new settlement after his mother.  Thanks to Philip and his surveyor, the town has a pleasing geometric plan, its main street radiating out from a central circular park.

Considering the name of the town and that of its founding family, it’s appropriate that Angelica is notable for the many lovely old churches that ring the green and dot Main Street.  Nearly all the town’s buildings date from the 19th century and have been little changed.  Modernism sidestepped Angelica.  Large, still beautiful homes, plus a library, academy, court house and post office, are interspersed among the churches and shops.  We typically visit in February, when the view from the snow-covered central park recalls a tabletop Christmas display of quaint ceramic buildings.

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Angelica’s central green, showing two of the town’s churches.

 

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The former Presbyterian Church.

                                                                 

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St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which dates from 1847 and includes several Tiffany windows.
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Yet another Angelica church, surrounded by homes.

                                               

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This Gothic revival house was built in 1826 for the family of Aaron Burr.

                        

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The Lloyd House, built from 1834 with local stone quarried from nearby Joncy Gorge.

     

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When Kiko spotted these two dog figures on a side porch of the Lloyd house, he confronted them with extreme wariness. They remained silent, and he moved on, disappointed.

In 1797, Angelica and her husband returned to live permanently in the U.S.  Their grand home, known as Villa Belvidere, is located on the outskirts of town.  Begun in 1806, its design is attributed to Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the U.S. capitol.  The house remains in private hands.

2 thoughts on “Historic Angelica, New York”

  1. I often went to Villa Belvidere with my Mother who worked for the Bromeley family for twenty-some years. Even as a child I sensed the history there and the beauty that enhanced the mansion in its forest-like setting. Many are the memories of days spent there, one being the rainbows that were cast about the dining room from sunlit prisms on the hanging chandelier. Even now it brings me pleasure to recall time spent in that lovely room.

    1. Thank you for sharing your childhood memories of Villa Belvidere. Did you live in Angelica, or nearby, growing up? I would love to hear more of your recollections about the area!

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