Cobblestone Quest – Road Tours of New York’s Historic Buildings is a great new resource of self-guided tours to visit and learn about cobblestone buildings that were built in Western New York State before the Civil War. Part of our pioneer history, cobblestone buildings are buildings built with stones that can be held in one hand (as opposed to pebbles, or boulders). According to the guide, which was written by Rich and Sue Freeman (Sue also runs one of favorite blogs – New York Outdoors), the word cobblestone comes from the Middle English cob meaning a rounded lump and ston, for small rock.
The Freemans have divided the cobblestone building period into three eras: The Early Period (1825-11835) which features crude irregular designs of stones of vary shapes and color. The Middle Period (1835-1845) is distinguished by the use of smaller stones set in more geometrical patterns. In the final period, designated by the Freemans as the Late Period (1845 to the Civil War), stones of uniform color and shape were used with almost machine-like precision. Although cobblestone building began on farms where the stones were plentiful after the clearing of fields, the building method did eventually move into villages in smaller numbers.
The book is filled with facts about cobblestone construction methods and the Freemans are quick to note that “cobblestone is a construction method, not an architectural style.” Most of the buildings featured in the book are Greek Revival, although some are Federal, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Post Colonial and Victorian style.
Cobblestone Quest features 17 tours through western New York between Syracuse and Buffalo, plus lots of other resources, including cobblestone museums, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, antique shops and galleries, a guide for owners, an index and bibliography, and a more. It’s available from Footprint Press for $19.95.