Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND”
July 2, 2013
Historic Buildings and Places in the Town of Chester
There are 3 buildings that make up the Historic District of the village of Chestertown. These were officially recognized and place on the Historic Register in 1978.
The Church of the Good Shepherd on Main Street in Chestertown is one of three buildings put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Built about 1883, the church still serves the population to this day.
The Church of the Good Shepherd was organized in October 1876. The present church building was built about 1883, at a cost of $2500, under the leadership of Rev. Clement Whipple. It was consecrated May 3, 1884. The new Parish Hall was added in 1954 after the former Parish, which had been across the street, was sold. This parish hall now houses the Warren County Head Start Center for the Town of Chester.
A. The Fowler House, built in the early 1800s by Charles Fowler, a Chestertown merchant, today serves as The Chester Inn, a bed and breakfast on Main Street.
It was one of three buildings put on the National Register in 1978.
The Fowler House was built in the early 1800’s. Charles Fowler was a Chestertown merchant. His sons, Byron and Joseph were prominent Glens Falls business men. The three buildings of the Historic District were part of property once owned by Fowler. It is now The Chester Inn, a bed and breakfast operated by Bruce and Suzanne Robbins.
A. The Main Street Ice Cream Parlor was originally built as a high school, serving Chester, Horicon, Hague, and Johnsburg. It served that capacity until 1935 when the central school district was established. It has been a glove factory, an antique shop, the Town of Chester Town Hall.
B. Today is the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor, serving food and ice cream as well as being a gift shop.
The Main Street Ice Cream Parlor building was built in 1912 as a high school for students in Chester, Horicon, Hague and Johnsburg. It served as a school until 1935 when the new central school opened. It was a glove factory in World War II and an antiques shop. The Town purchased it in 1960 and it became the Town Hall for the Town of Chester. The museum of Local History was located on the second floor. In 2001 the town offices moved to the former North Warren High School building. The Robbins family purchased the building and opened the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor in 2005.
A. The Wells House in Pottersville was built about 1885 and became known as a rest stop for tourists.
- B. Restored in 2003, it was awarded the Adirondack Architecture Heritage Award.
The Wells House in Pottersville was built about 1845 and enlarged to its present size in the 1860’s. Travelers to the Adirondacks could take the train to Riparius, and then take the stage to the Wells House. It became known as a midway rest stop for travelers on their way to Schroon Lake. In 2003 it was purchased and restored by Paul and Shirley Bubar. In 2006 it was awarded the Adirondack Architectural Heritage Award.
Pottersville United Methodist Church began organization about 1810. The church building was built about 1847, and it still is in use today.
The PottersvilleUnitedMethodistChurch – 1810 was the beginning of organized Methodism in Pottersville. In 1835 a Sunday School was organized and in 1847 a church building was constructed, That building has been enlarged and renovated over the years and is still in use today.
When the North Warren School District was formed, this building served as the high school for Chestertwon, Pottersville, and Horicon. When a new North Warren High School was built in 1999, this building became the Town of Chester Municipal Center, and it serves that purpose today.
Chestertown Central School was opened in 1935. When North Warren Central School was formed from Chestertown, Pottersville and Horicon Schools, this building became North Warren High School. In 1999 a new North Warren Central School building was erected. The former Chestertown Central School then became the Town of Chester Municipal Center with an Open House Dedication in July 2001.
This building, built in 1936, served as the Pottersville Central School and North Warren Middle School until the new school was built in 1999. This building was sold to the Word of Life, who use it as their world headquarters.
Pottersville Central School was built about 1936. When North Warren Central School was formed, this building became North Warren Middle School. When North Warren Central built a new school, the former Pottersville Central School building was sold to Word of Life and is now their world headquarters.
The Panther Mountain Inn, originally the residence of the Faxon family, has been in operation as an inn since 1923.
Panther Mountain House started life as the residence of the Faxon family. In 1923, the Wertime family purchased the property and operated the Panther Mountain House. It was completely destroyed by fire in 1941. It was rebuilt and continued operation until 1956.Thomas Carroll purchased the property about 1957. Tom and his wife, Margaret operated the Panther Mt. Inn for more than 50 years. In 2010 it was purchased and reopened by Don & Darlene Butler and Keith Wilkinson.
A. The Black Bear Tavern started out as a walk-up hot dog and ice cream stand.
As it appears today, the Black Bear Restaurant came about 1950.
Black Bear Tavern – Stuart and Helen Mead Sr. purchased the Brown Homestead in Pottersville around 1925 and moved from New Jersey to Pottersville in 1929-1930. In the early 1930’s they built a roadside stand and acquired native animals, one of which was a black bear cub who loved ice cream. By the time they sold the property in 1945 it was an ice cream/hot dog stand with walk-up windows and gas pumps out front. Bill and Delva Stetson bought the property about 1950 and it became the Black Bear Restaurant. The bar was added in the mid 1950’s. Today the Black Bear Restaurant and Bar is owned and operated by their son, Butch Stetson.
Pottersville, the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves has been a major tourist attraction since the mid 1940s.
Several small communities or hamlets were created in the Town of Chester. Three important ones include:
Darrowsville was once a populated hamlet in the southern part of the Town of Chester. It was partially in the mile strip that was taken from the Town of Warrensburg and given to the Town of Chester by the Warren County Board of Supervisors in November 1855. There were once two churches, a district school, a hotel, a grist mill, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop and a wagon or carriage shop. There were two early pit mines in that area, one for feldspar, which was carried as ballast by sailing vessels and used in the manufacture of fine china. The other mine was a silver mine where enough silver was found to plate homemade utensils.
Darrowsville got its name from James Darrow, an early settler. Of the two churches, the Methodist Episcopal Church did not survive. This church was organized May 31, 1856. By 1867 it had disappeared. The other church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church is reported to be one of the first churches formed by the Wesleyan Methodist movement. At a convention of Methodist Church leaders held in Utica in 1843 the Wesleyan Connection was formed. The prime focus was protesting slavery which was condoned by the southern Methodists. The Darrowsville Wesleyan Methodist church, first called the “Warrensburgh Class” and then the “Darrowsville Class”, was organized July 14, 1843 by Myron Tripp of Chester. The church building was built in 1845. Thomas Baker was an abolitionist minister who served from 1845 to 1855. He was active in the Underground Railroad and helped to build the church. This church has been documented as being a stop of the Underground Railroad. Today there is Darrowsville Road, a sawmill, a cemetery adjacent to the site of the Darrowsville Wesleyan Methodist Church and the homes of those who still say they live in Darrowsville.
Igerna was once a community in the northern part of the Town of Chester. A sawmill operated by Hamner Meade and a brick factory were once mainstays of the economy as well as farming and lumbering. There were cider mills and a tavern and it was a change station for stagecoaches. Three school districts operated in that area – Mead, Byrnes and Vanderwerker. Three churches served Igerna residents. The North Chester Baptist Church continues today as the Grace Bible Fellowship and the Seventh Day Adventist Church is still operating. The Methodist Episcopal Church, opposite the Igerna Cemetery, was torn down. There were several stores, one at Byrnes Corner and one next to the Methodist Episcopal Church. The post office was established in 1889 and closed by the post office department in Washington, DC in August 1914. Today there is an Igerna Road, the two surviving churches, and several cemeteries which tell the names of those who lived and worked in Igerna, as well as the homes of those who call Igerna home.
Starbuckville derived its name from Isaac Starbuck who started a tannery there about 1845. He and his brothers Edward and George operated the tannery for a time and then began to operate a wholesale shoe manufacturing business. The settlement of Starbuckville was once a thriving community. Several mills, including a carding mill and a grist mill, operated in and around the mill dam. There was a hotel, “The Sunnyside”, on the south side of the bridge that was built by Edgar Bentley in the late 1870’s. There was also a district school and several boarding houses for the tannery workers. The shoe manufacturing building burned in 1870 and the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1905. The other buildings have either burned, fallen town, or been remodeled. In 1947 the Crossroads store was opened by Beecher Brainard. It continues to operate as ‘The Crossroads’ by the West family.
Other places in the town include:
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves – Located in Pottersville, this natural attraction has been in the hands of the same family since it was received as payment for services in the American Revolution. Jacob VanBenthuysen originally built a sawmill on the property. It was transformed in the mid 1940’s so the public could visit the caves and walk the trails. It has been a major tourist attraction since.
Dynamite Hill Recreation Area – The property was purchased by the Town of Chester in 1962 as a recreation area for the town. In 1963 it was designated a wildlife refuge and game study area by the Town Board. The area offers downhill skiing with a tow rope; a tubing area and a toboggan area; a ball field, hockey rink, hiking trails, a warming hut, and a covered picnic area. In 2010 a snow-making machine was purchased. The Town continues to work on enhancing this area for the use of the public.
© July 2 2013, Warren County Historical Society.
Material for this article was originally put together for the bicentennial souvenir magazine by Chester Town Historian, Donna Lagoy. Photos are also courtesy of Mrs. Lagoy.