Five historic buildings in the Town of Bridgewater will be open for the public to tour from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21.
The tour, sponsored by the Upper Unadilla Valley Association, includes the following sites along state Route 8 and U.S. Route 20 in Oneida County:
Chapman/Curtain farms hop barn and brick kiln, circa 1930s, at 658 State Route 8, Cassville; First Congregational Church, circa 1834, at 382 State Route 8;
Western Star Lodge #15, circa 1816, at 9620 U.S. Route 20; Union Train Station/ Bridgewater Historical Society, circa 1902, at 9685 U.S. Route 20, and Bridgewater Municipal Building at 404 State Route 8.
All tour participants must stop first at the municipal building to pick up a tour booklet required for admission to all other sites. One booklet will serve as admission to all five sites for every car. The cost is $5 per booklet. Signs will be posted in front of each tour location, and guides will be available at each location.
The municipal building houses historical artifacts, in addition to town records. The one-story train station also houses a museum of historical items and serves as the meeting place for the Bridgewater Historical Society. It was built by the short-line Unadilla Valley Railroad but also served the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad branch to Richfield Springs before it closed in 1960.
The hop barn and kiln were built in hopes of reviving the region’s once thriving hop farming industry. The First Congregational Church, meanwhile, underwent various changes through the years, including the installation of a pipe organ in 1876 and the addition of stained glass windows in 1880.
The Western Star Lodge was founded in 1796 by original Bridgewater settlers Joseph Farwell and Ephriam Waldo. Lodge members met at Farwells Hill until a building was erected in 1816 on the site of the Cottage Hotel barn on the southwest corner of routes 8 and 20. The lodge moved to its present location in 1864. Design aspects were dictated by the teachings and practices of the secret fraternal society of Free and Accepted Masons.
UUVA tours are held annually to showcase the region’s historic and unique buildings, homes, farms, and businesses, as well as gardens, art, nature, and renewable energy uses. The association was established in 1969 to preserve and protect the natural and historic resources of the Upper Unadilla Valley, an area that includes West Winfield, Bridgewater, Unadilla Forks, Leonardsville, and West Edmeston.
Besides its summer tour, other regular events include a fund-raising plant sale the third Saturday of May; a fall banquet featuring a topic often aligned with the summer tour; and a scholarship for a graduating Mount Markham Central School District senior. The association also works to prevent or mitigate impending environmental threats and helps with historical preservation, as the need arises.