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SUNY graduate students help preserve the historic church


September 30 — Work done by students in SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program helped Hartwick Seminary Evangelical Lutheran Church be listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and named to the National Register historic places.

The church is located on National Highway 28, five miles southwest of Cooperstown, bordered to the east by Cooperstown Dreams Park. Built in 1839, it is in Greek Revival style and, according to graduate program professor Dr. Cynthia Falk, deserves to be preserved because of its social and architectural history.

“The Evangelical Church has been an important part of the landscape of the community that has grown around Hartwick Seminary for over 180 years,” Falk said in a college press release. “The changes and additions to the building over time have touched its past. “

Falk said that despite the recreation grounds surrounding the structure, the church “retains its overall historical integrity.” It remains the key component of the former Hartwick Seminary, the namesake for the area, which has evolved into Hartwick College at Oneonta, the statement said.

According to the statement, Falk and his students have been contacted by a member of the church congregation to inquire if the church could be added to the National Register of Historic Places. She and three students – Emma Dambek, Nick DelDuca and Anna Minnebo – conducted research during the spring semester of 2021. They studied the history of Hartwick church and seminary using old newspapers, interviews, published stories and archival documents. They toured the site, took photographs and provided details that were included in a long application to champion the church’s cause for the National Register of Historic Places.

“Service-learning projects like this benefit both the community and the students,” said Falk. “The community will be able to enjoy the historic church for years to come, and students will gain hands-on experience that they can apply directly after graduation.” Minnebo has accepted a position as a Preservation Planner for the City of Holland, Michigan.

The church “wanted this list to recognize both its history but also to be eligible for a grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy Sacred Sites Program,” the statement said.

The outskirts of Cooperstown have evolved, “expanding to serve new roles for the community,” the statement said. “These changes have emanated outward and can be seen around the church,” Falk said. “Despite all the development this stretch of NY-28 has seen, the framework of the Evangelical Lutheran Church with the hills beyond the Susquehanna River towering in the distance remains.”

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