Visiting Fredonia

A picturesque Village in Westen New York

"The best of both worlds!" is how many describe Fredonia, New York, a picturesque village in rural Chautauqua County. Fredonia boasts a thriving downtown commercial area housed in historic architecture adjacent to distinctive civic buildings. The beautiful Barker Commons completes the historic ambience. Shop, eat, relax, spend the night and enjoy cultural activities in a village rich in history. Fredonia is an ideal destination any time of year.

The centerpiece of downtown Fredonia's twin Barker Commons, laid out in 1825, are two two splendidly restored Victorian Cast iron foundations. Floral displays and graceful shade trees make this a focal point for the downtown. The 1891 Fredonia Village Hall, and its recently restored award-winning Opera House, are among the most venerable civic buildings that surround the commons. The gothic Revival Episcopal Church and the Greek Revival Baptist Church both date from the early 19th century and along with the Barker Library, Barker Historical Museum, Post Office, and Methodist Church, frame the New England-style Commons with attractive civic architecture.

But Fredonia's commercial buildings, mainly dating from the 1850s and '60s to the early 20th century, are also of special interest: Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian Gothic, Second Empire, and Academic Revival structures house over 100 businesses. These include eight restaurants and cafes with an ample selection of delicious food and drink. A wide range of other businesses are also found here, such as banks, gift shops, a hardware store, a health club, a card shop, florists, music stores, travel agencies, hairdressers, art and antique shops, jewelry stores and barber shops. Numerous professional offices (attorneys, dentists, accountants, etc.) are also located here. Many of their buildings have been skillfully restored.

Saturday Mornings during the summer a Farmers Market is held next to Village Hall and frequent popular evening concerts take place in the west Commons band stand. In late August the Fredonia Farm Festival of crafts and the civic commercial buildings around it constitute The Barker Commons Historic District, which was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. A beautifully landscaped historic inn is located just a block east of the Commons. Its elegant rooms include antique furnishings, and its restaurant is known throughout the region.

The Village of Fredonia also contains a veritable catalog of interesting 19th and 20th century domestic architecture. A stroll along Central Avenue, a wide tree-lined thoroughfare two blocks from the downtown, will discover a splendid sequence of attractive and well-maintained homes in a wide range of architectural styles, including Gothic Revival, Italinate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick Style and Colonial Revival. In fact, almost any street in Fredonia can boast interesting houses from the 19th and 20th century. At the end of Center Street and Forest Palace there are two Greek Revival Risley Mansions, from the 1830s. Adjacent to Forest Place is Canadaway Creek, a picturesque stream of which parts are a bird sanctuary and public park.

Many historic events highlight Fredonia's past: the first natural gas well in the United States (1821); a visit by General Lafayette in 1825; the first Grange, established in 1868; and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) founded here in 1873. The Barker Museum often has interesting displays on local history and culture.

Toward the eastern end of Central Avenue is the main entrance to the State University of New York College at Fredonia, which includes a dozen striking buildings by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei. Concerts, plays, special lectures, exhibitions and sports events can be enjoyed here much of the year and stroll through its attractively landscaped campus is delightful in any season.

As a place to shop, eat, explore and enjoy, historic Fredonia has much to offer. Come join us!

Adapted from a pamphlet created by Daniel D. Reiff

copyright 1999-2000 - Fredonia Chamber of Commerce.
design by Nicholas Burlett