The Butternut Valley is a beautiful and picturesque valley in upstate New York, Otsego County. It is rich in history and landscape. Butternut valley is located at the western foothills of the Catskill Mountains and is today still engulfed by the natural beauty its settlers were welcomed by. The Butternut Valley, once called "the most beautiful and fertile valley in the State of New York" is a place of lush farmland, flowing creeks, rivers and wildlife, surrounded by endless and majestic mountains.
The Town of Butternuts was one of the first in Otsego County to be settled. This was probably due to its location on the Unadilla River. Butternuts is generally believed to be named for three butternut trees growing from one stump that originally marked the corner of the townships of what is now New Lisbon, Pittsfield and Morris.
In 1787, Abijah Gilbert, an Englishman, bought 1000 acres from Jacob Morris, early owner of land in Butternuts. Abijah Gilbert was the first settler in what is now Gilbertsville. He spent several years in preparing his land and building a home, after which time he returned to his native England to get his family. Other new settlers from England and some New Englanders moving westward in search of better land, added to this little community. During the next century the village would grow into a significant focus for agriculture and a major stop for travelers. The coming of the railroads doomed Gilbertsville's small industries, as it did in so many other communities. But the enterprising villagers substituted a lively summer resort trade. The energy and drive of English settlers and their descendants, together with a location which provided water power and good farmland, have combined to create and sustain the village of Gilbertsville.
The English heritage of the settlers has had a noticeable influence upon the architecture of the village. Even though the village has this great depth of history, the center part of the Gilbertsville most people think of today as "original", dates to about 100 years ago, at the end of the 1800s. This was due to four fires disastrous fires.
In 1866 a fire destroyed the main business district. In 1874 an arson fire destroyed 30 buildings and left many homeless. In 1893 many stores in the center of town were lost. In 1895 the Gilbert homestead was damaged and the old Stag's Head Inn was destroyed. It is to the credit of the residents that on the vacant lands created by these fires, the village was rebuilt, and the last time in a most glorious fashion. Major James Gilbert, a descendant of Abijah's, with the help of some very skilled local craftsmen, used this last fire as an opportunity to recreate here a replica of an English Tudor town, with the Major's Inn being at the center. His inspiration and his legacy live on in the community to this day.
Today, buildings from all the various stages of Gilbertsville's development remain essentially unchanged, creating an architectural record of the history and growth of the village. The quality of its structures, the lack of modern intrusions, the small parks and many trees, all contribute to making this one of the most beautiful and historically intact villages in Otsego County.
OK, so technically, we are not in the village of Gilbertsville, but our street is less than a mile away. We are actually in the town of Butternuts, N.Y. In our defense, when we bought the place in 2005 and for the next eight years (up until when we needed to file some work permits), we thought that we were in Gilbertsville, hence, our name. To confuse you even more, for the post office, Mapquest and GPS, we are listed as being in South New Berlin, N.Y. Well, hey, things up here work a little differently, but that's why we love it!
Each year, the village of Gilbertsville celebrates the anniversary of its recognition by National Register of Historic Places and the N.R.H.P. recognition of the entire village as an Historic District. This distinction, which celebrates the village's rich history and architecture, also serves as a testament to the people of Gilbertsville's tremendous resilience and heart.
In 1966, the Village of Gilbertsville was under a very real threat of destruction from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project. A dam was to be built which would flood the valley, including the village of Gilbertsville, to create a three-mile long lake.
From that time until the late 70's, Gilbertsville residents and their supporters protested the project and studied and researched tirelessly to eventually create a 16 page pamphlet, which included facts, photographs and over 190 inventory reports describing the importance of the village and its history. It was presented to the congressional committee reconsidering funding of the project.
All of their efforts paid off when deauthorization of funding for the complete Upper Susquehanna River Shed Project was proposed to Congress in 1979. Within a year, the threat of the construction of the dams was removed.
The National Register of Historic Places recognition of the entire village of Gilbertsville as an Historic District was awarded in May 1983.
As you drive into Gilbertsville, you will immediately notice the breathtaking Major's Inn. A historic former inn and tavern, she stands as the crowned jewel of the village's historic designation, with a pair of magnificent lions standing at her doors, guarding her history and beauty.
Although no longer an inn, but a cultural center for the Butternuts area, the Major's Inn is a reminder of the grandeur and splendor that once was in this small upstate village. It represents a time in the history of upstate New York, when the areas natural resources were used to secure several family fortunes. In the early Industrial Era, the Tudor-style 55-room inn was the center of commerce and hospitality.
The medieval English Tudor and Gothic building was commissioned by Major James L. Gilbert, the eighth son of a village merchant whose ancestors founded the village, and was designed by Boston architect Henry Forbes Bigelow. Construction began in 1896 and finished in 1917 on the site of the original 1822 Gilbert homestead which burned in 1895.
Originally, Major Gilbert built the structure to replace his childhood home. After construction on the building began, Gilbert decided to expand the site and turned the whole idea into an inn of distinction. The Gilbert family opened the house as The Major's Inn in 1904. It thrived as an Inn throughout the first half of the century.
The Inn went through a series of owners during the 1950s to 1970s and, beginning in 1980, a group founded the Major's Inn Foundation, Inc. and began to raise funds for the purchase of the property. Today, under the ownership of the Foundation, the Major's Inn has been significantly restored and serves as a cultural center.
Gilbertsville Farmhouse is located in an ideal area for a destination wedding.
We are centrally located in upstate New York, close to so many sites and activities.
Aside from relaxing, enjoying nature, canoeing, hiking, fishing and star-gazing,
there are plenty of fun places to visit in our surrounding area.
There are many fine restaurants, ice cream shops, apple and fruit picking, and antique shopping.
You can visit local farms, candy shops or view the entire area from a hot air balloon!
There are also many local festivals that take place throughout the spring, summer and fall.