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Athens merges with Sayre, a later railroad town that borders New York State. Together they fill the inhabitable part of the isthmus between the Chemung and Susquehanna rivers, which converge at Tioga Point. The Connecticut-based Susquehanna Company appreciated the site's geographical advantages, and in 1786 laid out the town. Athens grew slowly, becoming a borough in 1831 about a decade after a bridge was completed across the Chemung River. The town's economy benefited from the extension of the North Branch Canal to the New York state line in 1856 and the arrival of the Erie Railroad in 1869. Athens's most significant architecture dates from 1825 to 1920 and is concentrated along S. Main Street. Many of the town's Greek Revival houses follow the form popular in New England and New York: gable ends framed by pilasters supporting an entablature. A good example is the c. 1840 Lemuel Ellsworth House at 736 S. Main Street. The Ionic portico of the 1841–1843 Chauncey N. Shipman house at 615 S. Main Street places it among the Northern Tier's most sophisticated Greek Revival houses. Charles Welles's Italianate house (1851) is at 617 S. Main Street. At 301 S. Main Street is a fine Georgian Revival sandstone ashlar post office (1940, Louis A. Simon) with a mural (1941) depicting local history by Allen Jones. William H. Day of New York City designed the Queen Anne house at 723 S. Main Street in 1882. The foursquare Trinity Church Parsonage (1910, Pierce E. Bickford) at 701 S. Main Street is next to the 1860 Trinity Episcopal Church. Flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes severely damaged much of the town's commercial district along Elmira Avenue in 1972, but “Patrick's Block,” a Civil War–era row of brick Italianate commercial buildings, remains at 702–710 S. Main Street.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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