Otsego 2000 will offer walking tours of Sharon Springs and Richfield Springs focusing on the villages’ historic architecture according to a media release from the organization.

The Sharon Springs walk at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31, will highlight adaptations made to the built environment to welcome Jewish visitors, especially after World War II. The Richfield Springs walk at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, will focus on the interplay between resort and village architecture.

Water, and the perceived healing properties of springs rich in magnesium, iron and sulfur, brought people to Sharon Springs and Richfield Springs for generations, the release said.

“After World War II, Jewish travel to Sharon Springs increased as Holocaust survivors received water treatments, and a distinct Jewish culture flourished in the area. Much of the built environment today, including the synagogue, eruv, and guest houses, reflects that period,” said Dr. Cindy Falk, who will lead the tour.

The buildings constructed in Sharon Springs, many in popular revival styles of the late 1800s and early 1900s, “demonstrate just how connected this small Schoharie County village was,” the release said.

Owners built “palaces and temples” where spring water could be accessed and built lodging houses, hotels and cabins where visitors could stay.

Richfield Springs, farther west on Route 20, also features buildings designed by noted architects, as well as boarding houses for those looking to escape the city heat and benefit from spring water treatments, the release said. In Richfield Springs, public buildings such as the library, churches and school provided stylish community spaces that incorporated the architectural fashions favored by seasonal guests. Both Sharon Springs and Richfield Springs are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Understanding our historic built environment — what distinguishes a Victorian from a Greek Revival or an Italianate building — helps to interpret how our communities developed in relation to the climate and to fashions over time,” said Ellen Pope, Otsego 2000 executive director.

“This knowledge is vital to understanding how sense of place is created by our architectural history, and what could be lost if these buildings aren’t preserved for future generations.”

A professor of material culture at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Falk served as co-editor of Buildings & Landscapes: The Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum for five years. She is an adviser to Otsego 2000.

The cost for each tour is $10. Register in advance at otsego2000.org or by calling 607-547-8881.

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