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Located within the Tompkins / Main Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, the Cortland Rural Cemetery features two structures of historic and asthetic significance to the Cortland community. Read more about them below!


Designed by the celebrated architect and Cortland native George W. Conable, and constructed in 1922, the Cortland Rural Cemetery's beautiful chapel had fallen into disrepair over the ensuing decades. Largely through the determined efforts and financial support of former CRC Board of Trustees member/President, Charles Gibson, the chapel was restored to its original beauty in 2008-09 and dedicated in honor of the Gibson family. (Read a more extensive, 2009 historical perspective on the chapel, written by CRC Board Member Christine E. Buck and Executive Director Andrew Palm.)

To recognize the support of Charles Gibson (1927 - 2007) and Margaret Gibson (1925-2013), the Cortland Rural Cemetery and its Foundation dedicated the chapel in October of 2009.


More about Charles Gibson: Long a public-spirited citizen in Cortland, and a member of the Cemetery's Board of Trustees, Charles Gibson devoted his endless energies and wide-ranging talents to improving the community and its institutions. In his roles as Member, Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, and President of the Cemetery Board, he initiated and supported numerous improvements, particularly what might be deemed the 'rescue' of the chapel. The passing of Charles Gibson in 2007 did not end his philanthropic assistance to the cemetery. His bequest inspired the Foundation to initiate an Endowment Campaign in 2008. His sister, Margaret Gibson, then generously matched his gift, making the total Gibson contribution the largest share of the nearly $300,000 raised during the campaign.


More about Margaret Gibson: Margaret Gibson's generous nature and community spirit matched that of her brother Charles. Drawing on her innate talents, as well as her professional experience as Director of Publications for Ithaca College, she has always made a difference in the charitable organizations of both Ithaca and Cortland. Her influence and legendary persistence have persuaded others to support such causes, which notably include the Cortland Rural Cemetery. Indeed, as a member of the Cortland Rural Cemetery Foundation, Margaret never failed to offer financial assistance when it was needed -- including a significant gift made following her passing in 2013. (Margaret Gibson's obituary can be viewed here.)



Constructed in 1922, the Gibson Chapel was originally designed by a renowned, New York City-based architect named George W. Conable. (See other examples of Mr. Conable's work; read a more extensive biographical article written by CRC Board Member Christine Buck.)

Born in Cortland on October 4, 1866, Conable graduated from the Cortland State Normal School (now SUNY Cortland) in 1882 and, in 1886, graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in architecture. From that point, Conable continued his training in the offices of C. P. H. Gil­bert, Bar­ney & Chap­man ~ and the office of Er­nest Flagg, where he was responsible for the preparation of the plans and working drawings of the Singer Building (1905-08, demolished).

"In 1908, Conable designed the Trinity Lutheran Church and parsonage at 164 West 100th Street in Manhattan, the same year he entered into partnership with Hobart B. Upjohn, a specialist in the design of churches. From 1908 to 1914, the firm of Upjohn & Conable designed many churches of all denominations in New York and other states. Among the firm’s commissions within New York City was Trinity Lutheran Church and Parish House (1913-14) in Staten Island, which is now included in the St. Paul’s Avenue-Stapleton Heights Historic District.

Conable returned to independent general practice in 1914 specializing in churches, schools, and hospitals. Among his commissions were St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in the Bronx, Trinity Lutheran Church in Schenectady, the bathing pavilions and other buildings at Oakland Beach, Rye, New York, Main Hall of Wagner College, Staten Island, [and] the New Hyde Park Public School in Nassau County... Conable was particularly active in Jamaica [NY] where he designed the Central Queens Branch of the Y. M. C. A. and Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Building and served as consulting architect, in association with William E. Austin, on the design of the Queensboro Contagious Disease Hospital.

His association with Austin began during his partnership with Hobart Upjohn and continued for several years. The two men collaborated on the Hallenbach-Hungerford Building in Manhattan and several contagious disease hospitals throughout the city. Formerly affiliated with the firm of Conable, Smith & Rowley, Assoc. Architects, at the time of his death in 1933, Conable was associated with Robert J. Schirmer and Julius W. Schmidt." +

Here in Cortland, in addition the chapel at the Cortland Rural Cemetery, Conable's design work included the Cortland Democrat building on Central Avenue (a now bygone weekly newspaper) and the Central High School (now the Cortland County Office Building).

Conable's funeral was held in the chapel and he himself is buried in the Cortland Rural Cemetery.

+ Source: Marianne S. Percival, Research Department

Landmarks Preservation Commission

October 26, 2010 Report, re: Designation of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Building as a Landmark (see full report)


Designed by Carl Wesley Clark and built in 1928 in the Tudor style, our Superintendent's house and matching office/garage include distinctive features like prominent cross gables, steeply pitched Vermont slate roofs, and decorative half-timbering. Set back from the busy traffic scene, they have retained much of their large lawns from the encroaching Tompkins Street.


It was fortunate for the city of Cortland that Carl W. Clark married Ann Taylor of Pitcher, as Cortland was the closest city to her home town without an architect.

Born in Denver, educated in Brooklyn, Clark went to work for a general contractor in New York City from 1908-1911 and to night school at Cooper Union (1909-1910) to begin his professional studies. His draftsman skills were recognized by his next employer who encouraged him to attend the University of Pennsylvania's College of Architecture's special two-year program which he completed in l914. Later that year he opened his first officein Cortland in the Squire's Building (Clock Tower Building). War in Europ e put a shadow on local building and Clark's first year's gross was only $700.


Few people influenced the education of New York State's youth more than Carl Wesley Clark who was responsible for the design and construction of more than 150 primary and secondary schools during the mid-twentieth century. His architectural achievements also included libraries, churches, residences, commercial and industrial buildings, college facilities, as well as additions to and remodeling of a large number of buildings.


A few examples of his work are the fernery of the 1890 House, the sun-room area of Alumni House, both A. B. Parker and Randall Schools, the bungalows along Huntington St. (built for Smith-Corona workers to purchase), Cortland Free Library. In 1946, Clark relocated his firm to Syracuse, but Cortland continued on his drawing board. Between l949 and l966 he received his largest academic commission of twelve buildings for today's SUNY Cortland: Brockway Hall (for which Clark is said to have convinced George Brockway to invest $100,000), Moffett Center, Neubig Memorial Hall, and nine resident halls.

Clark retired in l972, after which his son, Robert T. Clark (also an architect) took over practice and led it until 1992. (See Robert Clark's obituary, here.)

Carl W. Clark died at his Fayetteville home on November 7, l985 at the age of 92. Among other honors, Clark was a fellow of the American Institute of Architecture. Carl Clark maintained his Cortland connection as a life member of the Cortland Country Club.

(This summary written/contributed by CRCF Board member and Cortland historian Mary Ann Kane.)

See more examples of Carl W. Clark's significant and lasting architectural contribution to the Central New York community here: This portfolio (also referred to as an AIA Fellowship Book) comes to us compliments of Richard A. Pallone of Syracuse, NY -- who worked with both Carl W. Clark and his son Robert at the firm.

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