Fredonia Commons Historic District

Main, Temple, Church, Day, and Center Sts., Fredonia, New York

The city for which Groucho Marx suggested a name change

Photos 

Village Hall & Opera House

Photo taken by J.R. Manning May 2018

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Map 

Street View 

Description 

I met a native of Fredonia while I was there, also snapping photos. He lives in Washington D.C. now and was baptized in the church that caught fire. After the requisite "Holy Smoke!" jokes, he told me some of the history of Fredonia - fascinating - and I will not venture to repeat any of what he told me because I cannot cite his historical notes.

I CAN report, however, that when the 1933 Marx Brothers' film Duck Soup was released, the Village of Fredonia wrote to the Marx Brothers, concerned that their portrayal of the fictional country of Freedonia ("Land of the Brave and Free!") would have a negative impact on their image. Groucho wrote back, demanding the village change its name since it was ruining their film!

This has been documented in several places so as James Thurber used to say, "You could look it up."

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 19, 1978
Reference number
78001843
Architectural styles
Mid 19th Century Revival; Early Republic; Victorian
Areas of significance
Community Planning and Development; Commerce; Education; Politics/Government; Architecture
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
District
Historic functions
College; Religious structure; Single dwelling; Government office; Business
Current functions
Religious structure; Single dwelling; College; Business; Government office
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1800-1824; 1825-1849
Significant years
1834; 1880
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 21
Non-contributing buildings: 2
Non-contributing structures: 1
Non-contributing sites: 1

Update Log 

  • May 30, 2018: New Street View added by Brian Bartlett
  • May 28, 2018: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added Marx Brothers reference and added photographs

Sources