Naples Historical Society, Naples

Naples

Nestled in Ontario County’s southwest corner and surrounded by three neighboring counties to the east, south and west (Yates, Steuben and Livingston, respectively), the community of Naples, which includes the village of Naples and surrounding town of Naples, has a personality formed by several longstanding constants: great scenery, a keen appreciation of the arts and an obsession with grapes.

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Before Naples was Naples, it was called Middletown, as it was a convenient resting point for the trek between Bath and Canandaigua. Before that, it was Watkinsville, named for one of the original European settlers who came to the area in the 1790s from Massachusetts. And long before that, it was Nundawao, an old Seneca village at South Hill, near current-day Naples. Finally, the town was given the name Naples in 1808. Supposedly, a visiting European Count remarked on how the scenery rivaled Naples, Italy, and the name stuck.

Naples is a four-season nature lover’s mecca. The dramatic hills, thick forests, trout-rich streams, and hidden waterfalls surrounding this rural community draw hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, hunters, campers, bird watchers, skiers, and snowshoers. 

Artists have an inherent affinity for Naples’s natural beauty. Sculptors, painters, furniture makers, actors, musicians, and others find inspiration around every corner and Naples loves them right back, encouraging creativity and the artistic lifestyle.

Commercial grape growing first took root in the Naples Valley more than 150 years ago. By the 1880s, Swiss immigrant John Jacob Widmer had established Widmer Wine Cellars, tying Naples’s identity indelibly with grapes. Today, Naples still embraces their grape culture with wineries, purple fire hydrants, grape pies, and the annual Naples Grape Festival in late September that celebrates everything grape.

Naples Fast Facts

History
The township that is now Naples was part of the Phelps-Gorham Purchase. The town of Naples was established in 1789 with the arrival of the first settlers from Massachusetts. The village was not incorporated until 1894.

Population
Village of Naples: 1,041 (2010 Census)
Town of Naples: 2,502 (2010 Census)

Size
Village of Naples: 1 square mile
Town of Naples: 39.5 square miles 

Location
The town of Naples is southwest of Canandaigua Lake, in the southwestern part of Ontario County. The village is in the town. Routes 21, 53 and 245 all come together in the village. 

Terrain
Naples does not intersect with any of the Finger Lakes, but Naples Creek runs through the village on its way to Canandaigua Lake. The town is one of the hilliest areas of the Finger Lakes. 

Key Industries

Wineries: Inspire Moore Winery and Hazlitt's Red Cat Cellars are both in Naples.

Agriculture: Family-owned vineyards and other small farms are in the area. 

Manufacturing: Lake Country Woodworkers manufacturers commercial office furnishings.

Key Landmarks and Attractions

Grimes Glen County Park: The easy 1-mile creek walk leads visitors to lovely waterfalls. The oldest fossilized tree in New York was found in Grimes Glen.

Bristol Valley Theater: Big city talent performs plays and musicals from May to October.

Memorial Town Hall: Built in 1872, this Italianate-style building pays homage to Civil War veterans. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cumming Nature Center: This 900-acre nature center has trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

High Tor Wildlife Management Area: This 6,800-acre wildlife management is known for its steep, wooded terrain.  Activities include hiking, hunting and trapping, fishing, and bird watching.

Sutton Company: Maker of Sutton Spoons, this old-time store offers all the gear and tackle you need for fishing.

St. Januarius Catholic Church: Named after the patron saint of Naples, Italy, this church was designed by Rochester architect James Johnson and completed in 1966. The modern cast concrete walls have round openings filled with colored glass that cast the sanctuary with orbs of colorful light during daylight hours.

Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars: Located in the former Widmer Wine Cellars, this winery makes a variety of styles with hybrid and vinifera grapes. It also makes Cider Tree Hard Cider.

Inspire Moore Winery:  Every wine stands for a characteristic they wish to “Inspire Moore” of in the world, Love, Wisdom, Grace and more. The winery has a portrait of John Lennon in the tasting room.

West Hill Preserve: This 450-acre nature preserve at the south end of the Bristol Hills is a great place to see turkeys, hawks, deer, fox, and turtles.

Hunt Hollow Ski Club: A private winter sports destination for members and invited guests.

Education

Naples Central School District serves students in the village and town of Naples as well as some outlying areas.

Key Events

Naples Creek Rainbow Trout Derby: On April 1, anglers of all ages take part in this legendary derby.

Naples Grape Festival: Lovers of grape pies and wine gather the last weekend of September for food, wine, arts, and music.

Naples Open Studio Trail: Artists in the area open their studios on the first weekend in October.

Vintage, Vines & Valentines: A February celebration of winter, wine and love in downtown Naples.

Community Resources

Naples: http://www.naplesny.us/
Naples Valley Visitors Association: http://www.naplesvalleyny.com/