Cooperstown is a village in and county seat of Otsego County. Most of the village lies within the town of Otsego, but some of the eastern part is in the town of Middlefield. Cooperstown is best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Farmers’ Museum, opened in 1944 on farm land that had once belonged to James Fenimore Cooper, the Fenimore Art Museum, Glimmerglass Opera, and the New York State Historical Association are also based here. Most of the historic pre-1900 core of the village is included in the Cooperstown Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980; its boundaries were increased in 1997 and more contributing properties were identified.
The village was developed within part of the Cooper Patent, which William Cooper – who later became a county judge – purchased in 1785 from Colonel George Croghan, former Deputy to Sir William Johnson, a British Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Northern District. The land amounted to 10,000 acres. William Cooper founded a village on Otsego Lake. His son James Fenimore Cooper grew up in the frontier town. He later became a noted American author with The Leathersocking Tales, a series of historical novels that includes The Last of the Mohicans.
Cooper established the village of Cooperstown in 1786, laid out by surveyor William Ellison. At the time, the area was part of Montgomery County. It was incorporated as the “Village of Otsego” on April 3, 1807. The name was changed to “Village of Cooperstown” June 12, 1812 after the founder. William Cooper was appointed as a county judge in the late 18th century, and was elected to the state assembly from Otsego County.
Cooperstown is one of only twelve villages in New York still incorporated under a charter, the other villages having incorporated or re-incorporated under the provisions of Village Law.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, and operated by private interests. It serves as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, displays baseball-related artifacts and exhibits, and honors those who have excelled in playing, managing and serving the sport. The Hall’s motto is “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.”