Skaneateles ( or ) is a village in the town of Skaneateles, Onondaga County, New York, United States. The village is named from and located on the shores of Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. As of the 2010 census, the village had a population of 2,450 residents.
Settlers populated the eastern Finger Lakes region rapidly in the 1790s. Water power from the outlet from Skaneateles Lake made the site of the present village attractive. Although it had been thought that the first permanent Caucasian settler in the area was John Thompson, further research has shown that Abraham A. Cuddeback was first, arriving in 1794 from Minisink, New York; Cuddeback died in 1831. Originally part of the town of Marcellus, the town and village of Skaneateles were annexed from Marcellus and Spafford on February 26, 1830 and March 18, 1840 respectively.
The village, which incorporated in 1833 and 1855, attracted prominent residents from an early date. In 1803 a major New York State landowner from New York City, William J. Vredenburgh, erected an ambitious mansion. In 1839 Nicholas Roosevelt, "one of the leading industrial entrepreneurs of the period [who] had built the big steam engines for the Philadelphia waterwork", also from New York City, retired to Skaneateles with his wife, Lydia Latrobe – daughter of the noted architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
In the same year, Richard DeZeng, an engineer and canal builder, retired from Oswego, New York to a mansion on the lake. Acquired forty years later by another member of the Roosevelt family, Samuel Montgomery Roosevelt, the Greek Revival house became known as "Roosevelt Hall." It may be the work of Ithiel Town, the partner of Alexander Jackson Davis, who designed the house of Reuel Smith, a wealthy Massachusetts importer who retired to Skaneateles. Built in 1852, the architecturally distinguished house, designed in the Gothic Revival style, has been designated to the National Registry; its plans are in the Library of Congress.
Many early residents such as James Canning Fuller came from Great Britain, largely because of the Quaker community here, giving the early village a cosmopolitan tone. Fuller and his wife, Lydia, maintained an active Underground Railroad station at their village home (built 1815, extant at 98 Genesee Street). Fuller was co-founder of the British-American Institute, a Canadian school for fugitive slaves, together with the adjoining settlement of Dawn, near Dresden, Ontario.
For more than two centuries Skaneateles has also attracted visitors and tourist. An excursion boat, launched in 1816, probably was the first instance of commercial tourist recreation in the Finger Lakes region.