History of Poughkeepsie

Dutchess County, New York


X  City of Poughkeepsie


Van Keurens

Knapps Corner


Red Oaks Mill


Colonial Heights

MacDonnell Heights

late 17th century  --  Poughkeepsie founded. 

1682  --  local Indians and Patentees Sanders and Hammense sign an accord about the settlement.  The brother-in-law of Sanders was the Dutchman Van Kleeck. 

c. 1692  --  Myndert Van Den Bogert and Johnnnes Van Kleeck discover the rest stop of the Indian trail that gave Poughkeepsie its name.  The spring is near today's Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.  (In 1939 Gerald Foster painted a mural of the imagined scene.)

1702  --  Baltus Barents Van Kleeck's stone house at 222 Mill Street near the Fallkill Upper Landing.  (It no longer stands.)

1714  --  Jacobus Van Den Bogert gave two pieces of land to the settlement: one for a church and the other for a courthouse. 

c. 1716  --  the congregation of the Reformed Dutch Church established by Van Kleeck family members. 

1717  -- courthouse built, the first of a total of five on the same site. 

1767  --  the Rev. John Beardsley purchased land for a "Glebe" or rectory/farm on Filkintown Road in what was then the countryside.  Beardsley was the recent Episcopal minister of Christ Church.  (It is now a city house museum administered by the Dutchess County Historical Society.)

1777  -- ferries operated on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie.

1777  -- the capital of New York, Kingston, burned by the British.  Poughkeepsie became the temporary capital.

1777  --  Stephen Hendriksen built an inn, later called the Forbus Hotel.  The inn was a forerunner of the Nelson House.  Among its guests were Clinton, Jay, Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. 

1785  --  fire destroyed the second courthouse. 

1788  -- the third courthouse was in place for the New York State Ratification Convention. Anti-federalist George Clinton agreed with Federalist Alexander Hamilton to a compromise that included a Bill of Rights. 

1788  --  Gov. George Clinton may have had an office in the Clear Everitt house.  (It is now the headquarters of the Dutchess County Historical Society.)

1792  --  Matthew Vassar born in England. 

1796  --  at age 4, the Vassar family moved from England to New York. 

1799  --  the village created. 

late 18th century  --  the Filkintown Road, which later became Main Street connecting the Hudson River to New England via Pleasant Valley (Route 44) and Manchester (Route 55) Roads.   (The road was named to honor storeowner Henry Filkin.)

1800  --  James Reynolds began a weekly freight and passenger sloop business that ran from the Upper Landing in Poughkeepsie to New York City. 

1806  --  a fire destroyed the third courthouse.

1809  --  demolition of the third courthouse building.

1809  --  Henry Livingston Jr. gave land from their estate for a road, now Route 9.  He and his wife planted a lot of black locust trees that gave the Locust Grove estate its name.  (S. F. B. Morse bought Locust Grove in 1847.)

during War of 1812  --  the woolen factories of George Booth got a big boost due to the embargo on foreign goods. 

1816  --  at age 14, Matthew Vassar ran away to a town near Newburgh, New York.  He became involved in the brewery business and made a fortune in the industry. 

1818  --  James Reynolds and Aaron Innis bought the Hoffmann Mill.  They expanded the services offered: a store and milling and grain transport.

1831  --  Village Hall and Market built; it became the city hall.

1831  --  Eastern House hotel established. 

1830s  --  Miss Lydia Booth, step-niece of Matthew Vassar, ran the Cottage Hill Seminary on Garden Street. 

1830s  --  Matthew Vassar was so inspired by his step-niece, Lydia Booth, he started thinking of creating a women's college.

1833  --  with the help of John Delafield of the Improvement Party, a small Catholic congregation was started. 

1835  --  the Collegiate Hill School building, modeled after the Parthenon, stood on the top of College Hill until 1917. 

c. 1835  --  the Greek Revival style Vassar Street church built by dissenting Presbyterians. 

1835  --  the Improvement Party founded the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School on College Hill.  (It continued until the late 1860s when George Morgan purchased the Greek Parthenon style building and converted it into a hotel.)

1837  -- building of St. Peter's Catholic Church and Rectory, then welcoming European immigrants. 

1841  --  a survey found that a quarter of Poughkeepsie's children received not education at all.  

by 1845  --  European Jews moved to riverside neighborhoods.  Five German Jews formed the Congregation Children of Israel. 

1847  --  foundation of Smith Brothers, famous for cough drops produced on Church Street. 

1847  --  inventor of the telegraph, S.F.B. Morse bought the old Henry Living estate, Locust Grove.  Alexander Jackson Davis helped remodel the house and Andrew Jackson Downing helped improve the grounds. 

1848  --  name of the Congregation Children of Israel changed to Congregation Brethren of Israel.  (Vassar Temple was the only synagogue between New York City and Albany.)

late 1840s  --  a small dry goods store started by Isaac Dribble and Robert Slee.  As a boy, Charles P. Luckey was hired by the store.

1850  --  organization of the Germania Singing Society. 

1852  --  before his death, famous architect hired Andrew Jackson Downing finished a number of structures for Matthew Vassar's Springside estate.  Since there was not main villa, Vassar used the gardener's cottage as his residence in the summer.  Vassar opened the estate to the public, thereby making Springside Poughkeepsie's first public park.

1853  --  the German-American community built the Nativity church on Union Street.  Later, they added a school. 

1853  --  Eastern House hotel burned down.

1853  --  the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery was dedicated.  Matthew Vassar was going to make a cemetery out of part of the old Allen Far at Eden Hill, but the Cemetery Association chose land across the highway from the Vassar property. 

1854  --  Poughkeepsie becomes a city. 

1859  --  Harry Eastman was a go-getter that came to Poughkeepsie.  He started the Eastman Business College.  Its main building was on Washington Street. 

1860  --  the congregation of Vassar Temple remodeled the building.

1861  --  founding of Vassar Female College.  Matthew Vassar established it on land he owned that was then east of Poughkeepsie.  The Second Empire style "Main" building was designed by James Renwick Jr.  

1867  --  the Hudson River State Hospital built on the former James Roosevelt estate. 

1868  --  City architect J. A. Wood designed an opera house for its owner James Collingwood who ran a coal business.

1868  --  while delivering a farewell address to the Vassar College Board of Trustees, Matthew Vassar died.

1869 --  Bardavon 1869 Opera House. 

1869  --  the Slee Brothers dray goods store became the Luckey and Plat store.

late 1860s  --  George Morgan, a mayor of the city of Poughkeepsie, established the College Hill Hotel on College Hill.  He built a lake on the east side of College Hill. 

1870  --  on Independence day, the Soldiers' Fountain near Eastman Park was dedicated. 

1870  --  Jonathan Warner purchased the Dutchess Academy for the Vassar Warner Old Ladies Home to care for elderly Protestant ladies.  

c. 1871  --  the old Poughkeepsie High School on Washington Street erected. 

1872  -- the Luckey and Platt store became Luckey, Platt and Company.  (William De Garmo Smith became a partner.)

1872  --  the College Hill Reservoir built on College Hill.  It became a popular picnic site.

1873 brochure  --   shows Harvey Eastman's plan for the development of the south-side.  (The development was not completed.)

1875  --  Danish immigrant Edward Bech hired Danish architect Detlef Lienau in the construction of the Bech Villa.  Bech owned the Poughkeepsie Iron Company and Falkill Iron Works. 

1880  --  John Guy and Mathew Vassar Jr. (nephews of the founder of Vassar Female College) incorporated the Vassar Brothers' Home for Aged Men located on Vassar Street.  The home was built on the site of Matthew Vassar's home.  His brewery was near by.  (It now houses the Cunneen-Hackett Cultural Center.)

1882  --  Mathew Vassar Jr. left money for a hospital. 

1882-1920  --  John C. Sickley, who served during WWI, was the city library director.  

1883  --  the Brinckerhoff House was the home of Captain John J. Brinckerhoff, captain of the steamer Mary Powell.

1884  --  first electric lights put up in Poughkeepsie. 

1884  --  the main building of the Vassar Brothers' Hospital built on Reade Place.  It became the then largest and most well-equipped hospital between New York City and Albany.

1886  --  the Hudson River State Hospital established the first school of nursing in Dutchess County.

1888  --  Christ Church moved to Academy Street (where it still is) making room for the 1891 Armory. 

1888  --  Railroad bridge over the Hudson built.

1888  --  Italians arrive, working on the Central New England Railroad. 

1889  --  the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge completed. 

1890  --  Poughkeepsie Tennis Club organized.

1891  --  the Armory erected, corner of Market and Church Streets. 

1892  --  W. W. Smith purchased property on College Hill and gave it to the city for a public park.

1894  --  the trolleys were electrified.

1895-1947  --  intercollegiate regattas were held on the Hudson River during this time. 

1897  --  William Hopkins Young, Poughkeepsie socialite, lawyer and director of Farmers' and Manufacturers' Bank, helped found the Dutchess Golf Club.  John E. Adriance, of the Adriance Memorial Library, was its first president.

1898  --  the new Adriance Memorial Library on Market Street completed.  (John C. Sickley, city library director, oversaw every construction detail.)  The library name honored John P Adriance, a local industrialist, and family. 

c. 1900  --  Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared the Governor Clinton office house an historic site. 

19th and 20th centuries  --  the place for  the new immigrants was usually the area of the city near the river. 

turn of the century booklet  -- has a picture of the very popular Smith Brothers Restaurant for dining and meetings. 

1901  --  the Young family purchased Locust Grove (former home of Samuel F. B. Morse) near the golf course.  The Youngs helped start the up-scale residential movement south of the city. 

1903  --  the Polish-Americans established St. Joseph's Church on Lafayette Place. 

1904  --  an Italianate-type courthouse designed by William Beardsley completed.  (It still stands.)   

1904  -- the Luckey-Platt store had become a five-story building.  (It was torn down in 1920.)

1904  --  the Fitchett Brothers Cross Road Farms dairy business was started.

1905  -- Edmund Platt published his History of Poughkeepsie.

1905  -- construction of the Ebenezer Baptist Church near Clinton Square. 

1905  --  the Marist brothers acquired the Edward Bech estate.  It became St. Ann's Hermitage.   

1909  --  the 1909 Hudson Fulton Celebration. 

1911  --  the AME Zion Church built.  It was designed by DuBois Carpenter. 

1911  --  Mrs. Bowne built the Bowne Memorial Hospital for tuberculosis patients in memory of her husband.  (Today it is part of the Dutchess Community College.)

shortly after 1912  --  the Robert Sanford house at 29 North Hamilton Street was torn down to build Poughkeepsie High School. 

1914  --  formation of the Dutchess County Historical Society.

1914  -- the Smith Brothers cough drop factory moved to North Hamilton Street.

1915-1946  --  Henry Noble MacCracken president of Vassar College.

1917  --  a spectacular fire burned the Collegiate Hill School/Hotel Building.  It was replaced by the Dudley Memorial.

1918  -- opening of the Poughkeepsie Railroad Station, designed by Warren and Wetmore, who also did Grand Central Terminal.

1920s photo --  of the Nelson House inn (with roots back to 1777).  It was close to the courthouse and the Bardavon.   

1920s  --  the Pomfret House Hotel and Arcade was located at the intersection of Main and Market.

1920s  --  the Riverview Military Academy closed and Lincoln Center took it over in order to present neighborhood services and programs. 

1920s  --  the swimming pool at Woodcliff Pleasure Park was the largest pool in the East.  It could handle 3,000 people at one time.  The park was built on land that once was the estate of John L. Winslow.  (Today it is the site of the Marist College townhouses.)

1923  --  the Collingwood Opera House became the Bardavon, a movie house with vaudeville acts.

1923  -- opening of a the Adriance Children's Room in the Adriance library. 

1924  --  a new Luckey-Platt store opened. 

c. 1925-1930  -- construction of the Mid-Hudson vehicular bridge.

1929  -- the Marist Normal Training School, in conjunction with Fordham University, granted B.A. degrees.

1930  --  dedication of the Mid-Hudson Bridge.  Future President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor were present. 

1930 (June)  --  Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated a statue of Irishman Thomas Dongan, Governor of New York 1683-1687, at the intersection of Delafield and Mill Streets. 

1932  --  erection of the Polish-American Citizens' Hall at 19 North Bridge Street.   

1934  --  founding of the Poughkeepsie Day School for young children. 

1935  -- the end of trolley service.

1937  --  the WPA built a Parthenon-designed memorial on the top of College Hill and presented it to the city. 

1937  --  President FDR dedicated the new post office. 

by 1937  -- the Woodcliff Pleasure Park had become the city's principle playground. 

1938  --  College Hill had greenhouses and a beautiful rock garden. 

1940  --  Marian Anderson performed at the auditorium of Poughkeepsie High School.

1940  --  dedication of the American Colonial Revival type Violet Avenue School that reflected the architectural ideas of Franklin D. Roosevelt.     

early 1940s  --  ferries disappeared after the toll on the Mid-Hudson Bridge finished.

1941-1990s  --  IBM was the dominant economic force in Dutchess County. 

1943  --  new processing plant for the Fitchett Brothers' dairy business.   (The business continued until 1987.)

1944  -- the Windsor Hotel burned down.

1944  --  the Dudley Memorial burned.  It was later rebuilt.   

1946  --  Marian College became a four-year college. 

1947  --  Sarah Gibson Blanding became the first woman president of Vassar. 

late 1940s and 1950s -- Poughkeepsie had become a vast traffic jam.

1955 --  flood on Smith Street.

1958  -- opening of the Poughkeepsie Plaza. 

1960  --  Marian College became Marist College with 250 students. 

1960s  --  Marlon Brando played at the Hyde Park Playhouse and would haunt Happy Jack's bar on North Bridge Street.   

1960s  --  the Vassar Brothers Institute (given to the city by Matthew Vassar Jr. and John Guy Vassar) revitalized and serves as a place for arte exhibits, concerts and theatrical performances.

1960s  --  Urban Renewal money poured into Poughkeepsie and some neighborhoods were razed. 

1964  -- development of a strong arts coalition in Poughkeepsie. 

1968  -- Matthew Vassar's old Springside Downing-designed estate was threatened by condominium development.  Activists saved the area while allowing some condominiums.

1968  -- opening of the Rip Van Winkle House. It was hoped that mixed income housing would "phase out poverty and unwanted misery."

1970  -- Dutchess Plaza on Dutchess Turnpike opens.

1970s  -- public campaign to save the Bardavon from demolition. 

1971  --  the Union Street area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1974  --  the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge no longer used.  A fire had damaged much of the bridge.

early 1970s  -- land that later became the Bowdoin Park became available.  Thanks to Gretchen Leak, Anita Liguori, Liz Jermyn and Dan Hannigan for saving the land for a park. 

1973  -- the pedestrian mall Main Mall dedicated.

1975  -- opening of the city civic center.

1975  -- creation of Bowdoin Park.  The park land was once river estates, then the Children's Aid Society's summer camp. 

1975  --  the Wallace Company Department Store closed; shopping centers were taking the place of department stores.

1980s  --  teaching students environmental studies takes place on the sloop Clearwater.

1982   --  discontinuation of the Maybrook Line freight service between Poughkeepsie and Hopewell Junction.

1983  -- opening of Metro-North railway service to Poughkeepsie.

early 1990s  --  dramatic downsizing of IBM hurts the Dutchess County economy.

nearing 2000  --  the Bardavon renamed the Bardavon 1869 Opera House and given new life.


Joyce Ghee and Joan Spence.  1997.  Images of America: Poughkeepsie, Halfway up the Hudson.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.

Joyce C. Ghee and Joan Spence.  1999. Images of America: Poughkeepsie: 1898-1998, A Century of Change.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.