Arnout Cannon, Jr. – Poughkeepsie’s Architect

*Content warning-this post discusses an incident involving suicide.

Several prominent architects got their starts here in Poughkeepsie, and we are fortunate to have benefited from their work. Notable figures like Percival Lloyd, William Beardsley, Jay A. Wood, and Arnout Cannon, Jr. left their marks all over the city of Poughkeepsie. Some of these buildings are long gone, some are standing, and others are being restored for future use. Arnout Cannon Jr. was one of the most well-known names in local architecture, and he created some beautiful pieces, even though his life was filled with pain.

Arnout Cannon Jr. was born on August 3, 1839, in Poughkeepsie. He was one of five sons of the prominent builder Arnout Cannon Sr. He learned carpentry at a young age before heading off to New York City to study architecture under Frederick Draper. But before Cannon Jr. began his serious career in architecture, he served in the Civil War in the 128th NYS Volunteers. In 1862 he joined as a sergeant and two of his brothers also served in the 150th–also known as the Dutchess County Regiment. When he got back from the war, he was able to start building projects. He became engaged in projects that included the Vassar Brothers Institute, and Vassar Brothers Old Men’s Home (now occupied by the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center). Besides his building skills, his ability as an inventor gained him substantial wealth when he created the Cannon Patented Dumbwaiter. 

By 1884, Cannon moved from the construction side of things to focus exclusively on architectural design. Three years later, he designed and built his residence and office at 204 Church Street in Poughkeepsie. Only a portion of this building is still standing and is currently being restored. A brick row of townhouses that Cannon also designed still stands just east of his home along Church Street. In 1888, Cannon redesigned Wilderstein, the Suckley estate in Rhinecliff, from its original Italianate villa-style into the fashionable Queen Anne-style mansion. His brother George worked on the carpentry of the project. This home can be seen via guided tours, or just by walking the grounds to admire the beautiful exterior. Cannon designed the William T. Reynolds house (now the Italian Center on Mill Street in Poughkeepsie), as well as several modest homes on Carroll and Montgomery streets and Hooker Avenue while creating more elaborate residences for well-to-do residents on Garfield Place and Balding Avenue. He also designed one of the Adriance homes on Academy Street and a beautiful mausoleum in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery for the Tower Family. 

The painful parts of his life concern the amount of sickness and death within his family. Arnout and his wife Ann Eliza had their first child Ida in 1862 when he joined the war (Ida lived a good long life). When he came back from service, they had their first son Herbert Lincoln Cannon in 1865. In 1867 they had Arnout Benjamin; both of these sons died from Scarlet Fever in 1868. Then Franklin was born in 1869 and Florence in 1870; both children died from Congestion of the brain. Edward was born in 1871 and died a day later from “weakness.” Next was Howard Arnout, born in 1872, who luckily lived a good long life. Then they had Valena in 1874 who died quickly from “spasms,” and finally Grace Ann was born in 1877, and though she lived a good long life, sadly her mother Ann Eliza died giving birth to her. So, in a quick span of 15 years, there would be nine children, six died young, the stress of which was too much for Ann, who passed at the age of 38.    

Arnout remarried and had another son, but he was no doubt heartbroken from all that had happened. In 1895, seemingly at the height of his success, Cannon developed some serious medical issues with his eyes and was forced to retire from the field he loved at only 56 years of age. On March 31, 1898, Cannon had breakfast in his home on Church street and walked to the nearby Masonic Temple just a few blocks away. That building was reportedly the favorite of all of his redesigns. It was there he took a seat in the empty hall, pointed a revolver to his heart, and fired. Arnout Cannon died at the scene and was laid to rest at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. 

Check out our documentary on Arnout Cannon Jr. on our YouTube page!


Letters between A. and G. Cannon and R. Suckley, Wilderstein Historic Site Archives, 1888-1889
Griffen, Salley and Clyde. “Natives and Newcomers: The Ordering of Opportunity in Mid-nineteenth-century Poughkeepsie.”
Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle: 1 Apr 1898, 29 Dec 1888
Platt, Edmund. “The Eagle’s History of Poughkeepsie: From the Earliest Settlements 1683-1905”
Fitch, Charles E. “Encyclopedia of Biography of New York, a life of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preeminent in their own and many other states” Vol. 1
Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery Archives – Cannon Plot File
Musso, Anthony. Poughkeepsie Journal, Dateline: “Cannon designed prominent Poughkeepsie Buildings.” 2015, Jun 23.
Wahlberg, Holly. “Statement of Significance: 204 Church Street (Residence of architect Arnout Cannon) 2014, Sep 26.


Photo-01- Photograph of Arnout Cannon Jr. – LH Collections.
Photo-02 – A postcard showing the Vassar Brothers Institute, one of Cannon’s early building projects. – LH Collections.
Photo-03 – Photograph of the Masonic Lodge on Cannon Street. It was originally built in 1845 as a Methodist church but Cannon redesigned it in 1894. – LH Collections.
Photo-04 – Image from the Poughkeepsie Eagle News showing one of Cannon’s designs.
Photo-05 – Article from the Poughkeepsie Eagle News concerning the suicide of Cannon.