Art in the Time of Covid

by Shannon Butler We here in the Local History department can certainly say that we miss visiting our local historic sites, museums, and galleries. One of the great things about Poughkeepsie is that we have so many fabulous places to visit that are close at hand. We happen to have a world famous art gallery right here in our city, the Vassar College Art Gallery, also known as the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. This is the first college in our country’s history to have an art gallery as part of its original plan. As a result of the forward thinking of Matthew Vassar, the college began collecting some of the world’s greatest pieces of art long before institutions like the Metropolitan Museum or the Fine Arts museum in Boston were even established. What a pleasure to walk onto the fabulous campus with its breathtaking architecture and then take a right into the art gallery that holds a massive collection right here in our backyard. You can see some of the Hudson River School artists like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and Asher B. Durand. Then there is the gallery filled with Egyptian and Roman sculptures from thousands of years ago. What [...]

Art in the Time of Covid2024-05-17T09:44:57-04:00

Steaming North – The Hudson River Day Line

by Shannon Butler Have you ever sailed up the Hudson River? It truly is a wonderful feeling to hop on a boat in New York City and take your sweet time as you make your way north. First, you pass by the steep cliffs of the Palisades, then around the curve of Anthony’s Nose, pass the barracks at West Point, then around the ruins of Bannerman Island, and finally to the base of Main Street in Poughkeepsie. Making that journey on a sailboat could take you a few days depending on the wind, but with a good steam boat, it only took about 4 hours. And when you journeyed on one of the stylish Hudson River Day Line ships, you traveled in a little bit of elegance. The Hudson River Day Line prided itself on speed in the early 1860’s. Alfred Van Santvoord had taken over some of his father Abraham’s business of steamboats that ran on the Erie Canal and the Hudson. At the time they had the fastest ship on the Hudson, the Daniel Drew which in 1855 had set the record for fastest time from Albany to New York City (7 hours, 20 minutes). In 1863 the company [...]

Steaming North – The Hudson River Day Line2024-05-16T16:22:17-04:00

The Many Inhabitants of St. Andrews-On-Hudson

by Shannon Butler Many of us have visited the Culinary Institute of America located on Route 9 on the southern edge of Hyde Park. Perhaps you went for some fine food, or to take a tour, or you may have even taken some classes there. The classes offered at the C.I.A. are of course food and drink related these days but did you know that the main building on the campus was originally designed to teach young men how to be Jesuits? Did you know that many of these Jesuits are buried right on the campus, not far from where you enjoyed that fancy meal? As a matter of fact, the property where the C.I.A. sits today is filled with interesting history going back even to early Native American inhabitants. Back in 2003, evidence was discovered during an archaeological dig that showed that people have been using the acres around the C.I.A. campus since before Europeans settled the area. Certain spots along the Maritje Creek (that runs down the hill towards the river), were prime locations for prehistoric occupation. Tools were discovered along with fire hearths which would have been used by early Native Americans long before any stone or brick [...]

The Many Inhabitants of St. Andrews-On-Hudson2024-05-16T16:20:32-04:00

The Death of FDR – 75 Years Later

by Shannon Butler This week marks 75 years since the death and funeral services of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our neighbor and fellow history nerd. We thought we would take a look at the events surrounding this sad yet important anniversary. On the evening of March 24th, 1945, FDR ventured home to his beloved Hyde Park. His appointment book was blank for the next few days which meant he could simply enjoy the quiet comfort of his family’s home and perhaps work on his stamp collection or do some bird watching (two of his favorite hobbies). We know that he had a meeting with the director of his presidential library, Mr. Shipman before returning to Washington D.C. on the morning of the 29th. He had a few quick meetings during the course of the day before getting on a train to head south to what he considered to be his second home, Warm Springs, Georgia. By this point in the President’s life he was incredibly ill and frail. His heart was failing him and his blood pressure could not be controlled (at least once, it had reached 260/150). The stress of the war and the conditions of serving as President for [...]

The Death of FDR – 75 Years Later2024-02-01T15:41:57-05:00

Industrial Poughkeepsie – Schatz Federal Bearing Corp.

by Shannon Butler When the Schatz family brought their business of making ball bearings to Poughkeepsie in the early 20th century, they probably didn’t know what sort of impact they would leave on this community. The business started out in a small, one story factory with 75 employees and grew to a large complex with over 1,000 employees at its height. In fact, it was hard to find someone who didn’t know someone who worked for Schatz. By the mid-20th century the company had contracts with some of the biggest names in business including Ford Motor Company. During World War II; Schatz, like many other companies in the area, was pumping out products for the war effort. Here in the Local History department we have an entire collection of Schatz related material including images taken of the inside of the factory during its height in the 1940’s and several ledgers filled with scraps of newspaper articles concerning the company’s employees. A lot of the scraps that were saved are of Schatz’s sports teams that played baseball and basketball in local tournaments against other corporations like IBM and Western Publishing. What’s neat about these scrap books (that date from the early 1900s) [...]

Industrial Poughkeepsie – Schatz Federal Bearing Corp.2023-10-19T12:56:56-04:00

Fun with Family Photo Albums

by Shannon Butler For this week’s entry, we thought it would be fun to take a look at a family photo album from the early 20th century. These images were taken by members of the Konsier and Russell families and if you look closely, you may recognize some of the places they photographed. Anna Gertrude Russell was born and raised in Staatsburg NY, the daughter of a William (a painter based on the census records) and Gertrude Russell. Anna married a printer from Poughkeepsie named Louis Konsier in 1905 and in 1906 they had a daughter named Florence. Off to the right you can see Anna when she was a young new bride sitting on the porch. Louis can be seen holding his young daughter Florence as they take a nature walk through Vassar. Anna and her daughter sit for a portrait together in the next photograph. On the porch of the Konsier family home in Poughkeepsie we can see Louis holding his clarinet with a friend playing the banjo (we wonder if this band was any good?). William Russell, the brother of Anna, stands on the porch of his home in Staatsburg. Someone in the family also enjoyed photographing their [...]

Fun with Family Photo Albums2024-05-16T16:17:58-04:00

Public Works of Art – Olin Dows

by Shannon Butler Have you ever been inside some of our local historic post offices and admired the murals? Those paintings are there thanks to the vision of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and some of his New Deal programs including the Public Works of Art program (PWAP) which was established in 1933 and  The Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture (later known as the Section of Fine Arts), commonly known as the Section. The plan was to put America’s great artists to work and for one local artist, these programs made his work famous (at least to us locals). Olin Dows was born right here in the Hudson Valley at Irvington-on-Hudson in 1904. His family moved to Rhinebeck when he was four years old. His father, Tracy Dows had married Alice Olin whose Livingston wealth allowed them to build a lovely estate which became known as Foxhollow Farm. When Olin was 12, he attended St. Mark’s School in Southboro MA where he figured out at an early age that he wanted to be a painter. He stated that his inspirations included great artists of the past as well as more modern minds, which included everything from Michelangelo to Maxfield Parrish. As a [...]

Public Works of Art – Olin Dows2024-05-16T16:14:49-04:00

19th Century Diseases in Dutchess County

by Shannon Butler “Nothing contributes more, perhaps, to preserve a constitution healthy, and to restore it when disordered, than a calm dispassionate state of mind” – From The Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases by Dr. Shadrach Ricketson, 1806. With everyone being more conscience of health and well-being today, we thought we would take this time to look at some of the health issues of the past and how they were dealt with right here in Dutchess County. Here in the Local History collection are several old books relating to diseases and medicine along with a large collection of old hospital reports from several of the hospitals in the area. Some of our earliest pieces concern the work of Dr. Hunting Sherrill, a doctor who practiced both in Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie and served as the President of the Dutchess Medical Society. Sherrill was born in Stanford NY in 1783 and studied medicine at the Geneva College. He came to practice in Hyde Park in 1809 and married Margaret Mulford in Staatsburg in 1811. In our collection we have a book that contains two addresses that Sherrill gave before the Dutchess Medical Society in 1819 and 1825. In the first, [...]

19th Century Diseases in Dutchess County2024-05-16T16:13:52-04:00

Collection’s Spotlight – Margaret DeMott Brown

by Shannon Butler We have some wonderful things stored away in boxes and folders here in the Local History Room. Every once in a while we come across something that we forgot we had and when we come across it again, we remember just how cool it really is. Recently we were asked if we had some photographs by a female photographer named Margaret DeMott Brown. As it turns out, we have quite a few of them. As it turns out, Margaret had a studio right here in Poughkeepsie and much of her work was based on subjects in and around Dutchess County. We thought we would join in with the Dutchess County Historical Society’s endeavor to celebrate Women’s Voices and Talents by showcasing some of Margaret’s work. Margaret DeMott Brown was born in Jacksonville Illinois on March 1st, 1880, into a family that believed in the education of women. Her grandfather William Holden De Motte had been instrumental in the foundation of schools for women as well as the deaf. Margaret appears to have been interested in photography for quite some time, as evidence shows her beginning to advertise the sale of her photographs in 1905. Also around this time, [...]

Collection’s Spotlight – Margaret DeMott Brown2024-05-16T16:16:14-04:00

Upcoming Local History Discussion Night – Luckey, Platt, and Co.

by Shannon Butler So for those of you fellow history nerds out there, we wanted to take this week’s blog entry and do a bit of marketing, if you will, for our upcoming Local History Discussion Night. If you came out to our first evening it was mostly just us trying to figure out what we wanted our discussion nights to consist of. We listened to your suggestions and we have decided to start off each discussion night with a brief presentation on a part of our local history, followed by discussion and (it possible) sharing of memories. We put together a list of things you suggested we should focus on and for our next meeting we will take a special look at the history of Luckey, Platt, and Co. Just to get you interested in joining us for the discussion group, here is a little sneak peek… The history of Poughkeepsie’s own department store has humble beginnings that go back to 1866. That’s when Charles Pinkney Luckey began his career as a dry goods clerk at a store that belonged to Isaac Dribble and Robert Slee. Young Luckey had to walk from the Samuel F. B. Morse where his father [...]

Upcoming Local History Discussion Night – Luckey, Platt, and Co.2024-05-16T16:10:33-04:00

Hidden Mansions: Tioronda/Craig House

by Shannon Butler We continue our look at Mansions along the Albany Post Road corridor this week with a house that has a fascinating history with some equally fascinating characters. Just outside the City of Beacon on Route 9D is a fabulous old Gothic Mansion that has served as a residence and a retreat for the mentally ill. Though it has a somewhat ominous look about it, there was a time when this mansion saw brighter days and hopefully it has a brighter future ahead of it. The mansion’s first use was as a home which was designed by Frederick Clarke Withers for Joseph Howland and his wife Eliza. Joseph was born in 1834, the son of Samuel Howland who had made his fortune as one of the founding members of the shipping firm, Howland and Aspinwall. This firm made its wealth in the trade with China in the 1830’s and 40’s. Joseph was apparently considering going to seminary but never did, instead he was educated at home and at the age of 21, he married Eliza Newton Woolsey in New York City. After a trip through Europe, the two decided on living on a country farm up the Hudson River, [...]

Hidden Mansions: Tioronda/Craig House2024-05-16T16:09:29-04:00

Hidden Mansions: Wyndclyffe

by Shannon Butler This week we will look at another house just off of the Albany Post Road corridor that is quite grand, yet needs some serious attention, Wyndclyffe. Now it is true it’s a bit of a hike from route 9 to this old brick mansion hidden in the woods of Rhinecliff, but since it lies between the river and the road, it counts. When you think of mansions, you usually think of fine architecture, large rooms, and luxurious interiors, and the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” generally comes to mind. But did you ever ponder who the Joneses were? And where that saying comes from? Did you know it was right here in the Hudson Valley? Built in 1853, this fabulous brick house is built in the style known as Norman, and looks like a castle from times gone by. Though the architect is not known, it is believed to be the work of George Veitch, who also designed the first Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Rhinebeck in 1852. It is believed that since the owner of this house, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones as well as her brother Edward were major contributors to the building of the church, [...]

Hidden Mansions: Wyndclyffe2024-05-16T16:05:21-04:00

Hidden Mansions: Maple Grove

by Shannon Butler Most of the glorious mansions that dot the Albany Post Road corridor have either been lovingly restored, or they have been torn down entirely. There are very few that stand somewhat forgotten and waiting for a new chance at life. Today we will look at a house right here in Poughkeepsie that is a hidden treasure and truly needs some loving, Maple Grove. Some of the biggest names in architecture have left their marks here in the Hudson Valley. Names like Richard Morris Hunt, McKim, Mead, and White, Andrew Jackson Downing, A. J. Davis, and Calvert Vaux, just to name a few. Maple Grove has the look and feel of the last three names mentioned, Downing, Davis, and Vaux, but sadly no one really knows who designed or built the house. However, the detail of both the exterior and interior is still (for the most part) intact from its 19th century additions and alterations and the house is an excellent example of Hudson Valley Bracketed architecture, a term coined by author Edith Wharton. Charles A. Macy purchased a farm just south of the city of Poughkeepsie in 1850. This purchase included about 35 acres of land and some [...]

Hidden Mansions: Maple Grove2024-05-16T15:43:51-04:00

Bertha M. Round – Music Lover

by Shannon Butler We know the people who read these blog posts are history lovers, but are there any music fans out there? Well, we found a music fan in the boxes of our archives. A woman who devoted her entire life to getting great talent to the stages of Poughkeepsie so that everyone could get the chance to hear the best music from all over the world. She took pride in her work and one of the perks of her job was that she was able to meet everyone who came to perform! Her name was Bertha M. Round. And she brought music to Poughkeepsie. Bertha was born in Poughkeepsie in 1879 and began singing at an early age in quartets for the Reformed Church. She joined the Choral Club where she sang as an alto. She performed with them during the 1903 season. She continued to perform in and around Poughkeepsie and received positive feedback from the press. In 1910, she performed with the 21st Regiment Band at College Hill to which the Poughkeepsie-Eagle proclaimed, “The solo work of Miss Bertha Round was a rich, musical treat.” But Bertha was not destined for glory as a singer. Her true [...]

Bertha M. Round – Music Lover2024-05-16T15:41:47-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: The Old County Court House

by Shannon Butler There is no escaping the fact that the streets of Poughkeepsie have changed over the past century, especially in the areas encircled by the arterial. Main and Market streets have lost some of their character and also gained new perspectives (for better or worse). In some cases, older buildings come back to life in the form of inspiration for newer buildings, as is the case with our focus for this week, the old County Court House. Built in 1809, the court house that we are referring to was not the first in the area. The first one was built in 1720 and would go on to host the state’s committee for ratifying the Constitution. When that building burned down in 1806, this court house on the southwest corner of Main and Market Streets was built. In the process of building a new court house, it was decided that part of the walls of the earlier building could be incorporated as well as the two dungeons in the basement. Sheriff John Forbus wrote in 1806 “the walls being uninjured will be fully competent to rebuild upon. This will save the county at least from five to six thousand dollars.” [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: The Old County Court House2024-05-16T15:41:12-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: Riverview Military Academy

by Shannon Butler Today as we continue our look at buildings of Poughkeepsie that are now gone, we will take a look at one of the schools that was established as a result of the demise of the school at college hill. As you may recall, last week we mentioned the Riverview Military Academy briefly, as it was one of two schools that popped up after the closure of Charles Bartlett’s Poughkeepsie Collegiate School. Otis Bisbee, once a teacher at the Collegiate decided in 1867 to begin a school that would give an excellent education, grounded in military tradition. A Riverview Academy booklet from 1888 suggests that this institution was always a part of the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School and that Charles Bartlett was in charge from 1836 until 1857. It makes no mention of the split between Otis Bisbee and Charles B. Warring (who went off to establish his own military school on Smith Street). Since Bisbee could not manage to win the property at College Hill at auction in the 1860s, he purchased and began constructing a new school just west of Eastman Park. On a spring day in 1867, the entire school marched from the College Hill campus to [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: Riverview Military Academy2024-05-16T15:34:40-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone but not Forgotten: Poughkeepsie Collegiate School

by Shannon Butler This week we continue our look at buildings that are no longer standing with a focus on the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School. As mentioned in previous blog entries, Poughkeepsie had become famous for its educational institutions by the turn of the 20th century.  With schools like Eastman, Vassar, and several excellent parochial schools, it was a popular place to come for a great education. But even before that time, a scenic hillside right here in Poughkeepsie was seen as the perfect place to inspire young minds. In 1835 a group of men strolled up the hillside that overlooked the city of Poughkeepsie. During their walk it was recommended by Mr. Charles Bartlett, a teacher who had once operated a school in Fishkill that this location would be the perfect spot for a school. The group of men which included N.P. Tallmadge, John Delafield, and Jacob Van Benthuysen, decided that they would purchase the spot as long as Bartlett would agree to serve as the Principle. Not long after, the grounds were purchased for $12,000 and the construction of the school began in 1835. It was modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, only 35 feet by 115 ft. The colonnade [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone but not Forgotten: Poughkeepsie Collegiate School2024-05-16T15:32:54-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: Lindmark’s Bookstore

by Shannon Butler This week we are continuing our focus on buildings in Poughkeepsie that are gone but not forgotten, in other words, there is proof of their existence here in our Local History Collections. Today we want to share with you the sad story of the demise of a bookstore, along with a large portion its books. Anytime you hear of a book-burning, what usually follows is a cringe of the body and an overall sadness. The value of a good collection of books can be measured in several ways, the rarity of each volume, the importance of its contents, even the noteworthiness of its previous owners. So imagine if you will, thousands of such valuable books going up in flames on the side of the road right in downtown Poughkeepsie (did you feel that cringe?). John Lindmark had discovered his love of book collecting and selling when he purchased a rare American law book for $300 and turned around to sell it for $7000! From then on, he made a business of books. He and his wife Rae moved to Poughkeepsie in 1912 and set up their first bookstore on Liberty Street. They soon outgrew it and moved to [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: Lindmark’s Bookstore2024-05-16T15:29:37-04:00

The New Year’s Tradition of the Carriers’ Address

by Shannon Butler As we make our way further along into the 21st century, we history nerds here in the Local History Department thought it would be fun to share with you an old New Year’s tradition. Even though it lasted over two centuries, it has since fallen out of fashion, but we think it’s still pretty cool. Carriers’ Addresses were a form of poetry, a sign of a New Year beginning, and a chance for a newspaper subscriber to thank the carrier for bringing them the news of the day, hopefully with a little tip included. Carriers’ addresses began in newspapers in England in the early 18th century and then naturally made their way over to the colonies and continued after the forming of the new country and government. They were printed on January 1st and in the early years they contained just a simple one page document, usually a poem and a thank you from the carriers. The poem could be written in the form of a look back at the events of the year, or it could emphasize the important work and the daily struggles of the carriers. The earliest in our collection is from 1819 and was [...]

The New Year’s Tradition of the Carriers’ Address2024-05-16T15:28:35-04:00

Christmas Cards of the Victorian Era

by Shannon Butler In our collections here in the Local History room is an interesting album of Victorian era holiday cards. Since we are in the midst of that ‘most wonderful time of the year’ we thought we would share some of the cards with you. Today, we will take a look at some Christmas cards made by Raphael Tuck and Sons. This company based just outside of London, begin its work by selling pictures and frames in 1866, by the 1880s they had offices all over the world, including one in New York City. They produced their first Christmas card in 1871, and would go on to great success in the Postcard industry by the turn of the 20th century. In 1880, Adolph Tuck (son of the founder) launched a contest offering 5,000 pounds in prizes for the best Christmas card designs. It was a great success with over 5,000 paintings being sent in for consideration. As a result, we end up with an interesting variety of cards that don’t look quite like our Christmas cards do today. The first Christmas card is said to have been designed and sold in England in 1843 by Sir. Henry Cole (ironically a [...]

Christmas Cards of the Victorian Era2024-05-16T15:25:17-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten YWCA Building, Cannon Street

by Shannon Butler This week in our Local History Blog we are continuing in a series of articles that will look at buildings that once stood in Poughkeepsie. Today we are going to take a look at the Y.W.C.A. building that once stood on Cannon Street. The building itself was used by the Y for almost 70 years before it was raised in order to make a larger parking lot, which is sad when one considers the history of its use and the work that was put into its creation. The Young Women’s Christian Association got its start back in the 1850s but the official chapter for Dutchess County was founded in 1881. That first year they held their meetings at 297 Main Street in Poughkeepsie. The following year they moved to Garden Street and had 40 members on the books. In 1889, Dr. Grace Kimball, a local doctor and missionary, was elected to serve as President which she continued to do for the next 41 years. Under her administration, the Y would grow to offer more classes for young women and better opportunities for growth. Several prominent donors would contribute to the organization at this time including William Smith (of [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten YWCA Building, Cannon Street2024-05-16T15:23:54-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: Eastman Business College and Mansion

by Shannon Butler This week in our Local History Blog we are continuing in a series of articles that will look at buildings that once stood in Poughkeepsie. Today we are going to take a look at two buildings that were located in separate parts of the city but were connected by name, the Eastman Business College and the Eastman Mansion. There are most likely very few people still living who would remember the former but the latter was still standing as late as the 1960s. Poughkeepsie was known for being the place to receive a fine education in the early 20th century. There were several schools in the area that focused on everything from liberal arts, to nursing, and in the case of the Eastman College, business. Harvey G. Eastman had been an educator all of his life. Beginning in his home county of Oneida, making his way out west in the years before the Civil War, and then coming back to New York in 1859 to begin a small business school here in Poughkeepsie. The story goes, that Eastman began with one student and rented a small room for 75 cents a week. A year later, he had more [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten: Eastman Business College and Mansion2024-05-16T15:23:09-04:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten – The Nelson House

by Shannon Butler This week in our Local History Blog we are beginning a series of articles that will look at buildings that once stood in Poughkeepsie. Some of them you may remember visiting once upon a time, others you may have only heard about. First up, we will take a look at the Nelson House that once stood on Market Street. If you happen to be walking up Market Street between the Dutchess County Probation Office and the County Offices, you will find a big parking lot and a little park with benches and interpretive signs. Here once stood the majestic Nelson House Hotel which saw much history during its nearly 200 years of service. Although, that number may be stretching the age of the hotel a bit. There was certainly a hotel at this location going back to the American Revolution. Stephen Hendrickson had an inn here during that time which saw some of our country’s early founding fathers including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Mrs. Catherine Taylor purchased the site from her brother Homer Nelson in 1861 and later built a brand new hotel on the site which she named for her distinguished brother in 1875. The hotel [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – Gone But Not Forgotten – The Nelson House2024-05-16T15:21:25-04:00

“Franksgiving”: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Messes with a Tradition

by Shannon Butler So here we are, it’s Black Friday, and we are all recovering from food coma, or our in-laws, or perhaps you are contemplating hitting the fridge for some leftovers. Well, make yourself a turkey sandwich and pull up a chair to read all about “Franksgiving.” Not familiar with the holiday? It’s not well known; in fact it didn’t last very long, only about three years. In August of 1939, our neighbor from Hyde Park and the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was enjoying his summer getaway at his family’s property in Campobello when he held a press conference. He wished to announce that he had decided to change the date of Thanksgiving beginning immediately, and the change would be permanent. When FDR informed the press of his decision, one could only imagine the looks on the faces of the journalist who listened and jotted down the President’s words and reasoning. He proclaimed that since Thanksgiving was on the 30th (there were five Thursdays in November that year) that would only leave folks with 20 days for Christmas shopping. He insisted that by moving Thanksgiving to the 23rd, shoppers would have more time to shop, [...]

“Franksgiving”: Franklin Delano Roosevelt Messes with a Tradition2024-05-16T15:19:55-04:00

Historic Houses: The Livingston Home, aka Locust Grove

by Shannon Butler Have you ever been to Locust Grove, the home of Samuel F.B. Morse? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s right here in Poughkeepsie. Don’t know who Samuel Morse is? He is responsible for inventing the telegraph and the code that is used with it, known as Morse code. “Oh yeah, that guy!” you are probably thinking that you did know about him, but did you also know that Samuel Morse was a talented artist long before he was an inventor? It’s true, and you can go see his work for free with a museum pass thanks to your library card. But did you also know that long before the Morse family lived at this estate there was another older family that called this property home? If you live in the Hudson Valley, you have certainly heard the family name of Livingston. That name is associated with at least a dozen large estates up and down the river’s edge and Locust Grove is one of them. This property originally belonged to Henry Livingston Sr. who served as the Dutchess County Clerk for 52 years (1737-1789) and also served in the Provincial Assembly (1759-1768). He owned several hundred [...]

Historic Houses: The Livingston Home, aka Locust Grove2024-05-16T15:18:13-04:00

Dutchess County Quaker Meeting Houses – The Oblong Meeting House at Quaker Hill

by Shannon Butler When one thinks of the word Quaker, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the Quaker Oats man, or the plain clothing, and silent church services? Did you know that “Quaker” is actually a nickname for the group formally known as The Religious Society of Friends? Did you know that they refer to church services as Meetings? And did you know that there are several meeting houses scattered all over Dutchess County? Here in the Local history department we have several great resources for researching Quaker history in Dutchess County. There are photographs, published stories, and even a list of Quaker burial grounds to help you locate your Quaker ancestors graves. Several of the old meeting houses in the area go back to the 18th century and have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. These old houses of worship have fascinating stories to tell. But first, let’s take a look at The Religious Society of Friends. Quaker roots begin in 17th century England where there were several other dissenting Protestant groups who made a break from the Church of England. They had a central belief that rejected formal ministry and embraced what they called “the inner [...]

Dutchess County Quaker Meeting Houses – The Oblong Meeting House at Quaker Hill2024-05-16T15:16:00-04:00

From the Latest Fashions to the Dead: The Vail Brothers Photography Studio

by Shannon Butler If your family lived in the Poughkeepsie area during the late 19th century than perhaps one of your ancestors sat for a photograph at Vail Brothers Studios at 254-256 Main Street (in other words, check those photo albums and your attics). Located here in the Local History Department are over 30 boxes containing thousands of photographic proofs made by the Vail Brothers studio during a 20 year period in the late 19th century. These images serve as an excellent example of the fashions and styles of those who could afford to have their likeness made in a time when photography had become an accepted form of art. The studio got its start in 1868 when 19 year old J. Watson Vail (1849-1922) set up shop at 254 Main St. in Poughkeepsie. His father and older brother were both businessmen in real estate and insurance but J. Watson along with his little brother Alonzo (1855-1929) took up photography instead. At first, the brothers appear to have worked separately, as Alonzo shows up in the directory as being a photographer in his own right. By 1872 J. Watson employed his little brother and soon thereafter they began to refer to [...]

From the Latest Fashions to the Dead: The Vail Brothers Photography Studio2024-05-16T15:02:56-04:00

Edward C. Smith: One of Poughkeepsie’s Finest Architects

Written by Shannon Butler, Local History Staff Poughkeepsie has an excellent collection of buildings from different eras and various forms of Architecture. Several prominent architects have made their marks here but it’s always nice to focus on someone who was born and raised in Poughkeepsie. Edward C. Smith was born on March 14, 1880 the son of George T. Smith and Mrs. Clara Buys Smith. After he studied at local schools he went on to study architecture under the chief architect for the City of Poughkeepsie, Percival Lloyd. By 1910, Smith had opened up his own office at #39 Market Street and began taking on projects. It’s amazing just how many of his buildings dot the city landscape as well as Dutchess County and while most blend in with the crowd, there are a few standouts. Some of the standard two-family homes around town represent his early works, for example #35 Corlies Avenue which he designed in 1911. That year he also added a large addition to the Poughkeepsie Foundry and Machine Co. But what really stands out is his masterpiece at 93 Hooker Avenue, which he built that same year for clothing store owner Ely Elting. This lovely Spanish Colonial [...]

Edward C. Smith: One of Poughkeepsie’s Finest Architects2024-05-16T15:00:41-04:00
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