More Long Lost Buildings of Poughkeepsie: Cedarcliff

More Long Lost Buildings of Poughkeepsie: Cedarcliff

We have mentioned in previous blog posts how Poughkeepsie has lost a lot of interesting buildings and residences over the years. When it comes to this particular long lost building, which was part of a large estate, we don’t actually have a picture of it, but we know it was there. In fact, two structures are standing nearby today that represent different eras of the estate. The estate was known as Cedarcliff, and it is easy to locate it if you know the street names of Poughkeepsie.

James Winslow was the brother of John Flack Winslow (who we talked about in a previous blog), and had ventured into the banking business with the Third National Bank of New York City. James and John were drawn to the beautiful scenery of the Poughkeepsie waterfront, and both brothers wanted to establish homes here. James was the first in 1857, when he built a home which he named “Cedarcliff” (about ten years before his brother built “Woodcliff”). The estate was bought and sold over the course of half a century and had several wealthy owners including Henry N. Curtis, the Taft Family, and the Seaman family. It appears that the Seaman family began to give away portions of their land for other uses, forever changing the Cedarcliff property. 

The estate included a main house, two gatehouses, a formal garden, and a few other outbuildings. It is believed that the gatehouses were the work of architect Andrew Jackson Downing, who was famous for the intricate and elaborate architectural style known as “Gingerbread.” One of those gatehouses is standing today on Ferris Lane. The main gatehouse (seen in Photo 3), which once stood on Route 9 across from the cemetery, is now gone. But there had been an attempt in the 1970’s to save it by a man named Benjamin West Frazier. New York State wanted to tear down the house in order to widen Route 9 in 1961. Frazier purchased the house for $101 and began taking it apart, numbering each piece with the hopes of putting it together again. Sadly he was never able to come up with the funds to do so before he died, and the house still remains in pieces and is stored in the New York State Museum.

The manor house was occupied by Mr. John F. Seaman, his wife and daughter Josephine in the first half of the 20th century. The family had been big supporters of the Y.W.C.A., it was during that time that the grounds became the site of several camps and athletic fields for the girls organization. In 1924, Mrs. Seaman and her daughter gave the bulk of the estate to the Y.W.C.A. with the exception of their house and gardens (seen in the Photo 02). A club house (seen in the Photo 03) was built in 1927 and had a pool for swim classes, while the land around it was sold off into lots.

The manor house, which we have not found a photo of, was used by the Gallaudet Home for the Deaf from 1950 until 1972, until it was determined too costly to maintain. In 1973, an ad for the sale of the home stated that the house was all brick with 17 bedrooms, a library, a chapel, and the asking price was $75,000. It was demolished not long after to make way for modern housing. If you look closely at the aerial views on the right, the manor house (circled in red) is there in the 1936 and 1970 views but is gone by 1980. The garden was only visible in 1936, while the Y.W.C.A. Club house continues to stand. 


Dutchess County Parcel Access –

Platt, Edmund. “The Eagle’s History of Poughkeepsie,” Pg 193.

Poughkeepsie Journal – 7 Nov 1950, 7 Sep 1972, 9 Dec 1973

Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 6 May 1898, 19 Jul 1874

The New York Times – 1 Apr 1976


Photo 01 – The gatehouse for Cedarcliff that once stood on Route 9, also known as the Pink House, designed by Andrew Jackson Downing. 1903. LH Collections.

Photo 02 – The original gardens of the Cedarcliff estate, 1925. LH Collections.

Photo 03 – The Y.W.C.A. Clubhouse, photographed in 1945. LH Collections.

Photo 04 – An aerial view of the Cedarcliff estate in 1936, showing the manor house, garden and Y.W.C.A. Club house.

Photo 05 – An aerial view of the Cedarcliff estate in 1970, the garden is gone.

Photo 06 – An aerial view of the Cedarcliff estate in 1980, the manor house is gone.