The Poughkeepsie Savings Bank Building
In our modern era, where we can do almost anything that needs to be done online, a trip to the bank sometimes feels like a thing of the past. Today if you need to deposit a check, you can take a picture of it with your phone. Or if you want to apply for some kind of loan, you can do that almost entirely online as well. So the idea of getting dressed up and making your way to a grand old building made of marble does have a touch of the old days to it. One of the earliest banking establishments for Poughkeepsie was none other than the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank, and though the institution itself is now a thing of the past, the grand old building is still here and is being repurposed.
Originally chartered in 1831, this bank had some of the biggest names in Poughkeepsie’s history serving on the first board of trustees, including Matthew Vassar, Thomas Tallmadge, and William Davies, just to name a few. The first president of the bank was Colonel Henry A. Livingston, not to be confused with the Henry Livingston of “Revolutionary fame,” as Edmund Platt’s “History of Poughkeepsie” incorrectly proclaims. This Livingston was born during the Revolution itself, therefore could not have done much to be famous in it. It’s not hard to see how Mr. Platt got it wrong, however; there certainly were a lot of Henry Livingstons in the area. The bank officially opened for business in 1833, in an office at #275 Main street. The first person to deposit money was David Vosbergh from Pleasant Valley (he deposited $50!). What may seem most strange to us is that the banking hours at the time were only on Saturday evenings from 4 to 8 o’clock.
By the 1850’s, the bank was doing so well that the Board decided that they needed a bigger building, and a proper fire-proof safe. A building on Market Street was purchased in 1853, and they moved again in 1872 into an even larger space, #21 and #23 Market Street. The new building was a four story structure with a cast iron facade that had been created at the West Point Foundries. The upper floors were rented out as offices and the top floor was said to be used as a public hall. As their anniversary booklet recalls, by “1910 business at the bank had quadrupled in volume,” and yet again, a newer and larger space was needed.
The architectural firm of Mowbray and Uffinger was brought in to design the new structure on Market Street. Construction began in June of 1911, and was completed the following year. This firm’s specialty was designing banks and vaults; they would create over 400 designs during the first half of the 20th century. The exterior is made of white marble and granite, with Ionic order columns and Doric pilasters to represent the Classical revival style. On the inside of the bank is a fabulous stained glass piece on the rear wall which is dedicated to the history of the Hudson Valley. The scene depicts the sailing of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon as it passes by the heights of West Point. The glass was designed by Nichola D’Ascenzo. based on a photograph taken by Tracey Dows (father of the well known local artist, Olin Dows) of Rhinebeck.
After over 160 years, the bank would go through some changes in the 1990’s, including changing its name from Poughkeepsie Savings Bank to Bank of the Hudson, and later it would merge into TD Bank. For many years, the building remained vacant, with the exception of temporarily housing the local headquarters for the Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign in 2016. Currently, the building is transforming into a school for cosmetology. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this grand old structure.
Poughkeepsie Savings Bank 100th Anniversary booklet – 1931 – 332-P LH
Poughkeepsie Savings Bank 150th Anniversary booklet – 1981 – 332-P LH
Platt, Edmund. “The Eagle’s History of Poughkeepsie”
Poughkeepsie Journal, Jan 1 1912, Sep 16 1999
01 – Photo of the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank in 1909, showing the decorations for the Hudson-Fulton Celebration – LH Collections
02 – Postcard showing the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank in the 1920s – LH Collections
03 – Postcard showing the interior of the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank in the 1920s – LH Collections
04 – An photo of the inside of the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank circa 1900 – LH Collections
05 – A photo of the stained glass inside the Poughkeepsie Savings bank building – LH Collections
06 – A calendar from 1933 with a photo of the interior of the Poughkeepsie Savings bank – LH Collections