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Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 2
Poughkeepsie’s Amazing Extraordinary History
A Year-by-Year Outline
Compiled by James Bennett
Copyright©James Bennett, 2017
The photograph of the Mid-Hudson Bridge on the cover is used by permission of
Philip Haber
Riverflow Publications
Books by James (Jim) Bennett
Author of The Poughkeepsie Mystery
(A treasure hunt story that incorporates much of the city’s history and ideas for
future economic and cultural development.)
James (Jim) Bennett is an award-winning educator and artist. Teaching calligraphy
and Italic handwriting is one of his specialties. He is the founder of the Original
Calligraphy Web Ring. He has authored numerous how-to books including
Calligraphy For Dummies and Calligraphy for Creative Kids (and Adults too!). His
most popular novels are: Secrets of the Wizard (2015), To Catch a Tiger (2015)
available on Kindle, The Year of Champions (2016), and The Poughkeepsie
Mystery (2016) also available on Kindle.
CLICK HERE to view the author’s bio and Amazon page.
Visit the author’s blog HERE
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 3
The title, Poughkeepsie’s Amazing Extraordinary History, may seem pretentious and
perhaps boastful. However, I believe when we evaluate the history of our city — especially
when we compare our history to that of other cities of similar size, ours is truthfully amazing
and extraordinary.
So what is amazing and extraordinary about Poughkeepsie’s history?
First, I would say that we are extraordinary because of the incredible number and wide
diversity of the industries that have been located here. We have had everything from a thriving
whaling industry, to dye and iron works and tool making, to farm equipment manufacturing, to
furniture and piano factories, to mills and grain products, to dairy equipment, to an elevator
company, to more than one manufacturer of ball bearings, to a car factory, to a publishing
plant, to several schools and colleges, to the largest computer company in the world.
Poughkeepsie has had an astounding number of industries.
Second, we have had a thriving arts community. We have the Bardavon, the Barrett
House, and the Poughkeepsie Arts Council. These did not pop up overnight. There’s a rich
history of flourishing arts in our city. Indeed, the visual, literary, and performing arts are alive
and well in Poughkeepsie!
Third, we have a great location with a waterfront on the Hudson River. We also have the
largest pedestrian bridge — the Walkway Over the Hudson. There is an inspiring history here as
well — a history filled with large steamboats, bustling commerce on the river, and numerous
regattas that drew large crowds.
Fourth, our history abounds in noteworthy and colorful characters and personalities. It
is fascinating to delve into the biographies of people like Edmund Platt, Frank Hasbrouck,
Harvey Eastman, the Adriance family, Andrew Jackson Davis, the Smith brothers, Lucy Salmon,
Tom Barrett, Lee Miller, Gertrude Ford, and, of course, FDR. The list seems endless.
Fifth, our history parallels the history of our country in many ways — from colonial
times, through the industrial age and into the computer age. Our city flourished when industry
boomed and then experienced decline and urban decay. Now, we are seeing a rebirth as we
move into the twenty-first century. All these events parallel what was happening throughout
The following simple outline is my effort to present the high points of our amazing
extraordinary history. I hope it will help generate discussion and pride in our community.
However, the outline is by no means detailed or complete. If you notice an error or believe that
I have omitted something important, I apologize. Please contact me.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 4
I present this outline of the history of Poughkeepsie because I believe we should be
mindful of our heritage which is one of our greatest strengths going forward.
James Bennett
Poughkeepsie, NY
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 5
The Colonial Period 1600s – 1800
1609 – Henry Hudson sailed up the river that would eventually bear his name. This was the
beginning of European exploration of the area which at the time was sparsely populated
by Native Americans.
1682 – The tract of land where Poughkeepsie is now located was purchased from the
Wappinger Indians in 1686 by Robert Sanders, an Englishman, and Myndert Harmense,
a New Netherland-born Dutchman. The first settlers were the families of Barent Baltus
Van Kleeck and Hendrick Jans van Oosterom. Local Indians and patentees Sanders and
Harmense signed an accord about the settlement. The brother-in-law of Sanders was
the Dutchman Van Kleeck.
Around 1690 – Sanders built a home on his land. About the same time, Myndert Harmense and
Johnnnes Van Kleeck discovered the spring that gave Poughkeepsie its name – U-pukuipi-sing, meaning "the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place." It was a rest stop
along the Indian trail and is near today's Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. (In 1939 Gerald
Foster painted a mural of the imagined scene in the Poughkeepsie Post Office.)
1699 – Sanders built a saw mill adjoining the Fall Kill Creek which was the source of its power.
1702 – Baltus Barents Van Kleeck built a 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.
About 1716 – the congregation of the Reformed Dutch Church began with the Van Kleeck
family members.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 6
1717 – A courthouse was built – the first of five located on the same site.
1755 – Martin Hoffman built a new mill on the Fall Kill. A year later he had a dock built at the
mouth of the creek.
1767 – 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
1776 – The landing near the Fall Kill was used as a supply depot for the Continental Army during
the Revolutionary War.
1777 – The state capital of New York, Kingston, was occupied and burned by the British. Spared
from battle during the American Revolution, Poughkeepsie became the NY temporary
Ferries began to operate regularly on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie.
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
1785 – Fire destroyed the second courthouse.
The Poughkeepsie Journal began publication. Over the years, the name of the
newspaper changed several times. Since 1982 it has reclaimed the original name.
1788 – The third courthouse was in place for the New York State Ratification Convention. Antifederalist George Clinton agreed with Federalist Alexander Hamilton to a compromise
that included a Bill of Rights. In 1788, the Ratification Convention for New York State,
which included Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and George Clinton, assembled at the
courthouse on Market Street, debated, and ratified the United States Constitution. Their
debates helped create the Bill of Rights. With its ratification, New York entered the new
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 7
union as the eleventh of the original thirteen colonies to join together as the United
States of America.
Gov. George Clinton possibly had an office in the Clear Everitt house. (It is now the
headquarters of the Dutchess County Historical Society.)
1789 – The Hoffman house (83 N. Water Street) was built.
1792 – Matthew Vassar born in England. At age 4 (1796), he emigrated with his family from
England to New York.
1799 – The village was incorporated. A new seal was created for Poughkeepsie.
During the late 18th century, the Filkintown Road was constructed. It 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.)
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 8
The Early 1800s
1800 – James Reynolds began a weekly freight and passenger sloop business that ran from the
Upper Landing in Poughkeepsie to New York City.
1801 — The Vassar family started a brewery.
1805 – The First Methodist Episcopal Church was erected on Jefferson Street.
1806 – Fire destroyed the third courthouse. It was demolished in 1809.
1809 – Henry Livingston Jr. gave land from his estate for a road, now Route 9. He and his wife
planted a number of black locust trees that gave the Locust Grove estate its name. (S. F.
B. Morse bought Locust Grove in 1847.)
1810 – James Reynolds built a house near the Hoffman House bought by Aaron Innis, Reynolds’
business partner. Their business expanded.
1811 — Fire destroyed the Vassar Brewery building. Matthew Vassar (age 19) took over
management, rebuilt, and expanded. He made a fortune.
During the War of 1812, the woolen factories of George Booth got a big boost due to the
embargo on foreign goods.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 9
1818 – Reynolds and Innis bought the Hoffmann Mill. They expanded the services offered: a
store and milling and grain transport.
1825 – The Innis Dye Works factory opened. Aaron Innis was the original owner. In 1838 he
transferred ownership of the business to his son, George Innis, who later became a
three-term mayor of the city. Innis Avenue is named for him.
1828 – The D & H Canal opened bringing coal from Pennsylvania down the Hudson to the docks
at the upper landing.
1831 – The Village Hall and Market was built; it became the city hall. Eastern House hotel was
The original Poughkeepsie Almshouse (poor house) was built at 20 Maple St. (Route 44/55). In
1844, American activist Dorothea Dix visited the Poughkeepsie Almshouse as part of a statewide
tour of New York poorhouses to evaluate the treatment of the insane. (Dix was responsible for
championing the creation of the nation's first mental asylums.) The Poughkeepsie facility
received high grades and by 1851 about 400 residents were being cared for on the property.
1830s – Miss Lydia Booth, step-niece of Matthew Vassar, ran the Cottage Hill Seminary on
Garden Street. Matthew Vassar was so inspired by her success, he began considering
creating a women's college.
1830s - 40s – The Poughkeepsie Whaling Company and the Dutchess Whaling Company were
successful businesses along the riverfront. The processing of whale blubber created a
foul odor that wafted over the area.
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. (It continued until the late 1860s when George Morgan purchased the
Greek Parthenon style building and converted it into a hotel.) In 1917 it was destroyed
by fire.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 10
About this time the Greek Revival style Vassar Street church (corner of Mill Street) was
built by dissenting Presbyterians.
A city reservoir was constructed on Cannon Street hill. The site is now Reservoir Square.
1837 – The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was organized. It continues today.
St. Peter's Catholic Church and Rectory were built. European immigrants were welcome.
1841 – A survey found that a quarter of Poughkeepsie's children received no formal education.
1842 – The whaling businesses ended in Poughkeepsie.
By 1845 – European Jews had moved into the Riverside neighborhoods. Five German Jews
formed the Congregation Children of Israel.
1847 – Construction began on the first Smith Brothers factory, famous for cough drops, on
Church Street.
Inventor of the telegraph, S.F.B. Morse bought the Henry Livingston estate, Locust
Grove. Alexander Jackson Davis remodeled the house and Andrew Jackson Downing
designed the landscape.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 11
1848 – The name of the Congregation Children of Israel was changed to Congregation Brethren
of Israel. (at the time, Vassar Temple was the only synagogue between New York City
and Albany.)
Late 1840s, a small dry goods store was established by Isaac Dribble and Robert Slee. As a boy,
Charles P. Luckey was hired by the store. He later became one of the owners.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 12
Mid to Late 1800s – Becoming the “Queen City of the Hudson”
1850 – The Poughkeepsie Iron Works was built.
1852 – Before his death, Matthew Vassar contracted the famous architect, Andrew Jackson
Downing to finish a number of structures for Vassar's Springside estate. Since there was
no 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
1853 – The German-American community built the Nativity church on Union Street. Later, they
added a school.
Eastern House Hotel burned down.
The Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery was dedicated. Matthew Vassar had plans 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 became a city (chartered 28 March 1854).
1859 – Harvey Gridley Eastman, cousin of George Eastman of Eastman Kodak fame, arrived in
Poughkeepsie and started the Eastman Business College which would become the
largest business college in the nation. Its main building was located on Washington
Street (now Columbus Drive) near Mill Street. He was mayor from 1871 to 1874, and
again from 1877 until his untimely death in 1878.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 13
Eastman proposed a railroad bridge crossing the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie which
wasn’t built until 1888. The bridge is now the Walkway Over the Hudson.
The Sears, Adriance, Platt & Co. (manufacturers of farm equipment and mowers)
relocated from Worcester, Massachusetts to Poughkeepsie.
1859 – The Washington Street Methodist Church was built at the southeast corner of Mill and
Washington Streets. In 1964 the congregation sold the building and relocated outside
the city on New Hackensack Road. The building was torn down as part of urban renewal.
The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel now stands on the location.
1860 – The Brinckerhoff House on South Hamilton Street was built. It resembled a riverboat
and was the home of Captain John J. Brinckerhoff, captain of the steamer Mary Powell.
1861 – Vassar Female College was founded. Matthew Vassar established the college on land he
owned that was then east of Poughkeepsie. The Second Empire style "Main" building
was designed by James Renwick Jr.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 14
1865 – The decades following the end of the American Civil War, was a time of economic boom
for Poughkeepsie.
1867-68 – The Hudson River State Hospital was built on the former James Roosevelt estate. The
main building (the Kirkbride Building) was designed by Thomas Story Kirkbride, a
nineteenth century leader in the treatment of mental illness.
1868 – While delivering a farewell address to the Vassar College Board of Trustees, Matthew
Vassar collapsed and died.
The original Poughkeepsie Almshouse building at 20 Maple Street burned down and the
city acted quickly to erect the present structure to replace it. Reflective of the city's
prosperity as well as the growing concern for social ills that was prevalent; the new
building was considered to be an outstanding example of 19th-century industrial
architecture. It opened in 1869. Today it is the Maplewood complex.
Late 1860s – George Morgan, a mayor of the city of Poughkeepsie, established the College Hill
Hotel on College Hill. He had a lake (Morgan Lake) constructed on the east side of
College Hill.
1869 – The Collingwood Opera House (later renamed the Bardavon 1869 Opera House) opened.
The theater building was designed by local architect J. A. Wood for its owner James
Collingwood, a wealthy coal and lumber merchant.
The Slee Brothers dry goods store on Main Street became the Luckey and Platt store.
1870 – On Independence Day, the Soldiers' Fountain near Eastman Park was dedicated.
Jonathan Warner purchased the Dutchess Academy for the Vassar Warner Old Ladies
Home to care for elderly Protestant ladies.
The First modern store building was built – George Van Kleeck & Co., 504 Main Street.
A new reservoir was constructed on the north side of College Hill. College Hill became a
popular picnicking spot.
During this time there were several private schools operating in the city of
Poughkeepsie including Poughkeepsie Female Academy, Riverview Military Academy, Glen
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 15
Eden School, The Collegiate School, Lyndon Hall School, Putnam Hall School, and Eastman
National Business College. These were in addition to the public schools.
About 1871 – The old Poughkeepsie High School located at the corner of Washington (now
Columbus) and Main Streets was built.
1872 – Reynolds & Company constructed a large brick warehouse opposite the train station on
Main Street. This structure survives today and is called Dooley Square.
The Luckey and Platt store became Luckey, Platt and Company. (William De Garmo
Smith became a partner.)
The College Hill Reservoir was built on College Hill. It became a popular picnic site.
1873 – The Amrita Club was founded for local businessmen and professionals, with future
neighbor and prominent local lawyer Frank Hasbrouck as one of the charter members.
They met in rented rooms until 1912 when they moved into their own building. The club
excluded Catholics, African-Americans and Jews, and soon became synonymous with
the city's elite. In 1905, local historian Edmund Platt described it as "the first club of any
importance." "Much of Poughkeepsie's growth was decided at the Amrita Club's dinner
table," an another author wrote.
1874 – The Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory opened. They first manufactured shirts.
1875 – Danish immigrant Edward Bech (owner of the Poughkeepsie Iron Works) hired Danish
architect Detlef Lienau to design the construction of the Bech Villa (Rosenlund, now
Marist College). Bech owned the Poughkeepsie Iron Company and Falkill Iron Works.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 16
1876 – The Nelson House hotel on Market Street opened. It had been known previously as the
Forbus House (built in 1815) until Judge Homer A. Nelson bought it, had it torn down
and rebuilt. The hotels hosted notable dignitaries including Thomas Jefferson, James
Madison, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de LaFayette, President Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s staff, and a variety of artists and musicians who performed at the historical
1869 Bardavon Opera House. It was demolished in 2012.
1880s – The Arnold Chair Company was manufacturing a whole catalog of chair styles. It closed
in 1935.
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 nearby. (It now
houses the Cunneen-Hackett Cultural Center.)
1880 – 1890s – Local architect, Arnout Cannon, designed a number of commercial buildings and
homes in Poughkeepsie. He redesigned the Wildestein Estate in Rhinebeck. The Italian
Center, the Masonic Temple, and the elegant Adriance - Smith mansion on Academy
Street are three of his noteworthy designs that are still standing.
1882 – Mathew Vassar Jr. left money for a hospital.
1882 - 1920 – John C. Sickley, who served during WWI, was the city library director.
1882 - 1885 – The Poughkeepsie Glass Company was a successful business.
1884 – The first electric street lights were installed in Poughkeepsie.
The main building of the Vassar Brothers' Hospital was 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
1888 – Christ Church moved to Academy Street (where it still is) making room for the 1891
Construction of the railroad bridge over the Hudson began.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 17
A number of Italian immigrants settled in Poughkeepsie mainly to work on the Central
New England Railroad.
1889 – The Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge was completed. The bridge was designed by
architects, Charles Macdonald and Arthur B. Paine. The bridge is now the Walkway Over
the Hudson, the longest pedestrian walkway in the world.
1891 – The Armory building was erected at the corner of Market and Church Streets.
Edmund Platt began editing and publishing the Poughkeepsie Eagle (the renamed
Poughkeepse Journal). He was also a member of the board of water commissioners of
Poughkeepsie and was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-third and to the three
succeeding Congresses. He held office from March 4, 1913 to June 7, 1920, when he
resigned to accept appointment by President Woodrow Wilson to the Federal Reserve
1892 – The Trinity ME Church was built. In the 1980s the congregation merged with the church
located on New Hackensack Road.
W. W. Smith purchased property on College Hill and gave it to the city for a public park.
The De Laval Cream Separator Co. factory opened. It became the area's largest
employer for a several generations.
1893 – Noted poet, essayist, and historian, Wallace Bruce, bought a weekend home in
1894 – The trolley system was converted to electricity.
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 was completed. (John C. Sickley,
city library director, oversaw every construction detail.) The name of the library honored
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 18
John P. Adriance, a local industrialist, and his family. The Adriance family is still involved
in the administration of the library.
About 1900 – Governor Theodore Roosevelt declared the Governor Clinton office house an
historic site.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the European immigrants coming into Poughkeepsie
usually settled in the neighborhoods nearest the river.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 19
The First Half of the Twentieth Century
In the early 1900s, there were a significant number of factories in Poughkeepsie that provided
good jobs.
Around 1900 – The Smith Brothers Candy Store and their restaurant – both on Market Street
were popular places.
1901 – The Young family purchased Locust Grove (former home of Samuel F. B. Morse) near the
golf course. They 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-style courthouse designed by William Beardsley was completed. (It’s the
courthouse that stands today.)
1904 – The original Luckey-Platt store had expanded into a five-story building.
Fitchett Brothers Cross Road Farms dairy business was started.
1905 – Edmund Platt published his Eagle’s History of Poughkeepsie.
1905 – Construction was started on the Ebenezer Baptist Church near Clinton Square.
The Marist brothers acquired the Edward Bech estate. It became St. Ann's Hermitage.
1909 – Fiat built an automobile manufacturing plant on the site where Mid-Hudson Plaza
(across from Marist College) is today.
The YMCA moved into a new building at 59 Market Street. Sixty years later they moved
to Eastman Park and closed shortly thereafter.
1911 – The AME Zion Church was built. It was designed by DuBois Carpenter.
Mrs. Nettie Bowne built the Bowne Memorial Hospital for tuberculosis patients in
memory of her husband, Samuel Bowne. (Today it is the administration building of the
Dutchess Community College.)
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 20
1912 – The Amrita Cub building at the corner of Church and Market Streets was built.
The Robert Sanford house at 29 North Hamilton Street was torn down to build the
Poughkeepsie High School. In the 1950s, after a newer high school opened on Forbus
Street, the building on Hamilton became Our Lady of Lourdes High School. It is now the
Poughkeepsie Family Partnership Center.
1913 – After Innis Dye Works closed, the Schmidt Piano Hammer Factory moved into the
building. The piano factory closed in 1934.
1914 – The Dutchess County Historical Society was established.
The Smith Brothers cough drop factory moved to a greatly expanded facility on North
Hamilton Street. Today the County Jail is on the site.
1915-1946 – Henry Noble MacCracken was president of Vassar College.
1917 – A spectacular fire devastated the Collegiate Hill School/Hotel Building on College Hill.
The fire department could not pump water to the top of the hill. The school building was
replaced by the Guilford Dudley Memorial – a small scale version of the Parthenon.
Dudley was a wealthy industrialist who bequeathed money to build a memorial to the
school that had existed on the spot.
1918 – The Poughkeepsie Railroad Station opened . It was designed by Warren and Wetmore,
who also were the architects for Grand Central Terminal.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 21
1920 – The original Luckey-Platt store was torn down in 1920 in order to build a new, larger and
more modern store which opened four years later.
1920s – The Nelson House Inn (with roots back to 1777) was a popular hotel and meeting place.
It was close to the courthouse and across the street from the Bardavon.
The Pomfret House Hotel and Arcade was located at the intersection of Main and
The Riverview Military Academy closed and Lincoln Center took it over in order to
present neighborhood services and programs. The school was located where the Lincoln
Park soccer field is today.
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
The children's room was opened at Adriance Memorial Library.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 22
1924 – The new Luckey-Platt Department Store opened. For years, it was “the place” for
everyone in the mid-Hudson valley to shop.
1925-1930 – The FDR Mid-Hudson Bridge was being built.
1929 – The Marist Normal Training School, in conjunction with Fordham University, granted
B.A. degrees.
1930 – The Mid-Hudson Bridge was dedicated by local resident, at the time New York State
Governor, and future U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His wife Eleanor was also
1930 – Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated a statue of Irishman Thomas Dongan,
Provincial Governor of New York from 1683 to1687, at the intersection of Delafield and
Mill Streets (in Dongan Park adjacent to Dongan Place.)
1931 – Eastman Business College, at one time the oldest and largest school of business in the
U.S., closed because of declining enrollment. The building was demolished in the 1960s
as part of urban renewal.
1932 – The Polish-American Citizens' Hall was built at 19 North Bridge Street.
1933 – College Hill Golf Course opened.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 23
1933 – 1937 – George V.L. Spratt, local attorney, served as mayor of the city. Spratt Park was
named after him.
1934 – Poughkeepsie Day School for young children was founded (originally on the Vassar
College campus.)
Western Publishing moved into the old Fiat factory building
1935 – Trolley service ended.
1937 – The WPA built a miniature Parthenon memorial on the top of College Hill and presented
it to the city.
1937 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the new post office building.
The Woodcliff Pleasure Park had become the city's principle playground.
College Hill had greenhouses and a beautiful rock garden designed in 1931 by Clarence
1938 – Poughkeepsie native and out-of-work architect, Alfred Mosher Butts invented Scrabble.
1939 – The abandoned Moline (formerly Adriance & Platt) factory buildings were razed in a
spectacular fire.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 24
Jane Bolin, a native of Poughkeepsie and the first black woman to graduate from Yale
Law School, became the first black female judge in the United States.
1940 – Marian Anderson performed at the auditorium of Poughkeepsie High School.
The Violet Avenue School in Hyde Park was opened. It reflected the American Colonial
Revival architectural ideas of Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the early 1940s, once the Mid-Hudson Bridge was opened for traffic, ferries across the
Hudson from Poughkeepsie to Highland disappeared.
From 1941 and into the 1990s IBM became the dominant economic force in Dutchess County.
1943 – Fitchett Brothers' Dairy opened a new processing plant. (The business continued until
1944 – The magnificent Windsor Hotel (on the corner of Main and Academy across from
Luckey-Platt) was destroyed by fire. The outside temperature was so cold that the
firefighters’ unsuccessful efforts to hose down the flames resulted in icicles that covered
the entire building.
The Dudley Memorial on College Hill burned. It was later rebuilt.
1946 – Marian College became a four-year college. In 1960, it was renamed Marist College with
an enrollment of 250 students.
1947 – Sarah Gibson Blanding became the first woman president of Vassar.
During the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the increased traffic could not flow through
Poughkeepsie without encountering major delays.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 25
The Second Half of the Twentieth Century
1950 – Eleanor Roosevelt narrated Peter and the Wolf at the Bardavon. A recording is on
1955 – Smith Street flooded.
1957 – Charles and Margaret Dyson founded the Dyson Foundation, a philanthropic
organization that has awarded millions of dollars to the development of Poughkeepsie’s
riverfront area.
1958 – The Poughkeepsie Plaza on South Road, Poughkeepsie’s first shopping center, opened.
1960s – Marlon Brando played at the Hyde Park Playhouse and would frequent Happy Jack's
Bar on North Bridge Street.
The Vassar Brothers Institute (given to the city by Matthew Vassar Jr. and John Guy
Vassar) was renovated to serve as a place for art exhibits, concerts and theatrical
Urban Renewal money poured into Poughkeepsie. The arterials were constructed, and
several older commercial buildings and residential homes were torn down.
1964 – July 8 was designated IBM Day. Former President Eisenhower spoke at the ceremonies,
saluting IBM as a “great company.”
A strong arts coalition was formed in Poughkeepsie.
1966 – G. Gordon Liddy who had been an attorney with the FBI was hired by Dutchess County
District Attorney Raymond Baratta as an assistant DA. That same year, under the
direction of Sheriff Larry Quinlan, Liddy led a drug raid on the Milbrook estate, Castalia,
of LSD guru Timothy Leary. It resulted in an unsuccessful prosecution. Liddy later
became nationally famous for orchestrating the Watergate break-in.
1967 – De Laval closed its upper landing factory.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 26
1968 – Matthew Vassar's Springside estate was threatened by condominium development.
Activists saved the area while allowing some condominiums.
The Rip Van Winkle House was opened. It was hoped that mixed income housing would
help "phase out poverty and unwanted misery." However, it came to be occupied by
lower income tenants only.
1969 – The YMCA relocated to a new building in Eastman Park.
1970 – Dutchess Plaza Shopping Center on Route 9 opened.
1972 – Smith Brothers Cough Drop factory closed.
During the 1970s there was a public campaign to save the Bardavon Theater from demolition.
There were plans to raze the building and use the site as a parking lot. In 1977
concerned citizens were successful in getting it placed on the National Registry of
Historical Places. It was renamed The Bardavon 1869 Opera House.
1971 – The Union Street area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 27
1973 – A section of Middle Main was closed to vehicular traffic so the area could become a
pedestrian shopping plaza. It was named “Main Mall” and was dedicated. Rather than
attracting shoppers to the area, it had the opposite effect. Many businesses closed
because of the loss of customers. In 2001 the street was reopened to vehicular traffic.
1974 – A fire had damaged the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, and it was no longer used.
1975 – The city civic center was opened.
Bowdoin Park was created. The park land had been river estates, and later, the
Children's Aid Society's summer camp. Today it is a picturesque 301 acre park located
on the banks of the Hudson River, off Sheafe Road, in the Town of Poughkeepsie
The Wallace Company Department Store closed. Shopping centers were taking the place
of department stores. Downtown was losing its monopoly on shopping.
1980s – The sloop Clearwater, financed by Pete Seeger, sailed the Hudson and began
environmental studies.
Western Publishing closed. The building was demolished and the site was turned into a
shopping center.
1982 – The Maybrook Line freight service between Poughkeepsie and Hopewell Junction was
The Maplewood property was converted into Maplewood Apartments, an 85-unit
assisted living facility. In 1992, following a seven-year renovation project, the Mill Street
Loft arts facility moved into the former carriage house/barn.
1983 – Metro-North railway service to Poughkeepsie began.
During the 1990s IBM made a series of dramatic moves to downsize. Jobs were lost. People
moved away. This caused a serious downward slide in the Dutchess County economy.
1998 – Kendall Francois was arrested. From 1996 until his arrest he had murdered eight
prostitutes. He was convicted and sent to prison where he died in 2014.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 28
2001 – A programmable, multi-color LED lighting system was installed on the FDR Mid-Hudson
Following a plan for revitalization started by Mayor Colette Lafuente, the Main Mall was
reopened to vehicular traffic. With the removal of the pedestrian mall, downtown
Poughkeepsie began its recovery and is now attracting new businesses, stores,
restaurants and galleries.
2002 – The Children's Museum moved to its current home at 75 North Water Street. The
building is an historic mid-19th century industrial brick building that was formerly part
of Innis Dye Works.
2007 – Adriance Memorial Library closed its main building temporarily in order to perform a
major renovation project.
2009 – Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened to the public. It spurred
development and an uptick in retail business.
On the 112th anniversary of the original opening, Adriance Memorial Library celebrated its
Grand Re-Opening. The beautiful, new addition to the building more than doubled the space.
2012 – The Nelson House hotel was demolished.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 29
2013 – The Dyson Foundation opened Upper Landing Park to the public. The following is quoted
from the Dyson Foundation website: “The Foundation envisions the Upper Landing Park
as a vibrant new public amenity for both visitors and locals. With meandering foot paths
dotted with shade trees, picnic tables, and benches, it offers a place where people can
come to stroll or picnic along the Fall Kill Creek and the majestic Hudson River.
2016 – James Bennett wrote and published The Poughkeepsie Mystery, A treasure hunt story
that incorporates much of the city’s history and ideas for future economic and cultural
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 30
Read a selection from The Poughkeepsie Mystery…
1:06 A.M. Sunday, May 15th, Kari Ingram awoke to the sound of footsteps downstairs in her
dining room.
The floorboards in her old house creaked loudly. “Best burglar alarm you can have,” her real
estate agent had commented when he first showed Kari through the house.
She held her breath and listened carefully.
Perhaps I’m only imagining things. Old houses do make noises.
Again she heard the creaking noise. Definitely footsteps. And near the bottom of the stairs too!
Something else made her shudder—muted but unmistakable—voices whispering.
There’s more than one intruder!
Concerns for her safety flashed through her mind. She recalled reports that two local girls in their
twenties had disappeared recently without a clue. Abducted from their homes during the night.
Kari slid out of bed silently. She slowly opened her nightstand drawer and felt around inside,
retrieving the 38 caliber pistol her dad had given her. “For protection—a young girl living alone
can’t be too careful.”
Her father had taken her to a target range where he’d taught her how to shoot. She dreaded the
fact she might have to use it for real tonight.
The gun was loaded. She flipped the safety off.
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 31
Tip-toeing from her bedroom, she stopped at the top of the stairs and listened.
Although she was short—barely five-three, she worked out regularly and was considerably
stronger than her size or youthful appearance might have indicated. She had a well-earned reputation
among family and friends for being more than capable of standing her ground in just about any kind
of contest—physical or mental. Her parents had often referred to her as their “mighty mite.”
Kari peered down the stairs and jumped back when she glimpsed the beam of a flashlight moving
around and periodically illuminating the downstairs landing.
Who could it be? Maybe Mom and Dad drove up late to see me.
“Mom, Dad, is that you?”
No answer.
Louder. “Dad, are you there?”
There was a click, and the flashlight went dark. There was silence.
Kari could feel her heart pounding—from her chest up into her throat. Her hands began to
Quick. Get my cell phone. Call 911.
She turned and sprinted back to her bedroom. The boards creaked when her feet pounded the
floor as she ran.
She heard the heavy footsteps of someone charging up the stairs—two and three steps at a time.
Why didn’t I call the police first thing when I woke up?
She had just stepped past the threshold into her bedroom when someone who towered over her,
grabbed her from behind. Powerful fingers wrapped around the wrist and thumb of her hand
holding the gun. The assailant was trying to shake the weapon loose from her grip.
She pulled the trigger, firing a shot through the ceiling. The gun dropped from her hand and hit
the floor.
The attacker swung Kari’s right arm across her chest and held her painfully tight. He lifted her so
her feet could not reach the floor.
His left hand was across her mouth, squeezing hard. He smashed her lips against her teeth. She
tasted blood.
Kari squirmed to break free. With her left hand, she tried with all her strength to pry the hand
from her mouth.
Maybe a neighbor will hear me if I could just yell for help. Damn this guy is strong!
Her efforts were useless.
“OK, bitch. If you promise you won’t scream, you won’t get hurt. Understand?”
Although the man held his hand unyielding across her mouth, Kari did her best to nod her head.
“Where’s the book?” the man asked as he lowered his hand allowing her to speak. He continued
to hold her motionless with his right arm wrapped around her. His left hand now grabbed her
ponytail and pulled her head back.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. What book?” Kari gasped, hardly able to breathe.
“You know very well what book.” He squeezed her harder. “That old book with the drawings of
places in Poughkeepsie. The one you were showing around at Adriance library.”
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 32
That book—the photo album. My only chance is to tell him the truth. Then maybe I’ll be able to break free.
“I don’t have it. I - loaned it - gave it to my friend. Please - don’t squeeze - me - so …”
She couldn’t breathe. It felt like the man could break her ribs.
Kari heard the footsteps of a second person approaching from behind. There was the beam of a
flashlight scanning the room.
“She won’t tell me where it is,” the assailant said. There was anger in his voice.
As the beam of light moved around and illuminated the bedroom, the doorbell rang, and there
was loud banging on the front door.
Thank God. Maybe Todd has come to rescue me.
“We need to get out of here,” the second person said. It was a woman’s voice.
Just as the woman spoke, Kari’s ring tone, People Who Need People, blared from her cell phone that
was sitting on her nightstand. How apropos, Kari thought. I need people—anyone—someone.
The man released his grip—Kari was surprised—and in one motion he scooped up the gun from
the floor.
As Kari bolted forward, now freed from the man’s grasp, she felt something incredibly hard
strike the back of the head.
Her legs buckled. A flash of bright lights like fireworks coupled with a loud roar like crashing
waves exploded inside her brain. She lost consciousness and flopped to the floor like a rag doll.
Order the book at PoughkeepsieMystery.Com
Riverflow Publications
Books by James (Jim) Bennett
Author of The Poughkeepsie Mystery
(A treasure hunt story that incorporates much of the city’s history and ideas for
future economic and cultural development. There are discount coupons in
the back of the book to Poughkeepsie businesses.)
Poughkeepsie's Amazing Extraordinary History -- 33
James (Jim) Bennett is an award-winning educator and artist. Teaching calligraphy
and Italic handwriting is one of his specialties. He is the founder of the Original
Calligraphy Web Ring. He has authored numerous how-to books including
Calligraphy For Dummies and Calligraphy for Creative Kids (and Adults too!). His
most popular novels are: Secrets of the Wizard (2015), To Catch a Tiger (2015)
available on Kindle, The Year of Champions (2016), and The Poughkeepsie
Mystery (2016) also available on Kindle.
CLICK HERE to view the author’s bio and Amazon page.