Historic Locations in the Greater Poughkeepsie Area
Situated halfway between New York’s capital, Albany, and biggest metropolis, NYC, Poughkeepsie has a tendency to get overlooked. Through no fault of its own, its reputation has diminished beneath the lure of the Big Apple — but us locals know the true beauty of a city that’s surrounded by nature and gorgeous foliage, as well as history and serenity (with the added perks of less crowds year round!).
Some of us have called Poughkeepsie home for years and some of us are just passing through, but either way, we all appreciate the landscape, the culture, and the history that makes Poughkeepsie all that it is today. While there are a fair amount of historically recognized buildings and locations around the area, here are a few of our Groundhog favorites—
Dutchess County Courthouse — 10 Market Street
You might have noticed this building as you’ve driven or walked through the city of Poughkeepsie, but at first glance it’s easy to ignore or miss the historical significance of it. In 1788, the New York Ratifying Convention spent 6 weeks in the original courthouse building debating whether or not to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. Proponents for its ratification included Alexander Hamilton, who ultimately swayed the largely anti-federalist majority to change their minds and vote to ratify it on July 26 in a 30–27 close call. The original building has since burned down, but the current courthouse stands in the same spot and is marked by plaques commemorating its important role in history. Click here for more information.
Poughkeepsie Railroad Station — 41 Main Street
Originally constructed in 1918 in the same style as Grand Central Terminal in New York City, this rail station not only services local commuters, but it also has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Its long-standing and original architecture, including various chandeliers and beautiful arched windows, make this a rail station I actually enjoy waiting around in. See here for more information.
Palen-Platt House — 55 Overlook Road (Arlington)
This house, below the radar as it is, was not only home to one of the members of the NY Ratifying Convention in the 1700s — Zephaniah Platt — but it also served as a hiding spot for runaway slaves utilizing the Underground Railroad to ultimately reach liberation in the 1800s. To read more, visit here.
Locust Grove Estate — 2683 South Road
Known predominantly for being the summer home to Samuel Morse and his family starting in the 1850s, this estate has an exhibit dedicated to Morse’s two professions — artist and inventor — and also an extensive collection of furniture and art from its 20th century owners, the Youngs. Though we’re long past it now in terms of communication, the telegraph and Morse Code were two of Samuel Morse’s most important contributions that paved the way for an era of technological advancement and invention. Read more about the estate and all it has to offer here.
Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site — 4097 Albany Post Road (Hyde Park)
Arguably the most well-known historical site in the area, FDR’s estate, which includes the very first Presidential Library, is a must-see for all Hudson Valley history buffs. Not only is there a lot to see inside the house and library, but the view from the back is just spectacular, especially in the fall when the leaves change color over the Hudson. Check out their website for more information. Also, don’t forget to check out Eleanor Roosevelt’s own National Historic Site at Val-Kill right down the road!
Vanderbilt Mansion — 119 Vanderbilt Park Road (Hyde Park)
Another National Park Service spot, Vanderbilt not only displays the Gilded Age brilliantly through its decor and exhibits, but the grounds offer plenty of walking and running paths that weave and wind along the Hudson River — making it a great spot for both historians and nature-lovers galore. The mansion is currently undergoing renovation expected to be completed by fall of 2017, but please visit the site to learn more about this and other ongoing projects.
Other noteworthy historic locations include the Underwear Factory, Bardavon Theatre, the George Clinton House (where the Dutchess County Historical Society is conveniently headquartered), the Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge, and various buildings belonging to and associated with Vassar College.