Fishkill Village District
The Fishkill Village District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Text below was selected and adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
Located in the heart of the present village, the Fishkill Village District encompasses almost all of the village center as it existed through the 19th century. Beginning east of Cary Avenue, the Fishkill Village District essentially follows the route of New York Route 52, which corresponds to the old east-west road between New England and the Hudson River, as far as the junction with Rappalje Road. The north-south traffic pattern has been altered by the construction of U.S. Route 9, which approximates the old Post Road, so as to bypass the original crossroads to the west.
U.S. Route 9 crosses New York Route 52 (Main Street and Hopewell Avenue) between the junction of Main and Broad Streets and the junction of Main Street and Hopewell Avenue. The western portion of the Fishkill Village District is comprised of: three full blocks between Main and Broad Streets, the properties which front on Main Street from the Post Office and the Mid-Hudson Medical Group Building west of Jackson Street to U.S. Route 9, the properties which front on Broad Street from No. 51 on the northwest side of the street and from No. 54 on the southeast side to the junction with Main Street, and the properties which front on Jackson Street from the carriage house located northwest of the intersection of Jackson Street and N.Y. Route 52 to the junction of Jackson and Broad Streets. Included within this area are Bedford and Robinson Streets. The segment of the Fishkill Village District which is situated east of U.S. Route 9 contains: the properties which front on Main Street from its intersection with U.S. Route 9 to that with Hopewell Avenue, and the properties which front on Hopewell Avenue from the junction with Main Street to that with Rappalje Road.
Remodeling including the addition of "Gothic Revival" woodwork has periodically altered the appearance of several buildings and in some cases early 18th century structures appear to have been incorporated within later construction. The Fishkill Village District is distinctive, however, because it visually exhibits a significant concentration of the structures which range from the last quarter of the 18th century through the third quarter of the 19th century. Regardless of date, the architecture is consistently homogeneous in scale and integrity, and the resultant district architecturally as well as geographically constitutes a coherent entity largely uncompromised by 20th century intrusions.
The following are some of the structures within the Fishkill Village District.
Dutch Reformed Church: Originally constructed 1725-1736 as a square, stone edifice with a pyramidal roof which culminated in a spired belfry, the church was rebuilt in 1786 using portions of the original walls and foundations. A stone structure elaborated by brick quoins, the rectangular Reformed Church is two stories in height with a spired tower, added in 1820, which projects from the central bay of the east or front elevation.
Trinity Church: Constructed in 1768, Trinity Church is a rectangular, one-and-a-half-story, frame edifice covered by a gable roof which flares gently at the eaves. Notable features are a fanlight and semi-circular-headed windows. The original steeple was removed ca.1850, and the interior was restored in 1963.
104 and 109 Main Street: These two one-and-a-half story, gable-roofed, frame dwellings are representative of a group of structures built during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, primarily along the old Post Road, now Main Street.
Shillelagh: Five bays in length and two stories high, "Shillelagh" is a rectangular frame dwelling built ca.1811 by James Given, a prosperous Irish emigrant.
5 and 7 Robinson Street: Representative of several structures in the Fishkill Village District, these two frame dwellings are approximately square, one-and-a-half stories in eight, and covered by simple gable roofs. Horizontal, three-light windows on the front elevation provide light to the garret.
116 Main Street, 21 Broad Street (Temperance Hall), and Fishkill Methodist Church: These structures exhibit the influence of the Greek Revival mode. The first, a simple one-story frame dwelling, is the product of remodeling. The second, a two-story, five-by-two-bay structure is elaborated by a substantial cornice and by full-height pilasters at each corner. Erected 1838-1841, the Fishkill Methodist Church is distinctive architecturally for the four pilasters and the two columns in antis which flank the entrance.
14 and 19 Broad Street: Typical of the dwellings built ca.1845-1865 in Fishkill and found in greatest concentration on Broad Street, these two frame dwellings are composed of a two-and-a-half story, three-bay block covered by a gable roof, with a one-story wing at one side.
Town Hall: Constructed in 1857 as a bank, the Town Hall is a one-and-a-half-story rectangular brick structure with brick pilasters at each corner. The mansard roof was added at a later date.
71-81 Main Street: A fire which occurred on December 1, 1875 destroyed the wood frame commercial district on Main Street between Robinson and Church Streets. This row of two and three story brick structures illustrates the rebuilding effort which began almost immediately after the fire.
Dependencies: Several dependencies still stand within the Fishkill Village District, including two nineteenth-century carriage houses: a frame structure located at 25 Broad Street, and a brick structure north of the intersection of Main (U.S. Route 52) and Jackson Streets.
Fishkill Village was a significant crossroads in the overland transportation network in the Hudson Valley throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and during the Revolution functioned as part of a major Quartermaster-Commissary facility and encampment. Under modern pressures in rapidly developing Southern Dutchess County, the Fishkill Village District is composed of the historical village center which contains a significant concentration of visually homogeneous structures dating from the last quarter of the 18th century through the third quarter of the 19th.
In 1685 King James II of Great Britain issued a grant confirming a deed in which the Wappinger Indians conveyed the "Rombout Patent" in Southwestern Dutchess County to Francis Rombout and Gulian Verplanck. Eighteen years later the colonial government authorized the development of the Kings Highway through the Hudson Valley between Albany and New York City. Passing through southwestern Dutchess County, the Kings Highway the major north-south land Route in the state during the 18th and 19th centuries, veered east to high ground in order to avoid a swamp south of Wappingers Falls, and from there passed south through Snow Valley, the most practical and direct route through the mountainous Hudson Highlands to New York City. Breaking through the northernmost reaches of the Hudson Highlands at the Nicopee Pass in southwestern Dutchess County, the VisKil flows southwesterly to the Hudson River by skirting the foot of the mountains and separating them from the hilly region in the northwest. The break in the mountains made possible an overland route from New England to the mouth of the VisKil and across the River to regions West and South. At the crossing of these two routes within the Rombout Patent there developed the village of Fishkill, five miles up the VisKil from Fishkill Landing on the Hudson.
When the Revolution began, Fishkill's location became significant in a military context. According to the Marquis de Chastellux, writing in 1780:
"As for the position of Fishkill, the events of the campaign of 1777 had proved how important it was to occupy it. It was clear that the plan of the English has been and was still, to render themselves masters of the whole course of the North (Hudson) River, and thus to separate the eastern states from those to the west and the south. It was necessary therefore to secure a post on this river; West Point was chosen as the most important point to fortify, and Fishkill as the place the best adapted to the establishment of the principal depot of provisions, ammunition, etc.: these two positions are connected with each other...Fishkill has all the qualifications necessary for a place of depot, for it is situated on the high road from Connecticut and near the North River, and is protected at the same time by a chain of inaccessible mountains, which occupy a space of more than twenty miles between the Croton and the Fishkill Rivers."
The Fishkill military complex served as a major Quartermaster-Commissary facility and, in 1778, as headquarters for the Northern Department of the Continental Army. Much of the business relating to the quartering of troops and to the activities of the Commissary Department apparently took place at the encampment site, approximately one mile south of the village along the Post Road. However, documentation is available to substantiate the village's inclusion within the military complex.
On August 28, 1776 the Provincial Convention of the State of New York resolved to remove the treasury, the archives, and the governing body itself to Fishkill. At intervals between September 1776 and February 1777 the Convention met in the village, first at Trinity Church and later in the Dutch Reformed Church, before adjourning to Kingston. The Committee of Safety and the Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York also convened at Fishkill during the same period. In addition, Trinity Church was used as a hospital for a time to supplement the medical facility south of the depot; the Dutch Reformed Church served as a military prison; Mary Bloodgood's hatshop nearby was requisitioned as a guardhouse; Jacobus Cooper's armory in the village served the needs of the military; and Alexander Hamilton, Washington's Aide-de-camp, is known to have boarded at an Inn across the road from the Reformed Church. According to the Erskine-DeWitt Map of 1778, a printing office, presumably that of Samuel Loudon, stood northwest of Trinity Church across the Post Road. Loudon, then operating in Fishkill, produced the first printed copies of the New York State Constitution, passed in 1777, but documentation has not yet definitely proven whether his shop was then located at the encampment or in the village.
See also: Village of Fishkill: Beginnings.
Bielinski, Stefan, and Horace Wilcox. "The Fishkill Supply Depot: Historical Background - Interpretive Proposal." Office of State History, State Education Department, November 1970.
Buys, Barbara Smith. "Notes on the Fishkill Supply Depot and Encampment, and the Van Wyck-Wharton House." Fishkill Historical Society, 1968.
Chastellux, Marquis de. Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782. Howard C. Rice, Jr., Translator. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963. I, 86-87.
Disturnell, John. A Gazetteer of the State of New York. Albany: J. Disturnell, 1842.
"Fishkill Supply Depot." Report No. 89, to the New York State Historic Trust. Office of State History, February, 1969.
Gordon, Thomas F. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Philadelphia: T.K. and P.G. Collins, 1836.
Hough, Franklin B. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Albany: Andrew Boyd, 1873.
Spafford, Horatio Gates. A Gazetteer of the State of New York. Albany: N.C. Southwick, 1813.
†Weaver, Lynn Beebe, New York State Board for Historic Preservation, Parks and Recreation, Fishkill Village District, nomination document, 1973, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.