Wappingers Falls, New York

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For the Native American tribe, see Wappinger.
Village of Wappingers Falls
Downtown Wappingers Falls
Downtown Wappingers Falls
Village of Wappingers Falls is located in New York
Village of Wappingers Falls
Village of Wappingers Falls
Location within the state of New York
Coordinates: 41°35′57″N 73°55′5″W / 41.59917°N 73.91806°W / 41.59917; -73.91806Coordinates: 41°35′57″N 73°55′5″W / 41.59917°N 73.91806°W / 41.59917; -73.91806
Country United States
State New York
County Dutchess
Incorporated 1871
 • Total 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2)
 • Land 1.1 sq mi (3.0 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 154 ft (47 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 5,522
 • Density 4,600/sq mi (1,800/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 12590
Area code(s) 845 Exchanges: 296, 297, 298.
FIPS code 36-78168[1]
GNIS feature ID 0968775[2]
Website Village of Wappingers Falls, New York

Wappingers Falls /ˈwɒpənərz ˈfɔːlz/ is a village in Dutchess County, New York. The community was named for the cascade in Wappinger Creek. A portion of the village is in the town of Wappinger and the other part is in the town of Poughkeepsie, with Wappinger Creek forming the dividing line between the towns.

The Village of Wappingers Falls also holds claim to New York State's 6th oldest library, the Grinnell Library.[3]


See also: Wappinger

The Wappinger People were a loose confederation of tribes living from the eastern banks of the Hudson River, from modern northern Dutchess County, New York, south into Westchester County, and eastward into north-central Connecticut into the Connecticut River valley south to the Long Island Sound. They spoke an eastern-Algonkian Native American language. Culturally they are closely related to the Lenape People (Delaware Indians) to the west and south of Wappinger lands; also related to the Mahican People to their immediate north and to the Metoac Peoples of Long Island. “Wappinger” means “easterner” in most Algonkian languages.[4]

The area was part of the Rombout Patent. In 1741, two Dutchmen, Nicholas and Adolphus Brewer, purchased 750 acres of land around the falls and they built the first stone house in the village near the present Mill Street. In 1742, the Brewers built a mill on the east side of Wappinger Creek.[5] Nicholas Brewer built the Mesier Homestead, which he sold in 1777 to Matthew VanBenschoten, who, in turn, sold it to Peter Mesier, a merchant from New York City.[6]

The local waterfall was important for early industrial development. In 1819 a small cotton mill was built in the hollow created by the creek as it descends from Wappinger Lake to drain into the nearby Hudson River. By 1856 it had become one of the largest printworks in the country. A fire that year destroyed the original buildings completely, but they were immediately rebuilt and continued in operation until 1931. The streets on the hillside opposite the mill are lined with frame houses, mostly duplexes, built by the mill for its workers. The two halves of the village are connected by an 1884 stone arch bridge that replaced earlier wooden structures.

The village of Wappingers Falls was incorporated in 1871 and included the adjacent community of Channingville, which was on the west side of the Wappinger Creek. In the late 1700s-mid-1800s the east side was known as Franklindale. In 1885 the Franklindale Cotton Mill, which employed about 130 people, was destroyed by fire; and later, during President Grover Cleveland’s second administration, the Independent Comb Factory on the corner of Fulton and Prospect Streets was forced to close. The repeal of the tariff made it impossible for the company to compete with German-made combs. In 1909, the Garner Print Works were sold and became the Dutchess Bleachery. The plant, which at times employed as many as 1150 people, stopped printing calico but continued as a bleachery and dye works.[7]


Bain Commercial Building, Wappingers Falls, NY

That portion of the village lying north of the creek (in the Town of Poughkeepsie) was originally known as Ednamville. It later became known as Channingville, (sometimes rendered "Chiningville"), which name is derived from the Channing family, who owned the farm on which it mostly lies. Patrick Kennedy's North American Hotel, and Eagan's Opera House (built in 1876 by John Eagan, with a seating capacity for five hundred people) were located here. The village's first post office was established here in 1840.[8]

The Bain Commercial Building is located at the corner of Church and West Main (NY 9D) streets. The Bain family is believed to have built the building in 1875, shortly after Channingville became part of the village. It was both their residence and their place of business. It is a late 19th-century brick building that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Historic places[edit]

Downtown Wappingers Falls, NY

The Wappingers Falls Historic District includes downtown, several adjacent residential neighborhoods, and Mesier Park & Homestead. Mesier Park has been a public park since ca. 1891, and hosts many annual events that focus around the band stand and tree lined paths of the park. In 1984 the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The village's business district, along West Main Street north and south of the creek, is lined with three-story Italianate row buildings dating to the years after the Civil War. The residential streets to the southwest are filled with larger houses in a variety of 19th-century styles, from Greek and Gothic Revival to Second Empire and Queen Anne. Two significant contributing properties separately listed in the Register date to the pre- and post-industrial eras. The Mesier-Brewer House in the center of the village is a well-preserved pre-Revolutionary stone and wood home common in the region. Across from it at the junction of West Main Street and South Avenue is the fieldstone village hall. It was originally built as one of five post offices in the county designed in stone at the insistence of Roosevelt, a native of nearby Hyde Park. In the late 20th century a new post office was built several blocks to the east and in 1995 the village moved its operations there from the American Legion Hall on Spring Street. The police, who had been working from the Mesier House, joined them.

The Dutchess Company Superintendent's House is located on Market Street in the western corner of the village. It is a large brick residence that was built as housing for the manager of the Dutchess Company, a large local printing works, shortly after the plant was built in 1848. It remained in company ownership until the company failed in the 20th century. In 1984 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Police Station, former P.O. listed on the NRHP.

The Police Station is located at the corner of South Avenue (NY 9D) and East Main Street in the Dutchess County, New York. It was originally built in 1940 as the village's new post office, a WPA project. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took a personal interest in the project, as he had with other new post offices in other Dutchess County. He wanted it to be built of fieldstone in the style of many Dutch colonial houses in the area, and chose the Brewer-Mesier House in the village as the model for its design. The old post office, now village hall contains two Treasury Section of Fine Arts murals by Henry Billings. The paintings by Henry Billings show two views of the town’s waterfall at different points in time; one from 1780 and the other from 1880, face each other from opposite ends of the small building.

Places of worship[edit]

Zion Episcopal Church[edit]

Zion Episcopal Church began in 1820 under the shade of an apple tree when Joanna Mesier, wife of Matthew Mesier, began a Sunday School. There were only seven or eight families living in the area at the time. The class was subsequently moved a the corn barn near the Mesier Homestead where the village flagpole now stands. The Mesiers attended Trinity Church in Fishkill, the nearest Episcopal Church, but felt the need for a church less distant for the farmers of the area and their families. In 1833, the Reverend Doctor George B. Andrews, moved to a farm, "Highmount" between Hughsonville and New Hamburg. On July 14 of that year he conducted the first official service of the Episcopal Church somewhere on the north side of Wappingers Creek. He continued to be driven up from his farm with his family and servants to spend Sundays near the falls. In December 1833, Matthew Mesier gave a small tract of land between the burial ground and the turnpike (now Main Street) in front of what was then Mr. Givens’ place. One month later plans were made to construct a church. The stone for the church came from the property of Benjamin Clapp, much a which he hauled himself. Zion Protestant Episcopal Church was dedicated by Bishop Onderdonk on May 6, 1836. Mr. Andrews served as pastor, not only to the church in Wappingers, but often found time to row across the Hudson to conduct services in Marlboro.[9]

Bethel Missionary Baptist Church[edit]

The Franklindale Baptist Church was organized in 1838. Benjamin Clapp, former warden of Zion Episcopal converted to the Baptist faith and donated land on the corner of Prospect Street and South Avenue. The church building was dedicated on December 5, 1847.[6] In 1967 the Bethel Baptist community purchased Franklindale Baptist, which was dedicated as Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on October 15, 1967. In 1997 the need for additional space brought the purchase of the house across Prospect Street, which had belonged to Dr. Kerrigan. Referred to as Bethel Annex the 1830s building provided space for the Church School and events.[10] In the mid-2000s, the Kerrigan House was sold and transported across South Avenue to be replaced by a new church building.

First Presbyterian Church[edit]

The Presbyterian Church at Wappingers Falls owes it existence to Mrs. John Fisher Sheafe, whose country seat was near New Hamburg. She asked the Rev. John D. Wells, who was then preaching at Ellessdie Chapel,(situated two miles north of New Hamburg on the river road), to see if there was a need for a church in Wappingers. This resulted in the organization of the Presbyterian Society in 1848, and the same year a church edifice and parsonage was built by Mrs. Sheafe on Fulton Street. During the pastorate of Rev. O.A. Kingsbury (1879-1873) the Fulton St. property was sold and the present brick structure on South Ave. erected. The new church was dedicated July 23, 1872.[6]

United Methodist Church of Wappingers Falls[edit]

In the Methodist Episcopal Church of Ednam Village was established. It was a mission church served by preachers who rode circuit to Middlebush and New Hamburg. In the spring of 1868, with the idea of merging the Wappingers Falls and Middlebush congregations, land was purchased from the estate of Margaret Reese. The old Middlebush church was taken down and the materials used to construct a barn on the new church property on Mesier Avenue.[8]


Mesier Homestead

Wappingers Falls, is situated at the head of navigation on Wappinger creek, about two miles above its confluence with the Hudson.[11] According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2), of which, 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (4.96%) is water.

Wappinger Creek flows through the village. The Wappingers Falls post office serves both the Village of Wappingers Falls and the Town of Wappinger (as well as portions of Fishkill, East Fishkill, Poughkeepsie and Lagrange) under the ZIP code: "Wappingers Falls, NY 12590". US 9 passes through the village, as well as NY 9D.


Grinnell Library

As of the 2010 census, the total population of the village was 5,522. The racial makeup of the village was 72.5% White, 7.4% African American, 0.03% Native American, 4.8% Asian, 10.2% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.2% of the population. The median age was 35.5 years.

The median income for a household in the village was $39,123, and the median income for a family was $50,000. Males had a median income of $38,147 versus $26,607 for females. The per capita income for the village was $20,491. About 10.4% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.1% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.

It is part of the PoughkeepsieNewburghMiddletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New YorkNewarkBridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area.

Entertainment and the arts[edit]

County Players Falls Theatre, a volunteer, non-profit community theatre is located on West Main Street in the Village, in the former Academy Theatre building.

Notable people[edit]

  • Jack Mulhall (1887–1979) – silent movie actor was born here
  • Tawana Brawley – a 15-year old black girl in 1987, who with the Reverend Al Sharpton, inflamed race relations nationwide by falsely accusing a white prosecutor of rape.[12]


  • Ward Moore's 1953 alternate history novel Bring the Jubilee, the protagonist, Hodgins M. Backmaker, is set in Wappingers Falls.
  • Gianpaolo Zeni, En Merica! L'emigrazione della gente di Magasa e Valvestino in America, Cooperativa Il Chiese, Storo 2005.


External links[edit]