Wheeler Hill Historic District
Wheeler Hill Historic District
Home to Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park & Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors
|Location||Wheeler Hill Rd., Wappinger, New York|
|Area||320 acres (130 ha)|
|Architect||Post, George B.; Downing, Andrew J|
|Architectural style||Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals, Late Victorian, Federal, Italianate, Colonial|
|NRHP Reference #||91000678|
|Added to NRHP||June 14, 1991|
Wheeler Hill Historic District is a federally recognized historic district located at Wappinger in Dutchess County, New York. Along the eastern shore of the Hudson River, atop of the Van Wyck Ridge is the "estates region of the Town of Wappinger". A scenic location, with roads lined with stone walls, properties greeting guests with magnificent stone pillars and iron gates, it includes 49 contributing buildings, 15 contributing sites, and four contributing structures. It encompasses the estates of Obercreek, Elmhurst, Edge Hill, Henry Suydam, William Crosby, and Carnwath Farms that were developed between 1740 and 1940. Also included are two 18th century riverfront commercial structures, the Lent / Waldron Store and Stone House at Farmer's Landing.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. Today the historic district is mostly made up of residential houses, but Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park, Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors, and Obercreek Farm are opened to the public.
Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park
Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park was originally built in 1850 for William and Lydia Willis, relatives of the Mesier family in nearby Wappingers Falls. Willis was a retired hardware merchant from New York City. He sold the Carnwath Manor and the rest of the 200 acre estate after the Civil War to General George Barclay and then built Obercreek. In 1870, General Barclay sold Carnwath to his son-in-law, Francis Robert Rives. Wheeler Hill Road was once known as Rives Avenue or hill.
Rives constructed the Carriage House in 1873 to hold some of the finest carriages and stable horses in the entire country. Later his son, Reginald, inherited the estate, he was elected supervisor of Wappinger in 1900. Around 1910 the property was sold to Isaac Untermyer, who was famous for defending William "Boss" Tweed. By the 1920s the Order of the Brothers of Hermits purchased the property and built the dormitory building and chapel in the mid-1950s. The property was purchased by the Town of Wappinger in 1999 as a park, with hopes to restore the Carnwath Manor, Carriage House, and other structures on the property. It is also home to the Sports Museum of Dutchess County which was dedicated in 2005 along with the Frances Reese Cultural Center (dormitory) by Hillary Clinton, and the soon to be the home of the Town of Wappinger Museum & Visitor Center. The Frances Reese Cultural Center and the Carnwath Chapel at this time are the only buildings on site that are open to the public, with the sports museum, a gift shop, small video viewing room, and snack bar. Friends of Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park maintains and holds events at the estate.
Obercreek was built by William H. Willis in 1856 as their new home after they sold Carnwath Farms just down the road. Since the Willis' were related to the Mesiers the estate was passed down to them and finally to the Reese family who presented plans for development of the property to the Town in 2007. Today a portion of the estate is open to the public every weekend as a farm stand and for events associated with the newly restored Obercreek CSA.
Samuel S. Sands built "Elmhurst" in 1865. Sands was a banker and broker in partnership with William Henry Reese and joined the New York Stock Exchange in 1854. He acted as broker for a number of important financial interests, including the Astors. Sands died at the age of sixty-six at his country estate, "Elmhurst", July 26, 1892. By the mid 1900s, the United Church of Christ operated a church on the property. Since no physical church building was ever constructed, they conducted services at an outdoor pulpit. The property formerly housed the Deer Hill Conference Center, and later The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, an art sanctuary created by artists, Alex and Allyson Grey.
The brother of artist James Augustus Suydam, Henry Suydam was descended from an old New York merchant family. He started a successful tea business before retiring some time in his 40s to turn to his private interests of writing and art. Henry Suydam was an artist in his own right, whose works are displayed at the National Academy of Design. In 1846 Suydam purchased a farmhouse and a parcel of surrounding land from Job Angel for his country estate. In 1882 he privately published a book detailing the history of his mother's family, the Mesiers, combined with a history of the Zion Episcopal Church.
William Crosby Estate
The William Crosby Estate was located on Wheeler Hill Road and is now the location to several private stone residences and Tall Trees subdivision. It stood until the early 1900s until a fire burned it to the ground. According to several residents whose houses are located on the former Crosby Estate, a disgruntled servant was left in charge of the mansion while the family was away in Europe. He burned it down and pieces of the house and personal belongings can still be found on the site today.
Shortly after Francis Rombout (the original grantee of the Rombout Patent) died, his partner Gulian Verplanck was given the northern portion of the patent. By 1750, his descendent was given the portion of the patent and constructed a stone homestead and mill in Fishkill Plains on the Sprout Creek. He also constructed a small stone structure on the Hudson River which was used to sell and ship out wheat and other crops to cities and consumers. This location later became known as Farmers Landing. The house is also known as being hit with a cannon ball from a British Naval ship on its way to burn the City of Kingston. Today it is a private residence on Old Troy Road and can be seen from the MTA Hudson Line railroad
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Robert D. Kuhn (April 1991). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Wheeler Hill Historic District". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-10-24. See also: "Accompanying 37 photos".
- "Historic Carnwath Farms", Town of Wappinger
- "Carnwath Farms", Town of Wappinger
- "Master Plan - Obercreek - Alex Reese", Town of Wappinger, December 26, 2007
- "Samuel Stevens Sands" (PDF). New York Times. July 26, 1892. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
Samuel Stevens Sands, who died on Sunday at his country place, Elmhurst, New-Hamburg, N. Y., was only one or two places from the head of the list of Stock Exchange members in point of length of connection with that institution. He joined it in 1854. For many years he was head of the firm of S.S. Sands Co., acting as a broker for many important financial interests, including the Astors'.
- Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park
- Sports Museum of Dutchess County
- Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors
- Obercreek Estate/Farm