Second Baptist Church (Poughkeepsie, New York)

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Second Baptist Church
Second Baptist Church, Poughkeepsie, NY.jpg
East (front) elevation and south profile, 2008
Basic information
Location Poughkeepsie, NY, USA
Geographic coordinates 41°42′23″N 73°55′51″W / 41.70639°N 73.93083°W / 41.70639; -73.93083
Affiliation American Baptist Churches USA
Country United States of America
Architectural description
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Greek Revival
Direction of façade east
Materials Wood
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Added to NRHP January 20, 1972
NRHP Reference no. 72000836[1]

The Second Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, New York, United States, is located at the corner of Vassar and Mill streets. It is a wooden building from the late 1830s in the Greek Revival architectural style, the only remaining church in the city in that style.[2]

A number of congregations have used the building since it was first erected. It was even a synagogue at one point, possibly leading to the nickname Vassar Temple, since it was built on land originally owned by Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College. In 1972 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and later became a contributing property to the Mill Street-North Clover Street Historic District.


The church is rectangular, three bays by six, with the narrow, colonnaded facade facing east. It has only one story, plus an attic, but appears to have two due to its brick basement being exposed on all but the south sides. The gabled roof has a gentle pitch[2]

Four pilasters on the short sides, and six on the long, separate each bay. All are sided in flush board. The main entrance is a pedimented portico supported by four wooden Doric columns topped with flat-disced architraves topped by a frieze of alternating flat panels and triglyphs. The entablature is framed by a boxed cornice, and a small round window with segmented frame is at its center.[2]

The two main entrance doors have stained glass windows, and there are four larger ones on the longer elevations. All have the same design, of two columns on ornate bases supporting an arched ribbed baldachin-like canopy and ornament.[2]


The property was first used for religious purposes in the mid-1830s, when a splinter group from the Presbyterian Church bought it from Matthew Vassar's family. The church design is based on a pattern in an 1833 builder's guide. Greek Revival architecture was popular and influential for public buildings, as well as having elements used for residential buildings. The Presbyterian congregation did not last, and they sold the building to the First Congregational Church in 1842.[2] The church's ownership and uses reflected changing demographics of the city.

Years later the congregation sold it to a private owner, who donated it to the local Masonic lodge in 1859. The next year the lodge sold it to Matthew Vassar, Jr. He sold it to a local synagogue, the Congregated Brethren of Israel, in 1868. This use led to it being referred to as the "Vassar Temple", which also referred to its front colonnade.[2]

The Second Baptist Church and the Farmer's and Manufacturer's Bank on Market Street are the only major non-residential Greek Revival buildings left in Poughkeepsie. The rest, such as the former city hall, have been demolished and superseded.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mauri, Stephanie (May 1971). "National Register of Historic Places nomination, Second Baptist Church". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 11, 2009.