Museum of Rhinebeck History

History of the area
Dutch families first settled the land in the Hudson River Valley around 1686. Rhinebeck and its citizens have contributed to the historical wealth of the nation, farming the land, developing the fabric of the community and playing integral roles in wars from the Revolutionary to those of the 20th century.

Rynbeck: The first settlement
Henry Beekman, who by royal grant owned most of the present town of Rhinebeck, settled 35 Palatine German families in this area around 1714. Their community, centered around a log church a mile south of the present-day stone edifice, came to be known as Rynbeck.
Business was conducted here until the early 19th century. Its importance diminished as growth and commerce in “The Flatts”, the village three miles to the south, eventually overshadowed this entire early settlement. The incorporation of the Village of Rhinebeck took effect in 1834.

History of the museum
In 1992 a small group of dedicated people acted to bring to reality the dream of former Town Historian, Dewitt Gurnell – a museum for Rhinebeck. Their planning resulted in the Museum of Rhinebeck History, which opened in May of 1993. The museum’s mission is to collect, catalog and interpret the history of the town. The collection of gifts to the museum includes letters, books, military, journals, clothing, furniture, photographs and other artifacts which reveal the life of this community. Many of these items are kept on display in the museum’s permanent collection.

Annual exhibits, mid-June through October, have traced the history of Rhinebeck through the centuries. The premier exhibit in 1993, was entitled The First Century (18th), followed in subsequent years by Antebellum Rhinebeck, The Civil War, The Gilded Age, The Violet Industry, World War I, The Roosevelt Years, World War II, Early Rhinebeck Industries, Rhinebeck’s Sporting Life, Rhinebeck: The Parlor City, and A Walk Down Memory Lane: A Look at East and West Market Streets.

Another major project is the ongoing task of taping local residents as part of the museum’s oral history project. Tapes are transcribed and information is used to help develop exhibits and construct new museum publications.

The Quitman house
The museum is located in the area where the town was first settled. It is housed in the former parsonage, built in 1798 by the parishioners of the nearby “Old Stone Church”, for The Reverend Frederick H. Quitman. Rev. Quitman served the Lutheran congregation over 30 years.

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