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. Currently, three exhibits are on
display: Our Hamlet: Rhinecliff curated by Cynthia S. Baer, The Dows Family, and Our Town:
Mill and Montgomery Streets, Rhinebeck. Friends and neighbors have generously lent items
for these exhibits which augment materials in the museum’s permanent collection
and help to bring the past alive.
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.
Mrs. Harry H. Hill, Sr. (the former Anna Reed) at
a Community Day in the 1950s wearing a period outfit. The George Clinton ferryboat that ran between Rondout
and Rhinecliff. Three Generations of David Dows taken from a glass negative. Interior of the Fichera Shoe Store on Montgomery Street
(Route 9) in Rhinebeck. St. Peter's Lutheran Church (aka Old Stone Church),
Route 9, Rhinebeck. Rev. Frederick Quitman was its first minister. Workers at Flat Rock Quarry just north of Rhinecliff,
taken as they worked on the Astor Tunnel. The NY Central
Railroad ran right through that tunnel on a regular basis. Interior of Rhinebecks first official beauty parlor
-- the coiffeur/owner was Elizabeth (nee McKee) Thorsen Vincent Astor bids bon voyage to FDR, as the President
is about to embark on Astor's private yacht for a jaunt.
FDR used Astor's yacht on more than one occasion. William Rutsen Carroll of Rhinebeck, funeral
director and cabinet/furniture maker, formerly
located on East Market Street in Rhinebeck. The former coal building up at Hog's Bridge (north end of
Montgomery Street) in Rhinebeck as it was being torn down. Mrs. Stephen P. Traver, ancestor of numerous Rhinebeck residents. The old bleachers at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds taken c 1938. Rhinebeck entrepreneur /resident John Lown in his then-new car. Mary Garrettson, daughter of Rev.
Freeborn Garrettson and his wife Catharine Livingston,
of Rhinebeck. Mary donated land for the Black section of Rhinebeck Cemetery. The Millers standing in front of their home,
the Schuyler ancestral place, The Grove, on Miller Road in Rhinebeck, NY. Postcard of West Market Street in the village of Rhinebeck Postcard of Astor's Conservatory that was at Ferncliff on
River Road in Rhinebeck Postcard of Van Steenberg's Mill and Pond on Mill Road in Rhinebeck Postcard of Astor's Italian Gardens what were at Ferncliff on River Road in Rhinebeck Postcard of The Grove, home of Dr. & Mrs. George Miller, still standing, on Miller Road in Rhinebeck Postcard of Locust Grove Inn, the home of Mr. & Mrs. Roy Decker in the village of Rhinebeck.
A published letter by Mrs. William Saltford mentions this house. Helen Reed DeLaporte - teacher and former student at the DeGarmo Institute, Rhinebeck, NY Elmer Coon, prominent violet grower of Rhinebeck Mrs. Samuel Frost (nee Barbara Traver) of Rhinebeck, NY Mr. Samuel Frost of Frost Mills, Town of Clinton, NY Snyder Violets Ink Blotter (2013 Museum calendar cover) Wells Pet Cemetery in the village of Rhinebeck, NY
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