A Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton, East Fishkill

A couple of days ago, my director at the East Fishkill Historical Society emailed our Board about an old Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton in East Fishkill, New York.  He encouraged us to take a look for ourselves because in a couple of weeks it wouldn’t be there.  We were warned that it would be the last opportunity to see another original house of East Fishkill, recorded under the same family which our historic site was named after, before being bulldozed.  This was routine for many of the Board members – for an historic house to be demolished by development companies – but for me – this was the first time when such a thing actually meant something to me.  I would always hear stories about buildings being taken down, but this time – I felt like I needed to see it and take notes.  I needed to take pictures of this Brinckerhoff house on Lake Walton because it wouldn’t be there again.

When I pulled up to the front, I immediately thought of Jumangi, but only the overgrowth was making its way inside the house through the windows.  Nature’s force made her way over time.  Before I even left from the East Fishkill Historical Society, I was warned from my director, who went the day before, to be careful of the poison ivy and ticks in the high grass.

Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton 10

 

The East Fishkill Historical Society inquired about saving the house for the first time in 2009, and developers replied with all intentions of preserving the historic building.  However, after years of continued neglect, it seems as though this old house reached the point of no return.  I was recently just getting myself acquainted with the attempted preservation of Van Wyck homes in Wiccopee by the Board members in the 1960s and 70s, and now, even though I could not do anything to save this Brinckerhoff house, I felt like the least I could do was try to saw something left of the house, weeks before it goes.

When I first turned into the street off Lake Walton Road, I was immediately reminded of my mother’s house in New Windsor.  At the end of that street which I grew up on, there was a dirt path that went back into the woods, and as kids we would go back there to hang out.  I recently found out that the name of the street was named after the farm which used to encompass the whole development off of Union Avenue, and that the original farmhouse was deep into the woods, further than any of my friends ever travelled.  Much like the street my mother still lives on, this Brinckerhoff house was located past the dead end sign, and I continued to follow the dirt path until I parked in front.  Even though it was early in the morning, the silence in the deep woods made the whole experience of walking into this vandalized house very spooky.  I couldn’t imagine entering the house at night time, and I give credit to the many neighborhood kids who used to explore the interior before the porch collapsed over the front door.Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton 2

I had to make myself a path around the house to see if there was another way to get in.  As soon as I walked into the door, I proceeded to the more modern kitchen and completely went past the stairs to the basement.  After I checked out the fire places and walls I realized that I needed to see the foundation; I wanted to try and figure out how old the house was.  It certainly was placed in a beautiful location, and from a window upstairs I reimagined a cleaner lake and a mowed lawn.  This must have been beautiful.

Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton 8

On the phone with my director, he said that he didn’t go into the basement, but I needed to see it. Plus, its so cool to see an original foundation – one that has not even been cleaned up.  The masonry work on some of these old foundations is unbelievable.  Since it was built with stones, I figured that the house was probably erected sometime in the 18th century, but not the whole thing.  I was looking for a way to continue in the basement, but  there was no way to enter into any other part downstairs.  With a flashlight, I saw through some missing stones, and noticed that the rest of the foundation, which was inaccessible, was made out of cinder blocks.  This meant that most of the house was added onto and then maintained after the original foundation and house was already there (much like the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site).

Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton 3

Exploring the house was an experience in itself, and my only regret is that I only found out about it less than a week ago.  What could have been on a list for one of my favorite places to bring someone interested in history will not exist soon.  Some more pictures:

Upstairs, Looking Down Three Rooms

Second Floor, Looking Down Three Rooms

Downstairs, Vandalism

First Floor, Vandalism

Downstairs, Fireplace

First Floor, Fireplace

Basement Entrance from First Floor

Basement Entrance from First Floor

View of House from Other Side of Lake Walton

View of the Brinckerhoff House from the Other Side of Lake Walton

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17 thoughts on “A Brinckerhoff House at Lake Walton, East Fishkill

  1. That’s so cool. I would have been freaked out to go in there. I wish the could preserve it. If I get my life together one day I want to live in an old house full of history and character. It would be so cool.

  2. This is an amazing post Michael! Loved the beautiful writing, it was almost creative non fiction. I really felt as if I was really there. Sad that I’ll never get to see it but it wonderful to see such passion in the history of your area. I hope for more posts like this!

      • Wow I cant believe how times have changed. As a child I learned how to swim at the beach on lk walton back in the 60s. Then as a teen I worked the grounds cleaning cabins and things of that nature.in the 70s. Back then this lake was hopping with life. Campers filled the grounds and the lakehouse was the place to be .I havent been there in yrs but I know developers were going to build.Dont know if this has happened but its sad to see the place run down like it is .

      • I was really there in the 1960’s. The view from across the lake was where I camped. Your article … was writtin as though you camped along side my family. I was a boy then. You have a talent. you made me feel as though I traveled back in time. Spot on. Very well done.

  3. My family lives in this neighborhood, and it is shameful what the developers allowed to be done to this house. Every year at Thanksgiving, on returning to visit family, I would take a walk over to the property to visit the house. The house was in beautiful shape for many years and left untouched, (before kids broke into the property). Even as late as last year, the house was still fixable. Mr. Brinckerhoff loved his house and property. He took great pride in the up keep of the house, and the lake. The demolishing of this house is a spit in the face to the Brinckerhoff’s and the town’s history. This house was a historic landmark that should have been saved. This saddens me beyond words, and Lake Walton will never be the same. The land and history of Dutchess County is being destroyed to make a few pockets fuller.

    • Lisa, thank you for reading this article. I am very overdue for another. My name is Michael, and I am the curator and caretaker for the East Fishkill Historical Society. We are situated in the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site off Palen Road. If you are around the area this time of year at all, or anytime in the near future, I kindly invite you and your family for a tour of our site.

      • barootm….this is a great article ..i have been combing the property for artifacts that will possibly date that house back to the 1700’s….I’d like to speak with you if at all possible…please email me a contact number at mr70s@verizon.net.

        Many thanks in advance !!

        Paul D

      • Hi Michael, My name is Kimberly and I live in the area. I am sooooo interested in the history of our town. It saddens me to see beautiful old homes just being destroyed as if they have no meaning. We are now dealing with the upcoming destruction of the Wiccoppee General Store. It has been bought out and they are putting a Stew Lenard’s there from what I have heard. I would love to get involved with the historical society. Please let me know how to do that. Thank you.

      • Michael, I grew up in Lake Walton. It was a spectacular site. It was a fully functional campground. Mr. brinkerhoff,even then late in his life loved his property. He himself as long with his caretaker( of the property) would ride around filling in potholes with dirt from the bed of his personal Chevy S-10 pick up. I recently took my children there, ages8, 6, 2 and told them stories of my childhood, of fishing, hunting for turtles, riding bikes and making trails. They were sold! They asked if we could move to a place like that. I miss that so much.

  4. Thanks for your article. I was wondering what ever became of the houses around this lake.
    As a resident of East Fishkill for many years, I have been fascinated by this place. I drove around the lake this past summer and was saddened to see that the porch had fallen off the Brinkerhoff home. I would have liked to have stopped to look longer, but was afraid the cops would arrest me for trespassing. Back in 2006 was the last time I was there. I wasn’t there more than 10 minutes before a security guard told me the property had sold and no one was welcome there anymore. I did manage to take a few pictures before the security guard found me. I wish I had taken more, as it looks like that is all that now remains. Here they are: http://www.brilliancejewelry.com/lakewalton/index.html

    Back in 2006 there were plans to turn the land around the lake into a housing development. From what I understand the original developer went bankrupt when the housing bubble burst.

    Does anyone know what the future plans are for that area? It would be wonderful if the town could purchase the land and turn it into a park.

    Thanks again for your story, It must have been a lovely place back in it’s day.

  5. I grew up in one of the mobile homes on the other side of the lake, and it was truly a wonderful place to be a kid! My friend, Paula and I claimed the island as our own. I spent summers at the dock playing with the kids that were there camping, and winters climbing trees, biking through the woods and swamps, and sometimes even ice skating on the lake (but not until the snowmobiles were on it). We moved away when I was 11, but Lake Walton was one of the greatest parts of my childhood. It’s a shame that it has fallen into such a sorry state.

  6. I grew up on Cottontail lane. which is less than a 1/4 mile from Lake Walton. I spent many a day fishing and ice skating on the lake. The fishing was always good. I can remember the boat house on the far side of the lake near the campground was a hot spot for kids to hang out with the other kids that were camping there for the summer. . Mr. Brinkerhoff, (or as us kids referred to him as “Old Man Brinkerhoff “) was always around and super friendly. It’s a shame his house and barn weren’t preserved. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  7. I wish they never sold the property, as a kid my family used to run the camp grounds there. I had a lot of good times there. I still would fish there up till they posted the lake area. I would still like to fish there.

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