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


Baxtertown Road, Fishkill

Ronald Greene of Fishkill, NY

Last week I was invited to a dinner hosted by the Fishkill Democratic Commitee in honor and recognition of local Ronald Greene’s work in historical research on his property, located on Baxtertown Road in Fishkill, NY.  On his property, there is a foundation of an Zion Church which was probably used until the 1930’s.  What we have here is a history, that of which would have most likely been lost, but is now just starting to be uncovered.  Mr. Greene, however, has been working to get this foundation recognized by NY State Parks to be put onto the registrar of historic buildings. His main concern is having an historical marker placed which reads that “This was the Zion Church, and it was a stop on the Underground Railroad.”

The next day after the dinner, I met with Ronald Greene at his home, where the foundation lies, and learned that he was was a social worker who developed his skills by working for the state of New York, and now he his managing his own company.

I have been helping minimally with this project by giving reference to certain maps he was looking for, but after we talked that afternoon, I made it clear that my real work for Mr. Greene will be performing historical research on that road and around that area.

Nevertheless, I was very impressed with the amount of research he already did.  He showed me how he laid an old map onto Google Earth to prove that the dot on the old map lined up exactly with where the foundation is today.  Some other old maps, and engineering maps all made it clear that this foundation was indeed the foundation of the church in which other references read that members of this church conducted stops on the Underground Railroad. We walked outside on the property and he actually showed me the exact spot where the developers filled in the foundation.

I am sure that this year, Ronald Greene’s research will be recognized on the national registrar of historic places.  All of the awards that we was given and granted from leading politicians in Fishkill, Dutchess County, and the state of New York will definitely give the project more legitimacy, and it would be irrational for NY Parks to deny an historic place marker on Baxtertown Road.

Ronald Greene’s work is important and he needs as much help as we can offer. This foundation of a Zion Church which he located is just the beginning of including African American and Native American peoples and history into an historical narrative of the Hudson River Valley and New York City.