I love visiting the Hudson River Valley so any event or tour that I can go on is an excuse to come up here. I had visited all the sites that I wanted to see on a trip two weeks earlier but wanted to see them in more detail plus I wanted to take some pictures. The weather finally broke, and it was a much more pleasant 83 degrees as opposed to the 96 degrees the trip before. That makes the trip much nicer.
I asked my aunt along so that we could share in the experience, and I could use her phone to take pictures of the all the sites. It is a much nicer trip when you have someone along who enjoys these things. The one nice thing about traveling to the Fishkill, New York area is that it is only an hour away and a straight run…
The entrance to Mesier Park where the Homestead is located
The plaque outside the home
I visited the Mesier Homestead recently and toured the home with a local docent. Home to four generations of the Mesier family, the house has been added onto since it was built in the mid-1700’s. The rooms are decorated with furnishings from the Victorian era and shows life as it may have been in the late 1880’s at the height of the Victorian era.
The Mesier Homestead in the summer months
The tour of the rooms shows how the home was added onto to meet the increased demands of a growing family and one of increasing affluence. The original home was added onto from the back to add service areas and work areas for the household.
The entrance to the Mesier Homestead
A portrait of Mrs. Mesier in the hallway
When you enter the foyer from the front door, there are reproductions of family portraits hallway that had served as the parlor of the original house. As the house expanded, this area became the formal entrance to the home. To the right of the foyer, there is the Living Room, where the Historical Society has uncovered one of the two fireplaces from the original home that once heated the rooms.
The reproductions of Mr. and Mrs. Mesier in the Living Room
During the late 1800’s, the son of the owner heightened the ceilings to get rid of the railroad ties that once decorated the ceiling. This gave the room a more modern look and showed the affluence of the family that could heat a home with heigh ceilings.
The Mesier Homestead Living Room
Another view of the Living Room
The room furnishings included family paintings, a then modern Victrola, ornated furniture and diagram of the family tree. The small steps led to a small office off the Living Room that was added onto with more family objects.
The Library and Office off the Living Room at the Mesier Homestead
When you entered the room from the kitchen and the Butler’s Pantry where food was finished and readied to be served, a formally set Dining Room for dinner showed the family’s status in the community.
The Dining Room at the Mesier Homestead
The sideboard and the Dining Room table
An ornate china set from England enhanced the table with fine linens that the family would have owned. A newly opened fireplace that had once heated the dining room was shown by a heating unit that would have been used in the Victorian age. All sorts of fine decorative objects lined the tables and shelves.
By the amount of space available for living and entertaining with the separate rooms for use in the home it showed how times were changing with the affluence of that time. The family would show off their fine things to show their status in the community.
The Fan Collection from Victorian times
The second-floor tour is a view of the slave/then servants’ quarters and the two-family bedrooms. What I thought was interesting on the tour is how the family had to co-mingle in the bedrooms because of the number of children in the family and how mom and dad were not always alone. The rooms had to be expanded so that there was plenty of room for the growing family.
The Children’s bedroom on the second floor
There were many family items in the house like clothing, children’s toys and playthings and items for recreation like bikes, ice skates and musical instruments of a time before TV, movies and radio. There were also items for spinning and making clothes.
Children’s toys during the Victorian Age reflected imagination and preparation for adulthood with blocks, dolls, kitchen items and other playthings to stimulate the mind.
During Victorian times, the way people shopped and carried themselves changed after the Civil War with the rise of department stores and the merchant class. Instead of making your clothes, you bought them at the store and there was protocol on how Victorians behaved and handled themselves in society regardless of class.
The care of grooming a Victorian woman had in her bedroom
One of the rooms was also set up like a small school with original children’s desks and blackboards. There is even a Civil War era flag that was found in one of the local homes hanging in the room.
The tour guide also noted the drafts in the house before insulation was put in and the conditions of the time with weather effecting living conditions inside with drafts in the winter and heat in the summer through the roof plyboards. This was modern living at the time. The heat would radiate from the lower level of the house and the Dutch doors would let fresh air in the warmer months. These were modern in comparison to our modern homes. This was the interesting part of the home.
When I asked why the back rooms had not been renovated like the front of the house, our tour guide explained that the Meiser’s were a very devout family and even though they were affluent for the times, they were restrained and not showy like you would see in places like the Vanderbilt mansion. They would not have entertained like that on a grand scale. It was an interesting perspective that those things did not mean that much to these older families.
The original section of the homestead from 1742 is currently being renovated. This is the original hearth and oven of the kitchen.
The tour takes about an hour and is a fascinating step back in history of the way these families lived.
Recently the house was decorated for the Christmas holidays with garland, holly and fragrant oranges that once masked the household smells. They also gave the house a festive fragrance. These popular tours last through the holiday season.
Please check their website for a list of their activities.
The History of the Mesier Homestead:
The Mesier Homestead and surrounding property was sold to the Village of Wappinger’s Falls in 1891 with the understanding that it forever be known as Mesier Homestead and Mesier Park. The Wappinger’s Historical Society acquired full custodianship of the Homestead in 2007 and through ongoing fundraising efforts has been able to restore the Homestead to its present appearance.
The Mesier Homestead at Christmastime
The History of the house:
The house itself is part of the ‘Rombout Patent’ of land that had been bought by the Dutch from the local Indian tribes by three prominent Dutch families. This section of the property was bought by Nicholas and Adolphus Brewer and contained 750 acres of land around the Falls area, and they built the first stone house in the village near present Mill Street. In 1742, the Brewers built a mill on the east side of Wappinger Creek.
Nicholas Brewer built the Mesier Homestead in 1741, which he sold in 1777 to Matthew Van Benschoten who in turn sold it to Peter Mesier, a merchant from New York City. In May 1777, soldiers and local residents attacked Peter Meiser’s house in Wappinger’s Falls, disputing the price of tea for sale in a small store inside the home. Mesier was a merchant from New York City and a Loyalist. The angry mob struck Mesier, beat his slaves and drank wine stored in the cellar. They also took the tea and left a small amount of money behind. The house was in the possession of the family for the next four generations (Wiki).
The organization’s goal for 2020 and beyond is to restore the original 1741 building so it can be a showcase of our Colonial history. Your membership, gifts and in-kind donations will help us maintain and restore this jewel of Wappinger’s Falls.
The Mesier Homestead at Christmastime
The Wappingers Historical Society Native American Collection:
The Wappingers Historical Society is the curator of an extensive collection of Native American artifacts, many of which stem from the Stoneco/Clinton Point and Bowdoin Park area in the vicinity of the Town of Wappinger. This collection of artifacts was once considered to be the largest private collection in New York State.
Victorian Hair art of the dead
It consists of over 2000 objects, many of which are projectile points (arrowheads and spear points). Some of these have been found to date back 8,500 years. Also included are tools such as scrapers, knives, axes and hatchets. A small portion of approximately 100 pieces of the collection is on display at the Mesier Homestead and can be seen as part of our guided tours.
The Native American collection is extensive at the Meiser House
The Mission of the Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society:
The Wappinger’s Historical is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the Town of Wappinger, the Village of Wappinger’s Falls and neighboring communities and to maintain the custodianship of the Mesier Homestead.
When you are a member of the Wappinger’s Historical Society, you help:
*Preserve and expand our archives, collections and library to actively chronicle the life of our hamlets, village and town for future generations.
*Develop and implement programs and exhibits so that people of all ages can better understand their connection to history.
*Safeguard our architectural heritage of the 1741 Mesier Homestead.
(This information was taken from the Wappinger’s Falls pamphlet, and I give them full credit for it)