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Mesier Park & Homestead

Mesier Homestead and Museum is open for guided tours the second Sunday of every month, from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, and by scheduled appointment (845-632-1281).

The early history of the European Settlement of the area of Wappingers Falls begins in the year of 1741, when two Dutchmen settled here. They were Nicholas and Adolphus Brewer, millers and millwrights who brought their machinery with them. They purchased 750 acres of land around the falls and they built the first stone house in the village around the present Mill Street. In the same year, Nicholas Brewer built a small stone frame house. Shortly after, he added a large addition which was 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 1 and 1/2 stories high, which became the main part of the house. The original building became the kitchen and utility rooms. The new addition was over an excavated cellar. In 1742, the Brewers built a mill where the Knights of Columbus Hall now stands. In July of 1742, Adolphus was killed by lightning and he became the first man to be buried in the graveyard behind the current Zion Episcopal Church.

In 1776, a well-to-do loyalist tea merchant from New York City, Peter Mesier, arrived in Fishkill. He bought the 750 acres of land and the homestead from Nicholas Brewer and opened a small store in the homestead. Mesier angered his customers with high prices and in May of 1777, a number of people broke into his store and demanded tea, refusing to pay the high prices asked. For three days, the intruders beat Mesier and his wife and servants, destroyed his property and raided his cellar.

Peter Mesier and his wife, Catherine Sleight, lived peacefully after the incident and together had eight children, three boys and five girls. Upon the death of Peter in 1806, their son Matthew took over the Mesier Homestead. Matthew and his wife had two sons, Henry and Abram and two daughters, Johanna and Maria. These heirs of Matthew were the last owners of Mesier Homestead.

In 1891, Henry Mesier sold the Homestead and five acres of land to the Village of Wappingers Falls for $2500. James S. Roy was the President of the Village at the time and was instrumental in the transfer of ownership of the park, along with William D. Roy and W.H. Reese of Hughsonville. The sale was made with the stipulation that the parcel of land and the building would forever be known as Mesier Park and Homestead.

While James Roy was President of the Village, a 100 foot high flagpole was placed near the south end of the entrance to the Park. During 1890's, two large mortars were placed on each side of the flagpole. The mortars fired 10-inch round shells and were exact replicas of Civil War mortars.

During World War I, a large wooden memorial plaque was erected and placed at the south entrance to the Park. On the plaque were listed the names of village residents who served their country. A gold star was placed before the name of each man who died in service. An additional plaque was erected for those who served in World War II.

A new memorial was installed in 1952, consisting of a large rock boulder on which is mounted a bronze inscribed tablet, dedicated to the men and women of the community who gave their service in our World Wars. Memorial Day services are held at the monument each year.

Further east in the park, facing South Avenue, is an engraved granite stone dedicated to the service of the Volunteer Fire Department of the Village.

Since the Village's acquisition, the land has been used as a public park. A large horse and carriage barn on the property was dismantled in 1907. The Homestead was initially used for various Village meetings, the collections of taxes, and as a Village voting place. In 1914, the Water Department was established and housed in Mesier Homestead. During the early 1940's, the Village Police Department was moved into the Homestead. Both have now been relocated to the Village Hall.

In 1968, the Wappingers Falls Lions Club worked with the Park Commissioners to erect the Bandstand on the front lawn. The Bandstand has since been used for many activities during the year including concerts, the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremonies, weddings and photo shoots.

In 1971, the Village held a one-week Centennial Celebration, marking the incorporation of the Village. The first Picnic in the Park was held and it was so popular that the event has taken place almost every year since, and includes a parade, music and refreshments.

In 1996, funding was received from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to restore the roof. Additional matching grant funds are now available for the restoration of the exterior and interior of the building. During the Fall of 2007, restoration of the building's interior has begun. The Wappingers Historical Society has custodianship of the entire building.

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