History of the Mesier Homestead and Park
The history of the Mesier Homestead dates back to 1741 and tells the story of two families, both of whom who played an important role in the settlement of the Village of Wappingers Falls.
In October 1741, Adolphus Brewer, a miller of Dutch ancestry born in 1693 in New Netherland (now New York City), purchased 750 acres of unsettled land which was part of the Rombout Patent. This land is now occupied by the Village of Wappingers Falls, and included portions of both sides the Wappingers Creek as well as the Falls and Hudson River frontage. Adolphus, no doubt, saw the great possibility of the Falls for water power necessary to operate grist and saw mills, whose products were so important for the settlers’ survival. He, along with this eldest son Nicholas (born 1714), began to build a small, stone house.
Unfortunately, a lightning strike claimed the life of Adolphus in July 1742. His eldest son, Nicholas, inherited his estate, including the small house and all the land. He completed the construction of the small house, as well as a “Red Mill” (saw mill) along the eastern bank of the Wappingers Creek, a “Yellow Mill” (grist mill) located near where the Knights of Columbus now stands, a dock at the mouth of the Wappingers Creek, and “Brewer’s Bridge”, a wooden plank precursor to the red sandstone bridge that now spans the falls. Later, he expanded the Homestead to its present size by attaching a much larger dwelling to the original small structure. The original structure became the Homestead’s kitchen and utility area.
The Homestead, along with 420 acres of property was sold to Peter Mesier in May 1777. Peter Mesier, a Loyalist and well-to-do merchant from New York City, fled with his family during the Revolutionary War to escape anti-British sentiment. Peter Mesier and his family settled down to what they thought would be a peaceful life and opened a small store in the Homestead. This, however, was not the case for in May 1777, over the course of three days, customers complained with growing intensity over the price Mr. Mesier was charging them for tea. This action, known as the “Wappingers Tea Party” culminated in violent attacks on the home, property, family and servants and reflected other “tea parties” which were taking place in the colonies at that time.
Peter Mesier and his wife, Catherine Sleight, lived peacefully after the incident and together had eight children. Upon the death of Peter in 1806, their eldest son Matthew took over the Mesier Homestead. The Mesier Homestead remained in the family for 4 generations.
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, 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 Mesier Homestead.
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 Gazebo was erected in 1968 by the Wappingers Falls Lions Club as a bandstand for park concerts and festivities. The Mesier 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.
The Wappingers Historical Society took custodianship of the Homestead in 2007. Since then, through much hard work and ongoing generous donations, much of the Homestead has been restored and now reflects the Victorian-era décor of the later generation of the Mesier family. Also on display in the Homestead’s 12 rooms are antiquities from that era as well as items from businesses which once operated in the Village of Wappingers Falls and Town of Wappinger. The restoration process and acquisition of antiquities is ongoing, and your support is greatly appreciated!