The Roundhouse at 2 East Main Street. Anecdotal history tells us the reason this building is shaped half- round was to accommodate the blacksmith stations built around a large central hearth. Its earliest use was as a machine shop for the Matteawan Company, and its origin dates back to the late 1820s. The Roundhouse’s most notable claim is as the place where the first lawnmowers were made in America (about 1860 to 1870s) by then owner Horatio Nelson Swift.
Just past The Round House is a stone bridge leading along East Main Street (currently one of the most populuar spots for takeing a picture of the falls and creek). Pictured here is old Church Street Bridge that existed previously.
The Dummy Light (Intersection of Main and East Main Streets).
A landmark of the East End, this traffic light (called a “Dummy” light for its stance in the middle of the road) was one of four such lights installed in 1926, as Beacon’s first traffic lights. Built by the Essco Manufacturing Company of Peoria, our Dummy Light is one of only three such lights in New York State to survive and still function.
Passing the Dummy Light, and looking to the right, is the location of the
Schenck Mill, c. 1911 -- This building, now part of the Tallix Properties, was built in the 1830s as the Schenck Homestead. Peter Schenck, our first industrialist and grandson-in-law of Madam Brett, owned -- essentially -- all of the land from here down to Wolcott Ave., on both sides of the creek. It was along that corridor that industries sprang up, as factories harnessed the water's poer at a series of dams. Madam Brett's grist mill was located at the mouth of the creek (see Madam Brett Park >>) and white settlers -- some traveling by canoe from across the river -- came to grind their grain there before sending it on to New York City.
Factory at 578 Main Street. Although relatively young compared to our creek factories, this building has had multiple owners and a variety of products made here since it was built in the late 1880s. It started as Schenck’s Machine Shop, where large woodworking planers were made. Later air brakes for railroad cars were manufactured here. Then a silk mill, followed by a coat factory, followed by a hat factory, and so on. It may be Beacon’s most re-adapted factory building. Today, 578 Main is home to a business making fine wood products.
Beacon Falls and Dam (Main at Verplanck Avenue).
Our early factories were powered by the falling waters of the Fishkill Creek. The factories at 10 East Main and One East Main had their looms and machinery driven by water flowing into sluice ways off this dam. The dam itself probably dates back to 1860, or earlier. Cotton goods, railway locomotives, knives, fur hats and many other products were made in these two factories thanks to water power.
Drinking Establishment at 554 Main Street. Dating back to thenineteenth century, this buildingseemed to have always housed a saloon of some kind. About 1900, it was Edward St. John’s Saloon and Hotel. During Prohibition, it was Alphonse Pietrowski’s soda fountain establishment, though hard liquor also was known to be gotten. Later it would be MiRo’s Restaurant and bar. And true to its tradition, today 554 Main is home to the Hop, where a glass of upscale beer may be had.
Factory at One East Main Street. Look closely at the south end of this building and you will see the original stone structure of Beacon’s first factory—the Matteawan Company of 1814. The rest of the four-story brick building was built in 1912, originally as a hat factory, and from about 1940, a shared hat-and-blanket manufactory. The hat side was Debway Hats, the blanket side was the Bobrich Corporation, America’s leading electric blanket manufacturer in the 1950s. Condominiums are planned for this, Beacon’s largest former factory.
Corner of Main St. & South Street
The Bend just past South St. & Main
Main Street at the Bend. Little changed since this section of Main Street’s East End was built in the 1870s, the curvilinear buildings located where Main Street “bends” have a distinctive looking miter-joint architectural angle to them. The storefronts there are pie-slice shaped—wider in the front going to a narrower back.
Main Street East End Corner -- Postcard
Matteawan Railroad Station (at Main and Churchill Street). The Matteawan Depot originally was a two story frame building built in 1873 for the Dutchess and Columbia Railroad. In 1876, a third story was added. Over the years a bevy of different railroads have used this station, including the New haven Railroad, the last to have regular passenger service here that ended in 1933. Today beauty salons and apartments occupy the building.
The Old Matteawan Train Station was built in 1869--back view
Wolcott Ave. Bridge - Just past the Old Matteawan Train Station to the left, down the hill another stone bridge crosses the creek. Depicted here was new stone bridge being built besde the old wooden bridge.
First Methodist Church of Matteawan (Main and Tioronda Ave.)Erected in 1869-70, on the site St. Anna’s Church, this historic church dominates the landscape of the East End with its towering 114-feet high spire. Once home to two old congregations, the Methodists and the Episcopalians, the church is still thriving today as a Spanish Pentecostal Church—the Tabernacle of Christ.
Main St. East End - around "The Bend" Heading down Main Street. The Howland Library is to the left.
Howland Library (Corner of Main and Tioronda Ave.)
Given as a gift to the residents of the twin villages by General Joseph Howland and designed by his brother-in-law, noted architect Richard Morris Hunt, the Howland Library opened in 1872. At first, patronage of the library was by subscription only, until 1928, when it became free to the public. Today, it is the home of the Howland Cultural Center, and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Coal Silos on Tioronda Avenue.
Just past the Spanish Church on the corner of Main and Tioranda, looking down the street and to the left are the Coal Silos. Built at a time when Coal was King, these silos are important relics of our city’s industrial and railroad past. Erected in 1931 for the Garret Storm coal business, each silo is 55 feet tall and holds 320 tons of coal, which was loaded by conveyor belt from a railroad car on a nearby siding.
Brown Block: #456 Main to #476 Main Street.Except for a few roof line changes, this row of buildings once known as the “Brown Block” looks much the same as it did 130 years ago. The storefronts here were among the first to be refurbished in Beacon’s renaissance of the late 1980s.
The Beacon Theatre at 445 Main Street.Built on the site of the old Dibble Opera House, the Beacon Theatre opened in August of 1934, with the movie “Operator13” starring Gary Cooper. The Beacon was our city’s most elegant movie house, designed in an art deco style with red velour draperies, walls of Italian marble, and lush carpeting. The Beacon Theatre closed as a cinema in 1968, but it is now in the process of being refurbished and repurposed.
The old Beacon Police Station
Mase Hook and Ladder Firehouse at 425 Main Street. Named after Willard H. Mase, a former state assemblyman and a noted hat manufacturer in Matteawan, this handsome brick firehouse was built in 1911 for the “Hooks,” Matteawan’s second fire company of dedicated volunteers who had organized as a ladder company back in 1887.
Hotel at 426 Main Street. This is Beacon’s oldest extant hotel building--dating back to 1877, when it was known as the Dibble Hotel, offering the best accommodations, with its 75 rooms then, in the village of Matteawan. Later it would be known as the Melzingah Hotel and the Mount Beacon Hotel. In 1926, its federal style columns would be removed for a more modern appearance.
Memorial Hall (Corner of Main and Teller Ave). Dedicated on Memorial Day of 1924,the Memorial building was built as a war memorial to Beacon’s veterans of the Spanish-American War and World War I. To help defray its original $60,000 cost, the city council leased out its auditorium to show silent films in 1925. Today, it is the center of American Legion and VFW activities, especially on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day celebrations.
For your walking enjoyment of our beautiful city, The Beacon Historical Society has put together self-guided historical walking tours. Our first tour presented is the East End of Main Street. The Middle and West End of Main street will be posted soon, as well as a Riverfront Walk and a Mountain Hike!