Vacant mansion in New York

Maple Grove, Poughkeepsie New York
Date added: January 06, 2023 Categories: New York House Mansion
Hall and library (2000)

Maple Grove was built in 1850 as the centerpiece of a 35-acre rural estate, with a long entrance drive flanked by an allee of trees, vistas toward the Hudson River, and a full complement of outbuildings that harmonized with the main residence. Maple Grove was one of a number of country estates that were developed in the 19th century along both sides of the main road leading south from the city of Poughkeepsie, including the famed Matthew Vassar estate, Springside, and Locust Grove, the property of inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. Maple Grove was originally developed for New York City merchant Charles Macy, and in 1870 it became the country seat of the Adolphus Hamilton family, who owned it until the 1980s. In 1891, the house was competently remodeled to the designs of the Providence architectural firm of William R. Walker & Son. Despite a serious fire in 1985 and a number of years of neglect, the main house retains most features from its original construction and later remodeling.

European settlement of the Poughkeepsie area began in the late 17th century and the village of Poughkeepsie became the county seat in 1717. By the late 18th century the village had grown considerably in size and importance as a port and industrial center, and farms were developed south of the village along South Road (Albany Post Road, now U.S. 9). The Hudson River Railroad connected Poughkeepsie to New York City in 1849 and Poughkeepsie was incorporated as a city in 1854. The South Road corridor in the southern part of the city and in the town of Poughkeepsie remained agricultural in character until the mid 19th century, when a number of the farms were developed into country estates by wealthy merchants from Poughkeepsie and New York City. Also, the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery was established there in 1852.

The Maple Grove property was evidently part of the John Conklin farm and was owned by Nathan Jewett by 1841. Research by the Dutchess County Landmarks Association is somewhat conflicting as to when the first buildings were constructed on the property, but it is likely that the present lower farmhouse and barn were constructed in the 1830s. Some of the research also indicates that the main house and upper barn may have been built as early as 1800, but there is no physical evidence to support this. Nathan Jewett sold the 35-acre farm to Charles A. Macy either on April 1, 1850, or February 7, 1851. The cornerstone date of 1850 on the main house at Maple Grove attests to the date Macy developed the property as a country estate.

Charles A. Macy (1807-1875) was a partner in a banking house in New York City and was connected by marriage to the Corlies family, real estate developers in the Poughkeepsie area. Poughkeepsie was easily reachable from New York City, either by boat or by the newly completed railroad, and Macy would have had the connections and resources to build an impressive rural retreat for his family. At the same time that Macy was developing Maple Grove, Andrew Jackson Downing was designing a country estate for Matthew Vassar just two properties to the north, and Alexander Jackson Davis was designing improvements for Samuel F. B. Morse's estate on the river side of South Road, a short distance to the south.

Downing may have been involved with the design of other properties on the South Road as well, but a connection to Maple Grove has not been established. A connection of A. J. Davis to Maple Grove has not been made either, but clearly the main house was designed by a very competent architect or architect-builder. Architecturally, the house is somewhat of an anomaly, but it is a superb blend of Gothic Revival and Italianate elements into a well-composed, symmetrical form, with whimsical circular windows prominently featured on the principal elevations and an elegant verandah across the front that lightens the massive size of the house. The craftsmanship of the brick, stone, and woodwork is excellent, and the siting of the house at the top of a long tree-lined entrance drive points to a skillful estate plan. While the main house dominates the property, the outbuildings are modest in size and scale and are of wood frame construction, although their decorative vergeboards and bracketed cornices blend harmoniously with the main house. An examination of some of Downing's publications and of some of Davis' designs for country houses reveal nothing quite like Maple Grove, but it relates to both of the architects' works in many of its features, such as the use of Gothic trim and bracketed cornices, the lattice porch supports, and the landscape itself, with its pastoral viewsheds and intersecting drives.

The present form of most of the landscape and buildings at Maple Grove likely dates to 1850 or shortly thereafter and it was only after 1985 that significant changes occurred. It is not known when the property became known as Maple Grove, it may have been called that since 1850, but it has been known by that name since at least 1891. The following text from a draft cultural resources report prepared by Diane Levitt details the ownership of Maple Grove by its second and last private owner:

In 1870 Adolphus Hamilton, a merchant banker from New York, purchased Maple Grove. Prior to this purchase, Hamilton had gone from New York to New Orleans, thence to Germany with his family during the Civil War. After the war, he returned to New York, buying Maple Grove a few years later. According to remarks made by a descendent, John Kinkead, in a personal interview, Hamilton did not work in Poughkeepsie, but rather kept his ties to banking in New York. He bought this Poughkeepsie property in a year of a great local boom. The city was developing rapidly, and had great public works and transportation systems to offer.

The Hamiltons had two daughters, who eventually married two brothers. Henry Kinkead was a banker from Lexington, Kentucky. He married one of the Hamilton sisters, had two daughters named Elise and Jennie, and moved to Poughkeepsie in 1908, when Elise was 14 years old. According to Elise Kinkead's recollections (as related by Gretchen Rendes, who worked for Ms. Kinkead for over 30 years and whose husband Stephen was the head caretaker of Maple Grove), he worked for the Farmer's Bank in Poughkeepsie and daily rode the trolley to work.

His brother, John Kinkead had an ill-fated life. His first wife was a Dodge (related to the local Livingston and Crooke families). She delivered two children, Cornelia and George, but died in childbirth for the second. John remarried, taking his brother's wife's sister for his bride. They had no children. In 1908, John, then living at Maple Grove, was helping his brother Henry move to Poughkeepsie from Kentucky. He had just purchased the Southwood estate, just southwest of Maple Grove and across the Albany Post Road. John Kinkead was stung by a bee during the move and died, leaving a widow with two stepchildren.

The widow continued to dwell at Maple Grove with her stepfamily. She kept the farm operation going, and saw the need to gain access to Beechwood Avenue. She therefore purchased the original Thompson "Wilderness Estate," which gave her, besides the desired access, a late 19th century French Second Empire structure and several additional acres of land. The present St. Simeon complex is on former Wilderness property. This can be seen from the 1891 Watson Atlas of the Hudson Valley.

When Mrs. John Kinkead died, the farm went to her step-children, Cornelia and George, for life. Upon their death's in the 1950s, all the property went to Elise and Jennie Kinkead. George and Cornelia were the last full-time occupants of Maple Grove; Elise and Jennie lived at Southwood, but maintained Maple Grove as a farm until the 1980s.

By this time, the farming operation no longer sustained the estate, but it was continued for tax shelter purposes. Most of the family's herd of Jersey cattle were located at another property, a farm on Noxon Road, but heifers were allowed to graze at Maple Grove before they joined the rest of the herd.

In the 1950s the Route 9 corridor was widened. The capped stone wall at the west end of the property was eliminated, and the farmer's cottage was moved east to its present site. The pillars were also moved to the new entrance gate of the property. At this time, the farmer's cottage was placed on a new cinder block foundation, as was the Rendes' cottage behind the main house. This latter structure was moved only several yards from its previous site. It had originally been the tool shed, and had suffered early fire damage. The new foundation was needed to render it suitable as a dwelling.

The Kinkead sisters would use the Maple Grove house for daily dining and for accommodating guests. Meals were provided in the dining room each afternoon by the Rendes. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the gardens were gradually allowed to fall into disrepair that marks their current condition. Maintenance on both estates was cut back noticeably and the buildings deteriorated.

Further research has shown that Adolphus Hamilton died in 1882, and that Maple Grove was inherited by his daughter (name currently unknown) and her husband John Kinkead. The Kinkeads undertook a substantial remodeling of the main house in 1891, significantly altering the first floor of the main block and updating the mechanical systems, while sensitively retaining most of the original features. The Kinkeads hired the firm of William R. Walker & Son of Providence, Rhode Island to do the renovation. This father and son firm was well known in Providence, designing numerous public buildings and churches in the area. How they became known to the Kinkeads is not known, but the firm designed a Georgian Revival house for John Kinkead's brother Henry in Lexington, Kentucky at about the same time and both that house and the Maple Grove renovations were published in a portfolio of the firm's designs in 1895. The renovation included the replacement of all of the primary window sash on the house, the relocation of the front door, the creation of a grand staircase and library in the Colonial Revival style, a larger front parlor with embellished woodwork, new varnished wood floors, a picture window and paneled woodwork in the dining room, a large window on the rear elevation to light the new staircase, and up-to-date plumbing and heating systems.

In 1970, the first of three senior apartment complexes was built at the rear of Maple Grove, on the former "Wilderness Property." In 1985, a fire severely damaged the kitchen wing and the roof structure of the south wing and main block of the house and, subsequently the roof was rebuilt and temporary repairs were made. In 1988, Elise Kinkead willed Maple Grove to the St. Simeon Foundation, which since that time has built two more sections of multi-unit senior housing on the property. Her estate also negotiated an easement to be held by the Dutchess Land Conservancy, protecting the viewsheds of the main house from further development. The Foundation has rehabilitated the upper barn and carriage house for use as maintenance facilities, the lower farmhouse is rented out, and the caretaker's house is still occupied by Mrs. Rendes, who has life tenancy; however, a use for the house has yet to be found. A committee composed of the Foundation and the preservation community has been formed to rehabilitate and find an appropriate long-term use for the main house.

Building Description

Maple Grove, a classic mid 19th century Hudson River villa built in 1850, is located on a 35-acre property on the east side of U.S. 9 in the Town of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York. The east end and southeast side of the property has been developed with multiple units of senior citizen housing. The western portion of the property, which contains the historic buildings of Maple Grove and the primary portion of its historic landscape, remains undeveloped, although somewhat overgrown. Across the limited access, four-lane Route 9 to the west, is the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, an important mid-19th century designed landscape. The north side of the Maple Grove property borders the city line of the City of Poughkeepsie and a residential subdivision. Just to the north of that is the remaining landscape features and buildings of Springside, the Matthew Vassar House. On the south side is another residential subdivision. Just south of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery is Locust Grove, the Samuel F. B. Morse House.

The former farm estate of Maple Grove, is a long, narrow rectangular property that rises about 100 feet in height from west to east, with the main residence at a high point facing west, once having grand views of the Hudson River. The entrance road, still dirt, leads in from U.S. 9 (the Albany Post Road) and is flanked by two sandstone gateposts that appear to date to c. 1850. They were moved slightly back from their original location when Route 9 was widened in the mid 20th century. The road enters the property and turns slightly north. Off to the north is a short driveway leading to the lower farmhouse and lower cow barn. The barn is unused and its surroundings highly overgrown. The road then turns toward the east and runs in a straight line up the gentle rise toward the main house, through an allee of mature maple trees flanked by open overgrown fields. At about 150 feet from the house, the road stops, intersecting a modern single-lane paved road that encircles the eastern half of the property. It is in a different configuration than the drive that originally encircled the house and connected the various secondary buildings. The paved road runs north-south and is routed one way, connecting the three complexes of senior housing and running past the historic outbuildings on the north side of the house. The house is surrounded by mature coniferous and deciduous trees. At the rear of the house are two small houses, three outbuildings, the foundation of a greenhouse, and remnants of the drives that encircled the house and grounds.

The main house at Maple Grove is constructed of red brick laid in running bond and rests on a low sandstone foundation. The house combines elements of the Gothic Revival and Italianate styles. It appears to have always been painted, and the present pale yellow color with white trim has been used on all of the buildings on the property for many years. Symmetrically composed, it has a two-and-one-half story, three-bay wide main block flanked by two-story, three-bay wide wings on the north and south sides. A large two-story kitchen wing extends from the southernmost bay of the rear elevation of the main block and the northernmost bay of the rear of the south wing.

The main block has a cross-gabled roof with four tall brick chimneys and a deep bracketed cornice. The wings are recessed from the main block and have gable roofs parallel to the main facade. The sandstone foundation is composed of tooled rectangular blocks and a smooth-cut watercourse. At the front corner of the north wing, one of the blocks is inscribed with the date 1850. The wings each have one inside-end brick chimney and the same deep bracketed cornice as the main block. All of the brackets are recent replacements of the original brackets, which were in deteriorated condition. The roof itself (and some of the roof structure) was also recently replaced and has asphalt shingles. A prominent one-story open wood porch extends across the main block beyond the side elevations, turns back toward the wings and extends across three-quarters of the front of each wing. It has a standing-seam metal roof with a distinctive concave curve and elaborate Gothic ornamentation, with quatrefoils forming lattice panels, and trefoils dropping from the cornice. Wood steps lead up to the central bay of the porch and from the side of each wing. Most of the window and door openings have carved sandstone Gothic drip-mold lintels and original louvered exterior blinds. The wings have unusual circular windows on the second story with simple brick surrounds and casement sashes consisting of a circular central pane surrounded by radiating panes. There are also single circular windows in the attic stories on the front and back gable of the main block and on the gable ends of the wings. The house retains most of its original exterior features from the time of its construction, along with a number of important changes when it was remodeled in 1891; however, a fire in 1985 destroyed the original porch on the south side of the kitchen wing and severely damaged the wing, along with the roof structure of the main block.

The main block originally had a central entrance closely flanked by narrow windows. In 1891, the entrance, along with its sandstone lintel, was moved about four feet to the north and the narrow window on the north was moved to where the entrance was located, creating an awkward asymmetrical composition. The window openings on the main block and the first story of the wings are very large and originally contained paired sashes, either casements or double-hung. In 1891, the sashes were replaced with full-width double-hung sashes with multiple panes in the upper sash and two panes in the lower sash. The front of the wings each have one large window on the first story. The south elevation of the south wing originally had three windows on the first story. One remains, while the other two were replaced in 1891 by a single large window. There are three rectangular windows on the second story. The north elevation of the north wing has a large oriel window on the first story with full-height casement sashes. The rear elevation of the north wing has the same openings as on the front. The rear of the main block has a door and window on the first story and three windows on the second story. The window over the door is a large three-part window, with an elliptical sash across the top. It was installed in 1891 to light the new stair hall. The rear wing also has a gable roof and bracketed cornice, but simpler ornamentation than the main block. At some point, probably in 1891, it was extended several feet to the rear. The south wall of the rear wing was rebuilt after the fire and the windows have been replaced with temporary modern sash.

The interior of the main house is mainly intact from the original construction, although the main block was extensively remodeled in 1891. The fire in 1985 gutted the interior of the kitchen wing and recent vandalism has also taken its toll on the interior. Late Greek Revival woodwork, with eared window and door surrounds, remains on much of the first story, with simpler woodwork on the second story. The house originally had a central hall and probably a symmetrical arrangement of rooms. In 1891, the front hall was shifted to the north, creating a larger parlor in the front of the main block and a grand stair hall-library space across the rear of the main block. These spaces are elaborately decorated with Colonial Revival woodwork and plasterwork. Double doors lead in from a foyer at the front of the house, through an archway into the stair hall- library. The stairs begin with three steps flanked by columns and lead to a large platform with balcony, then up to the second floor in four runs. The walls of the staircase have paneled wainscoting. The balcony faces south to a carved wood mantelpiece flanked by bookshelves. The newel posts at each landing are finely turned, with finials, and the railings are supported by slender turned balusters. The front parlor has a curved north wall and its original late Greek Revival woodwork that was embellished with Georgian features in 1891. The wood mantelpiece also dates to 1891. A small parlor or sitting room on the north side of the hall retains its original woodwork and Italianate marble mantelpiece. The large parlor in the north wing also retains its 1850 appearance, with late Greek Revival woodwork, a white Italianate marble mantelpiece, plaster cornice, and c. 1870 gilt overmantel mirror. The dining room, in the south wing, was completely remodeled in 1891, with dark-stained woodwork and an elaborately carved corner mantelpiece.

As stated earlier, the kitchen wing was gutted by the fire and remains so. It originally contained kitchen and pantry areas and a staircase to the second floor. The second floor has a large central hall that appears to have been somewhat enlarged by the 1891 remodeling. Otherwise, rooms and woodwork appear to date to the original construction, with the exception of bathrooms, likely installed in 1891. In the second-floor hall ceiling is a large, off-center opening in the ceiling. Probably in the center of the hall as originally configured, this opening likely once let light in through a skylight in the roof.

The other buildings, structures, and sites on the property are as follows:

Upper farmhouse: c. 1850
Two-and-one-half stories, wood frame, with a gable roof, Gothic trim, Colonial Revival porch, three-part window on second story.

Caretaker's residence: c. 1850, with later modifications
One-and-one-half stories, wood frame, with a gable roof, Gothic trim, three-part window in front gable. This was supposedly originally an outbuilding that was later converted into a house.

Upper barn: c. 1850
Two stories, wood frame, gable roof, late Greek Revival trim.

Carriage barn: c. 1850
Two stories, wood frame, gable roof, late Greek Revival trim.

Garage: date unknown, c. 1850
One story, wood frame, hinged doors. This was probably a small outbuilding that was later converted to a garage.

Lower farmhouse: c. 1830
One-and-one-half story, wood frame, gable roof, later Gothic trim, three bays. This house likely predates the estate development. It was moved further back from U.S. 9 c. 1950's, when the highway was widened.

Lower barn: c. 1830
Stone foundation, gable roof, clapboard and board-and-batten siding. This barn also likely predates the estate development.

Greenhouse ruins, date unknown (late 19th century?)
Brick base of a large greenhouse.