05-TownSeal.tif (684626 bytes)         Town of Rhinebeck

                                of Your Rhinebeck House


Learn about the date, style, and history of your house in Rhinebeckframing (792 bytes)

Nancy V. Kelly, Town Historian

Town of Rhinebeck
80 E. Market Street
Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Phone: 845-876-4592      Email: [email protected]

National Register         Oral History       Detailed Maps     Deeds & Title Abstract         Wills       Other Sources     Architectural Style     Structure & Materials                                                                                                                                                                              Further Resources      

                WildercliffHABS.gif (11535 bytes)            Wildercliff 1799, gambrel roof Colonial       

BL00098_.wmf (1012 bytes)

    Greek Revival 1815-1840


Delamat1.tif (101482 bytes)1844 Delamater House, Gothic Revival

   WILDERSTEIN.GIF (3163 bytes)Wilderstein, 1888
Queen Anne Style

Castleton1921.gif (24161 bytes)1921 “Castleton” Sears Kit

Steps to Discovery

1. National Register        2. Oral History        3.Detailed Maps         4.Deeds         5.Wills    6.Other Sources     7. Architectural Style    8.Structure & Materials

Follow the steps outlined in this brochure to learn about the history of your house. Resources and contact information are listed on the last page.Knowledge of house history offers many advantages.

You may learn who built the house, when it was built, the style of the house, what it looked like originally and changes which have been made.Rhinebeck has a rich history. Your house shares that history. Research tools are now available which can assist you in learning about the house. Let the walls speak to you!

1. National Register

Many homes in Rhinebeck are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places via the 16 Mile Historic District, the Rhinebeck Village District, and the Multi-Resource District or as individual listings. Consult the National Register website, (www.cr.nps.gov/nr/ ) The properties and description may be found at the Starr Library or Quitman Resource Center.

2. Oral History

Obtain as much information as possible from the former owner, his family members or long time neighbors. They may be able to provide photographs or other useful information about how the property was used and developed. However, be sure to continue your search. Sometimes oral history may become distorted.

3. Study Detailed Maps

Nineteenth Century maps of Rhinebeck show house locations and names of owners. Identifying your house on these maps will enable you to determine owners and the period when your house appeared on the map. Consult the following:

4. Deed Search & Property Title Abstract

Read through your deed to the property note the earliest owner and should also give a book and page number where an earlier deed is filed. If you obtained title insurance chain of title may be available from the title insurance company or the lawyer who handled the sale of the house.

You may conduct deed research on the second floor at theDutchess County Clerk’s Office, 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie . Grantee (buyer) and Grantor (seller) indexes are located next to each other in the first aisle. Follow instructions at the beginning of the book to use the index. Refer to the Liber (book) and page number to find the full deed. The earliest books are located in the same aisle. Using the grantor’s name, you can trace back in time. Find when that individual was a grantee and if a book and page are cited. Study deeds to discover mention of a building on the property or a recital of the chain of title.

5. Wills & Estate Records

Further information, inventories of personal property and auction listing may be found in estate papers. These are located in the Dutchess County Court House in the Probate Court’s office. Consult the will probate index for box numbers to see if a file exists for the probate. Use Dutchess County Probate Records 1773-1865, by Arthur CM Kelly at Starr Library. You may also use death dates to locate obituary information in the Rhinebeck Gazette microfilm at the Starr Library.

Much of Rhinebeck was originally deeded to Henry Beekman in 1697 and 1703. He retained the title to most of his property for his heirs and provided lease arrangements for the occupants of the property. In some cases, this means that deeds were not recorded for these properties until late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Occasionally it is possible to trace leases through archival information.

6. Other Sources

Maps showing large areas of Rhinebeck with the leased properties are available:


Additional information is available from Rent Books kept by Beekman and his successors. Check with the Town Historian for information about these books. Properties, 1833- 1917, in the south part of the town, deeded by Mrs. Olin Mills are listed in a rent book at Adriance Library, Poughkeepsie, microfilm 0929819.

Sanborn Maps of the village of Rhinebeck and the hamlet of Rhinecliff were prepared periodically. These were specifically for insurance purposes and give detailed information about types of materials, additions, porches, etc. They are available for the years 1867-1942 at the Library of Congress and at the Museum of Rhinebeck History

Important photograph collections showing many of the historic houses in Rhinebeck are catalogued by the Consortium of Rhinebeck History. Consult the Rhinebeck Historical Society, the Museum of Rhinebeck History and the DAR. Postcard collections may also be useful.

Census information including Federal Census 1790-1930 and State Census 1865+ provide value of property, type of dwelling and agricultural information. Indexes are available and census on microfilm may be viewed at the Starr Library.

7. Determine the Architectural Style

The architectural style will help you to determine the period when the house was built. Be sure to consider changes which may have occurred due to additions and remodeling. Books such as Identifying American Architecture by J. Blumenson, American Architecture Since 1780 by Marcus Whiffen and What Style is It? by Poppeliers, Chambers, and Schwartz are useful. Consult Marilyn Hatch, Quitman Resource Center for Preservation, Warren T. Smith of the Rhinebeck Historical Society and Alan Neumann of Hudson River Heritage.

The Old House Journal, gives the following dates for selected styles typical of Rhinebeck: Colonial 1700-1760- (In Rhinebeck this period extended later and included stone or frame houses with post and beam construction. Kitchens were often originally in the basement.) Federal-1780-1820, Greek Revival 1815-1840, Gothic Revival 1835-1880, Italianate 1845-1885, and Queen Anne 1875-1900,

Many houses built during the 1920’s were kits, ordered from Sears. Refer to the Sears website,
www.searsmodernhomes.com if you would like to try to identify the model. Dover Publications has reprinted a 1926 catalog of Sears homes and several books are available on the subject.

8. Read the Structure

Elements of the structure such as timbers, framing methods, hardware and nails can offer useful clues about the period when the building was constructed
Refer to the book below for detailed suggestions. The Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture organization can also provide information for eighteenth century structures. Another site is

Obrien.tif (102146 bytes)1875 O’Brien House, Second Empire


Rhinebeck Histories may be purchased locally or at: www.kinshipny.com


DAR, PO Box 88 Livingston St., Rhinebeck 12572

Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture PO Box 202, West Hurley, NY 12491

Hudson River Heritage PO Box 287 Rhinebeck 845/876-474 www.hudsonriverheritage.org

Quitman Resource Center–PO Box 624 , Route 9 North, Rhinebeck, NY   845/871-1798

Rhinebeck Historical Society, 291 PO Box, Rhinebeck, NY 12472  845/876-7341

Museum of Rhinebeck History, 618 PO Box Rhinebeck, NY 12572  845/871-1798


Starr Library, 66W. Market St. Rhinebeck, NY 12672,   845/876-4030

Preservation Information Websites

Old House Journal www.oldhousejournal.com

Preservation League of New York State www .pservenys.org