The Patterson Historic District 1

Introduction

The historic district is located along NYS Route 311 in the Patterson Hamlet, and extends west to Cushman Road in Towners. The historic sites on Route 311 include the Patterson Presbyterian Church, the Fellowship Hall, Christ Episcopal Church, the Maple Avenue Cemetery, the Grange Hall, and the War Memorial. The Patterson Baptist Church is located farther west on Route 311 near Cushman Road. The Little Red Schoolhouse is on South Street, on the grounds of the Carmel Central School District offices.

Patterson Presbyterian Church

This beautiful church is the third church of the Presbyterian Congregation in Patterson. The first, often referred to as "The Old Meeting House," was located west of here, on the top of the hill, north of the Triangle Inn Corner (intersection of NYS Routes 292 and 311). It was established by tenants on Phillipse land, settlers from Connecticut, and is probably the meetinghouse referred to in the description of the Prendergast Rebellion of 1766 in Pelletreu's History of Putnam County. The second building was begun in 1794 on the land purchased by the trustees of the church from Thomas Townsend in 1793. This purchase included one acre south of the road, where the present Fellowship Hall and the Grange Hall are located, and a quarter acre adjacent to and north of the Episcopal cemetery. Additional land was obtained at that time from Stiles Peet and his wife, Lydia, on which the present building would be located. Matthew Paterson was an Elder of the church and Colonel Henry Ludington was a Trustee. The Colonel and his daughter, Sybil, are buried in the Churchyard.

Main Street (NYS Route 311) was a narrow dirt road when this undated postcard photo was taken. The Patterson Presbyterian Church is the white structure in the upper right. The land to the right of the Church appears to be farmland, and is now the site of a small shopping center. The Presbyterian Church as it appeared in a 1907 postcard. The postcard was published by J. .E. Carey, Confectionery, which was located on Railroad Street (Front Street). The postcard was manufactured in Germany The Presbyterian Church as it appeared in a 1911 postcard. The Presbyterian Church as it appears today. Many of the old trees still survive.

This second building, which was finally completed in 1808, was demolished in 1838 when the present building was erected in a period of growth and optimism. Reverend Epinetus P. Benedict, the minister of the church at this time, served for forty years during a period of great changes to the town. Born in Connecticut, he worked and married in the South before he became pastor of this congregation in 1827. His influence on the church and his southern sympathies can be seen both in the design of the church building, which is unusual for this area (and more typical of the South), and in that there is no mention in the Session records of anything to do with the Civil War, although his son, Platt Benedict, served as a Union Officer.

Additions have been made to the building since 1838 including one bay and the beautiful and rare hung wooden ceiling. The church bell and yoke was purchased and installed in 1846 and the apse was added on the rear around 1868. The organ pipes, which were installed round 1900, were removed in the 1950's.

Perhaps the best-known pastor of the Church was the Rev. Horace E. Hillery, who was pastor from 1923 until 1951. Hillery also served as chairman of the Putnam County Welfare District during the Great Depression of the early 20th century, and in the early 1950s he was appointed Putnam County Historian.

A few months after Hillery's retirement, the Church congregation welcomed the Rev. Ormond L. Hampton to lead them. Hampton received a salary of $3,500, a $300 car allowance, four weeks vacation, and free use of the Manse. Hampton graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in June, 1953, and assumed his duties in Patterson shortly thereafter.

A 1960 photo of Pastor George Beimler and his wife Ruth Claire, daughter Laurie and son Gregg. The Rev. Beimler served the Patterson community from 1956 to 1962. Beimler came to Patterson from the First Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon, New York where he had served as Assistant Pastor under the Rev. Mel Joachim. Beimler met his wife during his stay in Mount Vernon and they were married on April 28, 1956. The Beimler family left Patterson in 1962 for Liberty, New York where he served at the First Presbyterian Church of Liberty until 1978. In 1978 Beimler was recruited by the First Presbyterian Church in Plano, Texas. He died in a tragic car accident there on January 14, 1983.

Mrs. Beimler was born in June 1925 in Mount Vernon. During World War II she was a Junior League Volunteer at Mount Vernon Hospital. She also taught Sunday School at the First Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon and was active in the First Presbyterian Churches in Patterson, Liberty, and Plano. She was fond of dachshunds and was said to have raised five generations of them. Ruth Claire Beimler died in October, 2004 in Roscoe, New York at the age of 79.

On June 26, 1960, Robert Buxbaum was ordained at the Patterson Presbyterian Church. Robert was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Buxbaum of Cornwall Hill Road in Patterson, who were the owners of Phil's Service Station, Phil's Appliance Center, and Phil's Auto Sales, which were located on Front Street in Patterson and on NYS Route 22 in Pawling. Robert was the first member of the Patterson parish to be ordained in nearly 100 years. According to Church records, the last Patterson members to be ordained were the Rev. Oliver S. Dean and his brother William. Both served the Westchester Presbytery in Yorktown in 1862. The Rev. William Dean died at an early age in Tuscon, Arizona. The Rev. Oliver S. Dean was born in Patterson in 1835, and graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1863. He first pastorate was in his mother's hometown of Roxbury, Connecticut. In January, 1893, he returned to Patterson and assumed the pastorate of the Patterson Presbyterian Church. He served there until his retirement on July 1, 1909.

A new manse was built for the pastor and his wife, the Rev. and Mrs. John F. Millar in December, 1963. Land for the home was donated in the memory of Mrs. Carrie W. Van Ness Kelly by her sons and daughters. The property was located on the Towners Road, which is now known as NYS Route 164. Carmel building contractor Carl Paulson was in charge of the construction project. The house contained eight rooms with four bedrooms and two baths. The basement playroom was expected to be used by the Senior High Youth Group and for other church functions. The Millars hosted an open house in January, 1964. The Rev. Millar served the church until 1966.

In 1966, the Rev. James B. M. Frost became pastor, and would serve until his retirement in April, 1990. In 1970, the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Putnam Lake began to use the Presbyterian Church buildings for church services and religious education programs. The Patterson hamlet area was originally part of St. John's parish in Pawling, but an agreement between the pastors of St. John's and Sacred Heart in the 1960s placed all of Patterson within the Sacred Heart parish. In 1970, the growing number of Catholics in the hamlet area created a need for a satellite church in the hamlet. Arrangements were made with the Christ Episcopal Church to use the church for Sunday masses and religious education programs, but more space was needed. Rev. Frost offered the use of the Presbyterian Church buildings, and, for the next twenty years, Catholic masses and religious programs were held in the Presbyterian Church and Fellowship Hall. Programs included a joint, interfaith weekly Bible study class, and joint prayer meetings. A shortage of priests at Sacred Heart eventually brought a halt to the joint programs and the sharing of the buildings.

The Rev. Frost and the Presbyterian Church had a brief moment of fame in 1969 when a Hollywood movie production company decided to use Patterson in a scene from the movie, The Kremlin Letter. The movie was based on a spy novel by author Noel Behn, and was a product of the Cold War environment of the 1960s. The story line involved a group of American agents on a mission to the Soviet Union to retrieve a letter implicating the United States in a plot against China. The movie cast included several well-known actors, including Richard Boone, Orson Wells, Patrick O'Neal, Barbara Parkins, Max von Sydow, George Sanders, and Bibi Andersson. The film was released by 20th Century Fox Studios in 1970, and was directed by John Huston.

In 1969, Fox officials flew over the Hudson Valley looking for a church that was built in a Southern Grecian style, for a scene that was to have taken place in the southeastern United States. A low flying airplane was seen flying over the Patterson area, as the movie production crew scouted the area. Only the Dover Plains Baptist Church and the Patterson Presbyterian Church had the desired architectural look. A Fox studio representative visited Rev. Frost and informed him of the movie project and the interest in using the Church in a scene for the movie. Some time later, Rev. Frost was informed by phone that Fox had chosen to use the Dover church, and that women from the Dover church had been hired to prepare meals for the film crew. A film crew eventually arrived, but not in Dover. Patterson learned it had been selected for the movie scene when several hundred movie crewmembers, actors, and extras arrived at the Patterson Presbyterian Church early one morning. A local resident alerted Rev. Frost about the commotion, and he hurried to the church. The agitated film crew criticized Rev. Frost for not having prepared the church for the day's filming, and informed him that his inaction had cost Fox a great deal of money because of the delay in the start of the filming. An angry Rev. Frost ordered everyone off church property and threatened to call the police. Apparently, Dr. Frost was never informed of the decision to use the Presbyterian Church, and was never given contracts and release forms. Two hours later, a studio executive from New York City arrived via limousine, and presented Rev. Frost with the contracts, release forms - and apologies. The Church was paid a $500 fee for one day of filming, and Rev. Frost was paid $300 to act as a "theological consultant" to director Huston. Rev. Frost would also appear briefly in two scenes from the movie.

The official poster for the film, "The Kremlin Letter". Patterson residents gather to watch the film crew at work on Front Street. On the left, workman change the name of the rairoad station from "Patterson" to "Gethsemane". Actor Richard Boone chats with Patterson residents Lillian Van Keuren, Mrs. John Covell, Mrs. Robert Smith, and Mrs. Francis Wathley. Lois Ann Covell is in the foreground. Actor Patrick O'Neal steps off a train in the first scene from the movie to be filmed in Patterson.
Actor Patrick O'Neal waits as workman install a "Gethsemane" sign. In this scene from the "Kremlin Letter", O'Neal enters the Patterson Presbyterian Church for a funeral. The Church was named the "Gethsemane Baptist Church" in the movie. Area funeral directors served as pallbearers in the funeral scene. Timothy and Robert Dwyer, of the Dwyer Funeral Home on South Street in Patterson, stand to the right of the "Gethsemane Baptist Church" sign. John Dorset of Pattterson is next, and the Rev. James Frost, pastor of the Patterson Presbyterian Church, is at the extreme right. Actor Dean Jaeger, second from the left, receives direction from director John Huston, who is behind the camera.
All photos were published in the June 12, 1969 edition of the Pawling News-Chronicle.

When the film was released, Patterson residents would discover that their town was called "Gethsemane", and the Patterson Presbyterian Church was portrayed as the "Gethsemane Baptist Church". A mock funeral was filmed on the grounds of the church, and actor Dean Jaeger, portraying a Baptist minister, used Rev. Frost's Book of Common Prayer in the scene. Forty extras, including many Patterson residents, appeared in the funeral scene. Six pallbearers were shown in the scene, and were local funeral home workers from Patterson, Brewster, and Dover Plains. One of the more amusing incidents from the day's filming involved a short scene that showed Rev. Frost opening the doors of the church. The scene needed to be re-shot several times because the actor in the scene was drunk and could not perform his lines. The actor and other film crewmembers apparently had joined some Patterson residents for a liquid lunch at One Buck's Tavern on NYS Route 311, not far from the Presbyterian Church. Other Patterson residents remember actor O'Neal chatting with a young actress under the shade of a large oak tree just west of the church, unaware that they were sitting in a patch of poison ivy. Members of the film crew were permitted to use the church office and telephone, under the condition that they would use charge long distance telephone calls to studio credit cards. Church officials were shocked to receive a phone bill for over $400, with charges for calls to such places as Italy and Finland, where other scenes from the movie had been filmed. It took several months for the church to receive payment for the calls from Fox.

The Kremlin Letter was a failure at the box office. The movie was considered too complicated and too boring to hold the interest of the average moviegoer. Rev. Frost, in his 1993 history of the Patterson Presbyterian Church, notes that he did not see the film until it appeared on television five years after its theatrical release. He stated that the movie was so boring that he almost turned off the television, but waited to see the scene shot in Patterson. Unfortunately for him, the Patterson scene was one of the closing scenes of the movie.

The Parish House (Fellowship Hall)

Originally called "The Parish House", The Fellowship Hall was given to the Presbyterian Church by the Paterson Family between 1868 and 1877 while the Reverend James Baird was minister. It was built on part of the land that had been purchased by the trustees from Thomas Townsend and his wife in 1793. That purchase included a quarter of an acre on the north side of the road (NYS Route 311) where a Meeting House was built, and an acre on the south side, part of which was still unused. The Putnam County map of 1867 shows the District School building (now the Grange Hall) in its present location, but no building on this site yet.

The Friendship Hall has undergone more changes and additions to its original structure than any of the other buildings in the District. The kitchen, three rooms, bathrooms and the stage were added in 1929 and two more classrooms were added and the siding was renovated again between 1956 and 1962. A more recent extensive renovation was carried out by the present Session, with the help and support of the community and volunteers.

One of the first Boy Scout troops in the area met here between 1910 and 1913 and many theatrical performances were given between 1924 and 1951, directed by Mrs. Horace Hillery when her husband was minister. Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, located in Putnam Lake, shared the building from 1970 to 1990, holding CCD classes and other activities here. In addition to Session meetings, church suppers, the Sunday school and, occasionally a service, the building is now used regularly by many outside groups including Alcoholics Anonymous and The Hudson Valley Folk Guild. It is often available and often used for theatrical and musical performances, lectures, wedding receptions and dinners.

This building has always been and continues to be a beloved and well-used resource to both the Church and the community. The Parish House is located just east of the Grange Hall on NYS Route 311.

The Fellowship Hall served as a Methodist Chapel for a time, but the time period is unclear. A newspaper legal notice printed in 1929 shows the Chapel on a list of tax-exempt property in Patterson. The steeples have been removed from the Fellowship Hall and the Grange. The Fellowship Hall, owned by the Patterson Presbyterian Church.

Christ Episcopal Church

Christ Church was organized as the "Episcopal Mission at Fredricksburgh" by three former English officers who settled in the area after the end of the French and Indian wars. Although the present building is the newest in the District, the site itself has been occupied since 1763, when the land on which the original log structure and the burying ground were located was set aside by Beverly Robinson and his wife Susanah from their part of the Philipse Patent.

The Episcopal Church in the Colonies was managed from England and was involved in the politics of the colonial government. Tory groups naturally gathered around the Episcopal clergy. As a result, the original church, while still standing in 1778, was closed during the Revolution. It is reported that it was used as an armory, guarded by the local militia under the command of Colonel Henry Ludington, because it was strategically located on the main road that ran from New England to the Hudson.

In 1782, Beverly Robinson's lands were taken by the State and sold, but this site was held back from the sale and kept for the Church and a cemetery. The Church was incorporated under New York law in 1797. Matthew Paterson, then judge of the Dutchess County Court of Common Pleas, signed the papers.

The Christ Episcopal Church in an undated postcard. The photo shows the front view of the church that was built in 1902 and destroyed by fire in 1911. Another view of the 1902 Christ Episcopal Church in a postcard with a 1908 postmark. The postcard was hand colored, and the colors may not be accurate. A rare view of the interior of the 1902 Christ Episcopal Church. (Patterson HNistorical Society) The Episcopal Church as it appears today.

The congregation of Christ Church has worshipped in several different buildings on this site. The original church was taken down and replaced in 1814. In 1835 the congregation voted to replace that with a newer one, and Trinity Church in New York donated almost 75% of the cost of a colonial style building that remained in use for 67 years. In 1902 it was torn down and replaced by a more modern structure given in memory of the mother of Mrs. James Cornwall. The new church was consecrated in October, 1902.

In February 1911, it burned to the ground. Nothing was saved. The loss to the congregation was great, but they were determined to rebuild within the year and with the help of many, both within and outside the congregation (including the Presbyterian Church and the Grange), they did. The present building was dedicated on December 21, 1911.

A view of the Patterson Presbyterian Church and the Christ Episcopal Church from a postcard with a 1910 postmark. The Presbyterian Church was painted red with black trim according to this postcard. The color scheme, however, may not be correct because color postcards of that time were hand colored and the coloring was not always accurate. The view is west on Main Street (NYS Route 311). (Brian Benedict) The two Churches in two undated postcards. The Presbyterian Church is painted white in these photos. (Brian Benedict) The third picture of the two churches is a very good view of the 1902 Episcopal Church. The picture is from a postcard produced by Patterson's Harrie M. Wright. The Sunday church service schedule from the January 7, 1898 edition of the Putnam County Courier.

In April, 1955, the Diocese purchased the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence M. Scaperotta for use as a parish house. The property was located across from the church building. The Christ Church intended to remodel the house to create an apartment for the rector, and to provide space to be used for church school and social functions.

Paul Townsend celebrated his fiftieth anniversary as organist for the Christ Episcopal Church, and was honored at a special service on May 21, 1961. On Sunday, November 22, 1970, 125 friends and parish members gathered at the Church to celebrate Townsend's sixtieth anniversary as organist. The Rector of Christ Church, the Rev. Ralph Bonacker, presided at the special service, assisted by the Rev. Albert Mason of New York City. Townsend supplemented the hymns with his own compositions, including his Missa Brevis in G Major, and his Festival Motet. Mrs. Raymond S. Jones of the Patterson Presbyterian Church was the soloist. Representatives of many area churches and synagogues attended, and guests traveled from Pawling, Dover Plains, Brewster, Pleasantville, Shrub Oak, Poughkeepsie, Highland, New York City, Danbury, and Boston. Don Wilson, organist of St. Luke's Church in Somers, Mrs. James Tammer, organist for the Pawling Methodist Church, and Agnes Hyatt, organist for more than fifty years at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, also attended. After the church service, a reception was held in the Grange Hall.

Paul Townsend is honored on the occasion of his 60th anniversary as organist for the Christ Church. Pictured from left to right are Mrs. Townsend, Paul Townsend, and Christ Church Rector, the Rev. Ralph Bonacker. The photo appeared in the December 3, 1970 edition of the Putnam County Courier. Townsend was the son of Irving S. Townsend, who co-owned the Pendleton & Townsend Sash and Blind factory in Patterson. Paul Townsend resided in Patterson on Main Street (NYS Route 311) at the Croton River. Paul Townsend worked as an accountant for his father's business.

In August, 1970, the parish announced plans to celebrate the bicentennial of Christ Church during the fall of 1970. Special events were organized to celebrate the occasion. A bicentennial dinner dance was held on October 2 at the Holiday Hills YMCA in Pawling. The Right Rev. Horace W. B. Donegan, bishop of the New York Diocese, was the guest of honor. An anniversary service of thanksgiving was scheduled for November 1, with the Right Rev. Stuart Wetmore, Suffragan Bishop, officiating. Two special concerts were also scheduled, one featuring the Choir of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Green Haven, New York, on September 20, and The choir of the United Methodist Church In Danbury, Connecticut, directed by Patterson resident Ernestine Holmes, set for October. Members of the parish also organized a photo display on the history of the Church, and another display featured historic memorabilia. The entire Patterson community was invited to attend the events.

The Patterson Baptist Church (The Rock Church)

The following material was adapted from notes compiled by Reverend James B.M. Frost, March 1993:

William Pelletreau's History of Putnam County, written in the 1880's indicates that about a half mile from the Triangle Inn Corner, there was an "...ancient burying ground, the surface of which is thickly studded with rough stones which mark graves...the oldest burying ground in the town." Triangle Corner, now the intersection of NYS Routes 311 and 292, was the original center of the Patterson village before the coming of the Harlem Railroad, which caused the village to move and cluster around the railroad depot.

A Baptist meetinghouse is shown at that location on Erskin's military map of 1780, on the north side of the road from Patterson to Carmel (now NYS Route 311), about a half mile west of where Mill Brook crosses it, and about a mile and a half north of the present Church building. This location is approximately at the current intersection of NYS Route 311 and Brickhouse Road. The date of the building of the church is unknown and there are no records of the pastors or the members. Recent research indicates that the church was officially organized on November 6, 1751. It members had been holding meetings for some time prior to that.

The Church changed its name to the First Baptist Church of Frederickstown on December 1, 1790. The church had thirty members, and it was incorporated under New York State law on September 15,1794. Along with its sister church in Northeast in Dutchess County, New York, the Patterson Baptist Church is the oldest operating Baptist Church in New York State.

The location of the original and present Baptist Churches. An 1898 postcard gives a rare look at the Four Corners Baptist Church. A c.1910 view of the Patterson Baptist Church from the cemetery across the street. The present Patterson Baptist Church. The parsonage of the Baptist Church in Towners, from a postcard with a 1912 postmark. In 1985, the parsonage and the land at the corner of NYS Route 311 and Cushman Road was exchanged for land adjacent to the church. The land swap allowed the church to construct a new driveway for the church along with a new parsonage.

One of the most famous members of the Patterson Baptist Church was Sebal (Sybil) Ludington, who married Catskill attorney Edmond Odgen there on October 24, 1785, according to her Revolutionary War pension application.

About 1812, the old building was moved a mile and a half south to the location then known as Towner's Four Corners, and enlarged. The church became known as the Four Corners Baptist Church. Four Corners is approximately the intersection of NYS Routes 311 and 164. It stood until a new building was erected and dedicated in March, 1836. It's interesting to note that all three congregations in Patterson rebuilt their buildings between 1836 and 1838. It was apparently, a time of growth and optimism. The railroad was coming to Patterson and the town was changing rapidly. Towners would soon have both a railroad station and its own Post Office.

After the Civil War, in 1866, just prior to the extension of the second railroad line through the area, the present building was built at a cost of $12,500 to replace the previous one that had been in use for over thirty years. It was dedicated on October 16, 1867. It has been called the "Rock Church" because it stands on the summit of a ridge where a bed of Limestone comes to the surface. In 1876, the congregation voted to rename the church the "Patterson Baptist Church".

The Towner family used a portion of the burying ground opposite the church as a family burying ground for several years. John Towner gave the land to the church trustees on April 2, 1828. The church bought two adjoining parcels that, along with the Towner family portion, make up the present cemetery.

Stained glass windows were installed in the church in 1886. A pipe organ was installed in 1924. Electric service was brought into the church building in 1926. Indoor plumbing was added after World War II, with the old millstone from the Towner’s Mill used as the cover for the well.

A quarry is said to have operated in the land behind the church building. Stone from that quary was used to build the wall in front of the church, and is also said to have been shipped to Washington D. C. to be used in the construction of some of the monuments.

A legal notice from the October 18, 1929 edition of the Putnam County Courier lists tax-exempt church properties. Included are the Methodist Chapel (the present Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall) and St. Bernard's Catholic Church.
Other old churches still exist in one form or another in Patterson. St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Towners on Bullet Hole Road was built in 1875 at the cost of $4,500. It was converted to a private residence in the 1960s and still stands today. The building is a 1 1/2 story frame structure measuring 58 feet by 35 feet. Three stained glass windows are visible on the front of the church above the first level. Research completed in 1986 indicated that the church was designed by L. J. O'Connor and built by contractors William Whalen of Millerton, New York, and Akin Ingersoll of Pawling, New York. William H. Fisher of Carmel and Mr. Wright of Patterson painted the structure. The stained glass windows were made by Cartasser, of New York City. St. Bernard's was a mission church operated by St. Lawrence O'Toole parish in Brewster until 1957, when the new parish of Sacred Heart assumed control. Sacred Heart itself was a mission church of St. Lawrence until it was designated a full parish in 1957. Since the church was only used on Sundays and on special occasions, there was no need for a rectory because the priests resided in Brewster at St. Lawrence. A caretaker was needed to maintain the building and the grounds, and a caretaker residence was constructed in 1874 adjacent to the church. It also became a private residence when the church was abandoned.

The 1986 research indicates that St. Bernard's first pastor was Father Patrick J. Healy, who was pastor of St. John's Catholic Church in Pawling at the time St. Bernard's was constructed, but was transferred to St. Lawrence O'Toole. The January 10, 1896 edition of The Putnam County Courier notes that the rector of St. Bernard's Church was the Rev. M. J. Henry.

St. Bernard's Catholic Church fell into disuse as the Towners congregation decreased in size. Other Catholic churches, especially the Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Carmel, were nearby and were able to absorb the St. Bernard congregation.

St. Bernard's Catholic Church is seen in an undated photograph. (The Patterson Historical Society) The next illustration shows a church service listing for St. Bernard's Church published on April 26, 1951. The third listing for Patterson appeared August 16, 1951. The last church service listing for St. Bernard appeared in the fall of 1956.

Next: The Maple Avenue Cemetery (And Combined Church Cemeteries) and the War Memorial