Dutchess County Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story



built in 1868-69 as a city poorhouse 
with funds from the separation of poor relief between the county and the city
[For some time prior to this a poorhouse on this site had served first as a city almshouse and later as a county poorhouse, but in 1863 a new county poorhouse was built in Oak Summit/Millbrook, Town of Washington ]


These photographs were taken by James Storrow  9/6/2000. For many years he has studied the work of J. A. Wood, the architect who designed this poorhouse -- as well as the one in Ulster County 
Our scans do not do justice to Mr. Storrow's beautiful photography. 


Oak Summit/Millbrook  NY 

Click here to see Photo Album 

the Poorhouse Story

The notes below have been abstracted from the following reports.
To obtain further information on these reports click on the appropriate button.
(This will open a separate window so simply close to get back to this page.)

the Poorhouse Story

This county's section of an 1823 legislative investigation into the condition of poor relief in New York State is very comprehensive and includes a survey of poor relief practices in all the towns as well as a description of 
the poorhouse then operated in Poughkeepsie.

the Poorhouse Story
1824 LAW (required establishment of poorhouse vs. exempted): exempt
the Poorhouse Story


NOTE: The building described here is a building located in Poughkeepsie which served first as a city almshouse and then later as a county poorhouse (at the time of this report), but was subsequently sold when the county and city separated their poor relief . The county relocated its poorhouse and the city poorhouse was replaced  with the one shown above. See Timeline report for these changes.  PHL

This house is constructed of wood, connected is a farm of one hundred and seven acres, yielding an annual revenue of $1,631.00. The basements are occupied both for cells and lodging rooms. There are twenty-five rooms or wards, warmed by stoves but destitute of ventilation. The number of inmates was two hundred and forty; one hundred males and one hundred and forty females. Of these two-thirds are foreigners, one-third are native born, and sixty-one under sixteen years of age. The sexes are kept separate. They are under a single keeper. On an average about eight paupers are placed in a single room, in the largest thirty to forty. The average number of inmates is two hundred and twenty, supported at a weekly cost of ninety-five cents each. The paupers who are able are employed on the farm and about the house. The supervisors have visited the house once during the year. It is supplied with Bibles and a Sunday school, and religious worship is regularly conducted. A school is taught in the building during the whole year. The superintendents furnish supplies; the diet is plain and wholesome. A physician is employed by the year. During the last year forty-nine deaths have occurred.

Of the inmates twenty-seven are lunatics, ten males and seventeen females. All are paupers. Twenty have been admitted within the year. They receive no special attendance. Two lunatics are confined in cells and chained to the floor, one is placed in a straight-jacket. The only classification consists in placing the violent in cells and others in rooms. The superintendent exercises the power of discharge. Five of the inmates are idiots, two males and three females. There are four blind. There is a pest house connected with the establishment.

The lunatics sometimes escape but they are always advertized or followed and secured. The physician of the house states, that during the three years he has been in charge nine lunatics have been cured and thirteen improved.

Transcribed by PHS-Volunteer, Cheramie Breaux in Louisiana
the Poorhouse Story


TIMELINE--Dutchess County and City of Poughkeepsie 
                            poorhouse history 
with excerpts from: 
James Smith’s “History of Dutchess County”
Edmund Platt’s “History of Poughkeepsie” (1905)
and other sources



Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors
County of Dutchess

report related to the Dutchess County Poorhouse


"The Poughkeepsie City Almshouse is located at 20 Maple Street, Poughkeepsie NY.  
It is now used for low income/senior housing."
     Tom Smith      Tcsmith01@aol.com 


the Poorhouse Story

List of Residents of the Dutchess County Almshouse (then located in Poughkeepsie)
from the 1850 Census  

Microfilm Series A1978  Roll Number(s) 25-26
  more information
Dutchess County Almshouse  1909-1919 -- Roll # 25
(and perhaps the beginning of Roll # 26)
after relocation to Oak Summit/Millbrook
Poughkeepsie City-County-City Almshouse  1864-1919 -- Roll # 26
(and perhaps the end of Roll # 25)

the Poorhouse Story

Ginny Buechele is working hard as an advocate for retaining the history of the Dutchess County poorhouse and for the preservation of it's cemetery and records. She is documenting the effort on her website. But we recently got her latest updates.

Public Works & Transportation Committee RESOLUTION #202258 - 17  September 2002

A LETTER was delivered to county officials on 11/8/2002 advising them of the following offer.

Professor Brian G. McAdoo of the Vassar College Department of Geology & Geography has offered the services of  his 2003 Fall Semester Advanced Geophysics class to conduct a geophysical survey at the Potter’s Field Site similar in scope to the project they recently performed in Ulster County to research that poorhouse cemetery.

Hamilton W. Meserve, Dutchess County Legislator, and chairman of the public works committee is now reviewing Dr. McAdoo's proposal. 

It has been determined -- through interviews with witnesses to their recent existence (within the past five years) -- that the poorhouse records (likely including the cemetery records) do exist and may be currently stored in a  private local historical records repository.  

It is hoped that they will soon be made available for indexing and microfilming -- and that the cemetery interment list will be made available to the county executive and legislators currently being encouraged to preserve, document, delineate and refurbish  the poorhouse grounds and cemetery! 

A list is being maintained for volunteers who may be needed to assist with future clean-up efforts for the cemetery -- More Volunteers Are Needed!
Contact Ginny to be added to the list of "Future Volunteers."


the Poorhouse Story

"I understand there is a cemetery on the grounds [of the Dutchess County Poorhouse in Oak Summit (Millbrook)] but no stones and only numbered graves. I don't know whether or not the records have ever been found. At present I don't know what the county uses it for but I have heard that the property is up for sale which makes one wonder what will happen with the interments there."   Ginny   ginnyflies@worldnet.att.net 

"Yes, there is a cemetery there! I found a volunteer who took pictures for me. It is all overgrown, and the director there suggested to come during the cooler seasons, as they have Lyme disease in the area."  

the Poorhouse Story

We are hoping to build this base of information about the poorhouse in DUTCHESS county through the helpful participation of readers. All are requested to submit items of interest by sending e-mail to The Poorhouse Lady.

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