Dutchess Manor in winterDutchess Manor in Beacon, NY is best known as one of the Hudson Valley’s great wedding and event venues. With spectacular views of the Hudson River and its eye popping architecture, this fine structure has become an area landmark.

Ah, but there is more to Dutchess Manor than meets the eye. It has an interesting history that ties it back to the days when men’s fortunes could be made in brick making along the Hudson River. One of these entrepreneurs was one Francis Timoney.

Francis Timoney immigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1852 and worked for a while in the brick industry in Westchester County. All the while he saved his money from his earnings and from the shares he received as a foreman.  In 1886 he purchased three brickyard properties in Dutchess Junction, or Dennings Point as you may know it, in what is today Beacon, NY. One property was in working order, but the other two needed to be brought back up to speed.

After renovations to the properties, Francis Timoney had three yards on the river, two barges for hauling bricks, close access to rail, and a production output of around 25 million bricks per year. Life was getting good for Francis Timoney. So good, that he decided to build a family estate on the Hudson River almost overlooking his brickyards. That family home was Dutchess Manor, a partial Second Empire architectural style structure that ultimately found its way onto the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982. The original structure (historic structure) is the large center structure, with the north and south wings being added much later.

So things were going Timoney’s way, but as we all know, fate is fickle and can in short notice turn one’s world around. And indeed in 1897 fate did turn one of her famous twists on Francis Timoney.

An abstract from the NY Times on July 14, 1897:

MATTEAWAN, July 14. — The Melzingah dams, which supply Fishkill Landing and Matteawan with water, burst at 2:30 o’clock this morning. The waters rushed down the mountain, following the old bed of the Melzingah Brook. Two bridges were swept away. The great volume of water struck the little settlement occupied by the laborers of Frank Timoney’s brick yard at Dutchess Junction.

The damage was so extensive that the Timoney’s were never able to recover from the devastating event. Eventually they sold Dutchess Manor. While the yards are gone, thankfully, Dutchess Manor remains, and in excellent condition. Since the mid 1940’s, several generations of the Cone family have run Dutchess Manor as a wedding and event facility.

The Sojourner