The Village of Wappingers Falls is a village in Dutchess County, New York. The community was named for the cascade in Wappinger Creek. A portion of the village is in the town of Wappinger and the other part is in the town of Poughkeepsie, with Wappinger Creek forming the dividing line between the towns.
The Village of Wappingers Falls also holds claim to New York State's 6th oldest library, the Grinnell Library.
The Wappinger were a confederacy of Native Americans whose territory in the 17th century spread along the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Primarily based in what is now Dutchess County, New York, their territory bordered Manhattan Island to the south, the Mahican territory bounded by the Roeliff-Jansen Kill to the north, and extended east into parts of Connecticut. “Wappinger” means “easterner” in most Algonkian languages.
The area was part of the Rombout Patent. In 1741, two Dutchmen, Nicholas and Adolphus Brewer, purchased 750 acres of land around the falls and they built the first stone house in the village near the present Mill Street. In 1742, the Brewers built a mill on the east side of Wappinger Creek. Nicholas Brewer built the Mesier Homestead, which he sold in 1777 to Matthew VanBenschoten, who, in turn, sold it to Peter Mesier, a merchant from New York City.
In May 1777, soldiers and local residents attacked Peter Mesier's house in Wappingers Falls, disputing the price of tea for sale in a small store inside his home. Mesier was a merchant from New York City and a Loyalist. The angry mob struck Mesier, beat his slaves and drank wine stored in the cellar. They also took the tea and left a small amount of money behind.
The local waterfall was important for early industrial development. In 1819 a small cotton mill was built in the hollow created by the creek as it descends from Wappinger Lake to drain into the Hudson River. By 1856 it had become one of the largest printworks in the country. A fire that year destroyed the original buildings completely, but they were immediately rebuilt and continued in operation until 1931. The streets on the hillside opposite the mill are lined with frame houses, mostly duplexes, built by the mill for its workers. The two halves of the village are connected by an 1884 stone arch bridge that replaced earlier wooden structures.
The village of Wappingers Falls was incorporated in 1871 and included the adjacent community of Channingville, which was on the west side of the Wappinger Creek. The east side was known as Franklindale. In 1885 the Franklindale Cotton Mill, which employed about 130 people, was destroyed by fire; and later, during President Grover Cleveland’s second administration, the Independent Comb Factory on the corner of Fulton and Prospect Streets was forced to close. The repeal of the tariff made it impossible for the company to compete with German-made combs. In 1909, the Garner Print Works were sold and became the Dutchess Bleachery. The plant, which at times employed as many as 1150 people, stopped printing calico but continued as a bleachery and dye works.
That portion of the village lying north of the creek (in the Town of Poughkeepsie) was originally known as Ednamville. It later became known as Channingville, (sometimes rendered "Chiningville"), which name is derived from the Channing family, who owned the farm on which it mostly lies. Patrick Kennedy's North American Hotel, and Eagan's Opera House (built in 1876 by John Eagan, with a seating capacity for five hundred people) were located here. The village's first post office was established here in 1840.
The Bain Commercial Building is located at the corner of Church and West Main (NY 9D) streets. The Bain family is believed to have built the building in 1875, shortly after Channingville became part of the village. It was both their residence and their place of business. It is a late 19th-century brick building that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.