Watts De Peyster Fireman's Hall

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Watts De Peyster Fireman's Hall
2019 Watts de Peyster Firemen's Hall, 86 Broadway, Tivoli, New York.jpg
North (front) facade, 2019
Location Tivoli, NY
Nearest city Kingston
Coordinates 42°03′32″N73°54′41″W / 42.05889°N 73.91139°W / 42.05889; -73.91139 Coordinates: 42°03′32″N73°54′41″W / 42.05889°N 73.91139°W / 42.05889; -73.91139
Built1898 [1]
ArchitectMichael O'Connor [1]
Architectural style Richardsonian Romanesque
NRHP reference # 89002005
Added to NRHPNovember 16, 1989

The Watts De Peyster Fireman's Hall is located on Broadway in the village of Tivoli, New York. John Watts De Peyster, a resident, paid for it and gave it to the village for its fire department in 1898. It is a brick "storefront" firehouse, a type of fire station more commonly seen in cities at the time than small rural villages like Tivoli.

Tivoli, New York Village in New York, United States

Tivoli is a village in Dutchess County, New York, United States. The population was 1,118 at the 2010 census. The village, which was incorporated in 1872 from parts of Upper Red Hook Landing and Madalin, is the northernmost settlement in the county, located in the northwest part of the town of Red Hook. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. It is also entirely within the Hudson River Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The village is accessible via New York State Route 9G at an intersection with Dutchess County Route 78.


Since the construction of a new firehouse in 1986 it has been the village hall. In 1989 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and three years later it also became a contributing property to the Hudson River Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.

National Register of Historic Places federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

Contributing property Key component of a place listed on the National Register of Historic Places

In the law regulating historic districts in the United States, a contributing property or contributing resource is any building, object, or structure which adds to the historical integrity or architectural qualities that make the historic district, listed locally or federally, significant. Government agencies, at the state, national, and local level in the United States, have differing definitions of what constitutes a contributing property but there are common characteristics. Local laws often regulate the changes that can be made to contributing structures within designated historic districts. The first local ordinances dealing with the alteration of buildings within historic districts was in Charleston, South Carolina in 1931.

Hudson River Historic District historic district in Dutchess and Columbia counties, New York

The Hudson River Historic District, also known as Hudson River Heritage Historic District, is the largest such district on the mainland of the contiguous United States. It covers an area of 22,205 acres extending inland roughly a mile (1.6 km) from the east bank of the Hudson River between Staatsburg and Germantown in Dutchess and Columbia counties in the U.S. state of New York. This area includes the riverfront sections of the towns of Clermont, Red Hook, Rhinebeck and part of Hyde Park. This strip includes in their entirety the hamlets of Annandale, Barrytown, Rhinecliff and the village of Tivoli. Bard College and two protected areas, Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park and Tivoli Bays Unique Area, are also within the district.


Tivoli was incorporated as a village of the Town of Red Hook in 1872, after a period of tremendous growth due to commerce along the Hudson River. Two smaller existing settlements, Upper Red Hook Landing and Madalin, were combined in the new municipality. [1]

A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. The term can also be used to describe municipally owned corporations.

As soon as the village came into existence, its government discussed the need for a new firehouse to serve the community. These discussions continued for a quarter-century, during which its commercial importance began to decline. In 1896 the Village Board passed legislation creating a fire department and calling a special election to decide how it would be financed. Two years later John Watts De Peyster, a wealthy resident of the area and village president as well as an influential authority on firefighting, saved the village the trouble by hiring local architect Michael O'Connor to design a new firehouse. Once it was built, he leased it to the village. [1]

In 1900, during a tax dispute with the village, he barred the board from meeting there. He had also threatened to close the firehouse if his estranged son, who had been elected village president, was allowed in the building. Seven years later, upon his death, the lease passed to a local orphanage he had founded. That arrangement lasted until 1921, when his descendants bought the lease from the orphanage and donated the building to the village. [1]

Since 1986, when a new firehouse was built, the building has been the location of the Tivoli Village Offices and Tivoli Free Library, as well as the Tivoli Bays Visitor Center of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The Watts de Peyster Fireman's Hall was restored and renovated in 1994. [2]


The firehouse is a three-story building, three bays wide by four deep, on a half-acre (2,000 m²) lot in downtown Tivoli. It is faced in brick laid in English bond with contrasting stone courses at the floor levels. The hipped slate roof is pierced by a dormer with gabled parapet top, four chimneys and a round turreted tower rising from the southwest corner. The roofline's cornice is broken in front by the dormer. [1]

On the northern (front) facade, the first floor has two former garage openings, now filled with paneled wooden doors, and a regular entrance between them. The course above them consists of stone blocks with oak leaves, a traditional European symbol in heraldry for firefighters. A cornerstone gives the architect, builder and date of construction, and a marble dedication plaque memorializes Watts and de Peyster. The stone basement is visible along the side and rear elevations. [1]

Inside, the first floor is divided into the two large bays used originally for fire engines, with plaster walls, wainscoting, pressed tin ceilings and wooden-plank floors. The second floor, used originally as meeting rooms, has similar finishing as well as thin cast iron columns in its largest room. All rooms have their original carved mantel and fireplace cover. The third floor is a single large room with two large wood braces supporting the ceiling. [1]

There is one outbuilding, a garage built during the mid-20th century. It is not considered a contributing property. [1]

Tivoli Bays Visitor Center of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (HRNERR)

Tivoli Bays is one of four coastal wetlands that comprise the Hudson River Reserve (HR), in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR). [3] The HRNERR Tivoli Bays Visitor Center and Doorway to the Bays exhibit for the Tivoli Bays unit of the HRNERR are housed in Watts de Peyster Fireman's Hall. [4] The Visitor Center and exhibit are depicted as "i" (Information) located on Kidd Lane on the map of the Tivoli Bays unit of the HRNERR. A nature trail leading to a canoe launch begins behind the building.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Kuhn, Robert (October 1989). "National Register of Historic Places nomination, Watts De Peyster Fireman's House". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation . Retrieved June 16, 2009.
  2. Restoration plaque on building, to right of front door.
  3. "Final Evaluation Findings Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve New York October 2004 - December 2008" (PDF). Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management National Ocean Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2010.
  4. "Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve Revised Management Plan 2009-2014" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and New York Coastal Management Program. 2014.