battle for the Poughkeepsie Post Office, President Roosevelt focused his
attention on the new Rhinebeck Post Office. The Rhinebeck Post Office, he
insisted, should be modeled after "Kipsbergen," an 18th century
Rhinebeck home occupied by Franklin Roosevelt's ancestors, the Beekmans.
"Kipsbergen" burned to the ground in the early 20th century and
President Roosevelt claimed it was important to replicate the house because
it was the first house occupied by a white settler in Dutchess County and
served as George Washington's headquarters during the Revolutionary War.
Although those claims were false, Helen Reynolds fought against FDR's
choice because she did not think the house was representative of typical
colonial homes; however, the President won out in the end. At the post
office dedication on May 1, 1939, President Roosevelt explained why he
fought so hard for the architecture of the new buildings: "We are
seeking to follow the type of architecture which is good in the sense that
it does not of necessity follow the whims of the moment but seeks an
artistry that ought to be good, as far as we can tell, for all time to
come. And we are trying to adapt the design to the historical background of
the locality and to use, insofar as possible, the materials which are
indigenous to the locality itself. Hence, fieldstone for Dutchess County.
Hence the efforts during the past few years in Federal buildings in the
Hudson River Valley to use fieldstone and to copy the early Dutch
architecture which was so essentially sound besides being very attractive
to the eye."
with the local theme, President Roosevelt also brought in local artists to
paint the post offices. Rhinebeck resident Olin Dows, a Vassar-trained
artist and head of the Treasury Relief Art Program, was commissioned to
paint the murals in the Rhinebeck Post Office. The murals depicted
historical scenes from Rhinebeck's past.
"Kipsbergen" (Kip-Beekman-Hermance House)
Dedication of Rhinebeck Post Office
Mural in the Rhinebeck Post Office