The Peekskill Museum was presented to the Field Library by Mrs. Ida M. Adams by deed dated January 3, 1944. It is one of Peekskill’s most famous Victorian houses. Built by Dwight Stiles Herrick, a prominent lawyer in Peekskill in the last century as his private home. His wife Sarah was the oldest daughter of another prominent Peekskillian John Simpson.
The house was designed by the famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and Bigelow. Mr. Herrick was a classmate of William Rutherford Mead at Amherst College, Mass, class of 1867. Mr. Herrick later became a lawyer and Mr. Mead an architect. They continued their college friendship and Mr. Herrick asked Mead to design his house. It is a fine example of a “well to do” Victorian home. With a spacious staircase, library, parlor and a fireplace with Dutch ‘Delft’ tiles depicting Biblical scenes.
The house was built around 1873 to 1878, then occupied by the Herrick family until approximately 1912. Dwight Herrick’s picture, presented to the Museum by Jennie Mabie in 1948, hangs on the wall in the front foyer, ready to greet visitors as Mr. Herrick would have done.
The house itself was published in the best architectural journal of its day, “The American Architect and Building News” (June 2, 1877). More recently, the house has been mentioned by Vincent Scully, in his book “The Shingle Style”. Mr Scully’s title reflects his specialty, which was art expressed in architecture. His title was “Sterling Professor of the History of Art in Architecture” at Yale.
The house was purchased by Miss Mary Strang. Her nephew and nieces from Yorktown lived with her while attending Drum Hill High School. She took other paying guests as late as 1921, perhaps longer. Upon her death in 1937, we believe a mortgage foreclosure brought it to Mr. Adams, who had been a cemetery superintendent. Mr. Chester Smith secured the house. It then became the property of Mrs. Ida Adams. The house had become in disrepair & wishing to free it from its tax debts, Mrs. Adams presented the house to the Field Library in 1944 as the site for a museum.