The Patterson Town Government

Junia W. Dykeman

Junia W. Dykeman was descended from the Dykeman family, after whom the community of Dykemans in the neighboring town of Southeast was named. The Dykeman family included Junia Dykeman, a soldier in the War of 1812, and Hezekiah Dykeman, who settled in the town of Southeast in 1700s.

Junia W. Dykeman was born on July 23, 1878, on the family homestead. He attended the Brewster school, and later continued the family tradition of farming. In 1900, Dykeman married the former Bessie Nichols in Towners. He then moved to Patterson, where he remained for over fifty years. He purchased a farm on Cornwall Hill Road, which he operated until a few years before his death. For many years he sold milk in Patterson and operated a creamery. After selling the farm, Dykeman moved to a home on South Street. He was a member and trustee of the Patterson Baptist Church, a founding member and ex-chief of the Patterson Fire Department, a member of the Patterson Grange, and the Patterson-Putnam Lake Republican Club.

Dykeman was well-known in Patterson politics. Dykeman served both as justice of the peace and town board member for 27 years. He then served 16 years as town clerk, the office he still held at the time of his death. He died June 17, 1962 at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, where he was being treated after suffering a heart attack. He was 83. He is buried in the Dykeman family plot in the Four Corners Baptist Cemetery on NYS Route 31 in Towners.

Garbage Disposal

"The small size of the County geographically and its extraordinarily rapid growth in population which promises within a few years to bring development into almost every remaining open area, virtually precludes finding an acceptable location for such a [Countywide] garbage disposal." Patterson Supervisor Donald B. Smith, February 1967

For over 100 years since the founding of a settlement that later became the town of Patterson, garbage disposal was very informal. With a small population and vast stretches of open land, any spot could become a garbage disposal site. Waste in the days before chemicals and plastics was mostly organic, and would decompose naturally without much harm to the environment. Farmers could also use some wastes, such as tree logs and corn stalks as fuel, which, along with leaves, could easily be burned. In the mid-20th century, however, the population of Putnam County grew dramatically as it became a bedroom community for New York City. In 1960, the population of Putnam County had increased 54% over the prior ten years, and a building boom was underway. Easy solutions for waste disposal had disappeared. The County sought a countywide solution for garbage in the 1960s, when the County saw a surge in development. Another surge would take place in the 1980s. Both times, a common garbage dumping area was sought by County officials, only to be fought vigorously by residents of the communities chosen to host the dumpsite. Private dumps, some operating illegally, also became controversial in Patterson in the 1960s.

In January, 1949, the Patterson Chamber of Commerce led an attempt to create a garbage district in Patterson. A meeting was held in the Log Cabin Restaurant to discuss a petition drive that would request the Town government to explore the proposal. Thirty Chamber members attended the meeting, which was chaired by Chamber president Max Grand. Members discussed a weekly Thursday pickup of garbage and debris, and a carter from Pawling attended to answer questions. Chamber members wishing the weekly garbage pickup were asked to leave their names with Grand at his Drug Store on Front Street. Strategies were discussed for obtaining the signatures of 51% of the taxpayers in Patterson, the number needed to present a petition to the Town Board.

In the 1960s through the 1990s, Patterson dumped its garbage in a dumpsite located off Cornwall Hill Road near the railroad tracks, which was part of the Kessman farm property. Even in the 1960s, the State of New York attacked the Town's use of this open dump because of environmental concerns from seepage and from the burning of garbage. Smith announced that Patterson had assigned town engineer Howard Kelly to study other townships that were using composting or incineration to reduce the volumes of solid waste. $1,000 was also allocated for a study to find an in-town solution to Patterson's garbage needs. Smith stated that the most likely solution for the County garbage problem would be an out-of-county dumpsite. Supervisor Smith noted that a multi-town dumpsite was still possible for Putnam County, but that such a site must have a useful life of least ten to fifteen years. Smith stated that the pressures of development would make it difficult to find suitable property for a dump that would not otherwise be needed for housing or recreation within that fifteen year period.

A garbage district existed in Putnam Lake, but nothing existed in the rest of the Town. Property owners in the rest of Patterson chose their own garbage carter and were billed directly by the carting company. The formation of a garbage district for Patterson was discussed at a May, 1968 meeting of the Patterson Civic Association. It was noted that a garbage district could negotiate a better price than an individual property owner. Some residents, however, argued that a town wide district would be impractical until Putnam County solved the garbage disposal problem by establishing a new dumpsite. The littered and garbage strewn condition of the Town's roads was also discussed.

In October, 1972, the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) fined Gilbert Wadle for violating the State Sanitary Code. Wadle was under contract to the town of Patterson to collect and dispose of Town garbage. Wadle's dump operation had been the subject of complaints from area residents, who reported incidents of open burning and other violations of State code. Wadle had been accused by the DEC of ignoring a 1969 complaint from the State Health Dept., while new complaints had been made since then. Wadle was ordered to follow regulations, including the daily compacting and covering of garbage. In addition to the fine, Wadle was told that his dump would be monitored by the DEC.

In October, 1974, Patterson Supervisor Donald B. Smith announced that Patterson would have a town wide garbage collection system in place in 1975. The system would require the creation of the Town's second garbage district. Smith stated that the new district would need its own equipment, and would be staffed by Town employees. He indicated that the Town hoped to establish a new sanitary landfill soon.

In 1975 a new Town landfill was established on forty acres of land off Cornwall Hill Road, opposite the controversial dumpsite that was commonly known as the "Kessman dump" because the property was once part of the Kessman farm. The Kessman dump was utilized by a Westchester firm known as Cross County Sanitation Company, and became controversial due to the nature of the waste that was dumped there, and because much of the waste was coming from outside Putnam County. The new Town-operated landfill received certification from the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in August, 1978. It was the first landfill in Putnam County to receive a DEC permit. DEC inspectors stated that the Patterson operation was in the best condition of any landfill operation in this portion of the State. The Town landfill was utilized until the late 1990s, when the DEC ordered the Town to close it. The Kessman dump, on the other hand, became embroiled in litigation, and toxic seepage was monitored by the DEC. It was capped in the mid-1990s, and test wells continue to be monitored by the DEC.

The Town Hall

The Patterson government was without a permanent home through much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Space for meetings was borrowed or rented, as needed. When the population of Patterson was small, this strategy was successful. Many official functions were conducted in the homes or businesses of Town officials. As the Town grew, however, the need for a formal town hall became apparent. The November 18, 1898 edition of The Putnam County Courier expressed it this way:

"For the past five years Patterson has been in great need for a town hall, and just at present it is being agitated. We trust it will not end, as it has often before, in simple agitation. The town has no place to hold election; no place to hold a justice's court; no place to hold public meetings of any sort; no place for an entertainment, a dance, nor anything of this nature. The town does not ask for an elaborate edifice, but something substantial and within the means of the taxpayers to build."
The town was using space in the ballroom of the Judd Building for town meetings, and the third floor of the Bloch Dept. Store was also used as a courtroom and for town meetings. The July 22, 1898 edition of The Putnam County Courier noted that a room in one of John Cruther's buildings was rented and would be used as a ballot station in future elections.

In December, 1900, contractor Arthur L. Newcomb was hired by Jacob Stahl to construct a new building on Main Street (NYS Route 311) near the Putnam House, a hotel and boarding house located west of Locust Street. The building was said to be the new town hall building. The town would have use of the building, but not own it. The two story building, commonly known as Stahl's Hall, was completed in 1901. It must be noted that news accounts as early as 1896 mention a "Stahl's Hall", but this is probably another structure since later new accounts are clear that Newcomb built the Main Street building in 1901. The May 15, 1896, edition of The Putnam County Courier for example, notes that J. E. Hunt of Pawling installed a new Kranich and Bach piano in Stahl's Hall.

The Patterson Town Hall, formerly Jacob Stahl's Hall, in a 1908 postcard published by J. E. Carey. The Patterson Town Hall in 1968. (The Patterson Historical Society) The steeple has been partially removed, but the fire department bell can be seen in its place. The fire department garage was just to the right, out of view in this photo. The building was no longer in use as the Town Hall at the time this photo was taken.

In 1913, Stahl's Hall was purchased Henry Ballard, who bought it from the estate of Jacob Stahl. For a time, Ballard used it as a garage. In 1919, he rented it to the E. P. Cordero & Co, which used the building as a cigar factory. The building was later rented for a short time as a clothing factory. In March, 1922, Ballard expressed interest in selling the building to the town of Patterson. In April, 1922, a referendum was held in the Town to authorize the purchase of Stahl's Hall for the sum of $3,500. Patterson officials made the case for the purchase, including the severe need for space and the need to reduce rent charges. 60 of 250 eligible voters actually voted in the referendum, and the purchase was authorized by 54 voters, with 6 opposing.

The Town Hall building contained an auditorium on the first floor, which saw much use for town meetings, fundraisers, and entertainment. When movies first made their appearance in Patterson, the Town Hall became the Town's movie theater. Dances, minstrel shows, plays, and school productions were also held on the stage of Patterson Town Hall. But, as the Town continued to grow, more space was needed, and some offices, such as the office of the town clerk, were moved to other locations. The Town Clerk's office was located in the top floor of the Bloch building at the corner of Front Street and Main Street (NYS Route 311), and moved again in February, 1949, to a store recently vacated on Main Street. Priscilla Gift Shop, owned by Mrs. Pfahl, moved to a store recently vacated by Charles Bender on Front Street. This building was near the Center Street intersection, and would later house Art's Barber Shop and the Cash and Carry Market owned by the Rinaldis. The building was destroyed by fire in November, 1962.

A listing of Patterson government offices from April, 1970. Civil Defense remained a critical government function in the 1970s. The Civil Defense functions were established in the World War II, years when there was fear of an air raid or invasion by enemy forces. In the 1950s, the concern was for a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union as the Cold War intensified. In the 1960s and 1970s, the arms race with the Soviet Union grew, and the United States battled Communism in Southeast Asia. Route 216 is now designated as NYS Route 164.

In December, 1966, the Patterson Town Board voted to close Stahl's Hall. Town building inspector Anthony Corinna reported to the Board that the structure was no longer suitable for public use because it lacked sanitation facilities and was in poor condition. Most recently, the building had been used as a recreation facility for town employees and their families. It contained a pool table and other such facilities. Town business was then run from the storefront on Main Street that housed the Town Clerk's office. In 1977, Patterson Supervisor Donald B. Smith reminisced:

"When I first came into this job back in the 1960s, we were operating out of a storefront in Patterson. I mean clerk, supervisor, assessors, court, and building inspector. We even held town meetings in that one room."
By 1969, all Town offices had been consolidated into the former Towners School, located at the intersection of NYS Routes 311 and 164. The Town acquired the Towners School at no cost when voters of the Towners School District voted to give the building to the Town after Towners was forced by the State to merge into the Carmel Central School District. Stahl's Hall was demolished in 1968, and the debris was dumped and burned at a controversial dumpsite on Cornwall Hill Road opposite the Highway Department garage. The dumpsite was commonly referred to as the Kessman Dump because the Kessman family owned much of the land in that area.

The Town quickly outgrew the Towners School building, and, in 1977, bids were solicited for construction of an addition to the building. In April, 1977, a bid for $88,700 was accepted from Andron Construction Co. of Cross River, New York to construct the shell of the building. Supervisor Donald B. Smith indicated that the bids were higher than anticipated, and that the Town would re-advertise for bids to install the heating and air conditioning system. The Town rejected bids for telephone booths and folding doors. The Town had received a $92,000 Federal grant the previous year for renovations to the building.

The expanded Town Hall was dedicated on October 29, 1978. The Town received a total of $250,000 in Federal grants to cover the costs of the new addition to the building and the renovation of the original structure. Supervisor Donald B. Smith presided over the dedication ceremony, held in the new meeting room. Before the renovation took place, Town business was conducted in rooms that still had the school blackboards in place. With the completion of the addition, the offices of the supervisor, town clerk, and town justices were located on the first floor. The meeting room was located on the second floor. The old part of the building contained the courtroom and the offices of the town tax collector and building inspector. Officials of all six Putnam County towns, as well as the neighboring towns of Pawling and New Fairfield, Connecticut, were invited to the dedication ceremony. Approximately 150 dignitaries and Patterson residents attended the ceremony. Patterson's Congressional Representative, Hamilton Fish, Jr., and New York State Assemblyman Willis H. Stephens addressed the guests. The Rev. Richard Joyce, pastor of the Sacred Heart Church in Putnam Lake opened the dedication ceremony with a prayer. Kathy Lauro, head of the Patterson Historical Society, presented the Town with a large reproduction of the new Town seal. The seal contained the Town motto in Latin: "Things that are of the past are noble and things that are of the future are promising." Two bronze plaques were unveiled in the lobby of the new Town Hall. One marked the gift of the building to the Town by the Towners School District, and the other listed the members of the Patterson Town Board at the time of the remodeling project.

The addition to Patterson Town Hall, the former Towners School, is underway in this photo from the July 20, 1977 edition of the Putnam County Courier. Patterson Historical Society head Kathy Lauro and Patterson Supervisor Don Smith unveil the new town seal at the dedication ceremony for the renovated and expanded Patterson Town Hall in Towners. The photo was published in the November 1, 1978 edition of the Putnam County Courier.

In March 2002, Town Hall returned to the business district when a new building was completed on NYS Route 311 at Front Street.

The Town Highway Garage

In July, 1960, the Town of Patterson purchased four acres of farmland from Milton Kessman for use as a highway department garage for the storage of vehicles and tools. The purchase price was $3,500 for the property that was located on Cornwall Hill Road along the New York Central Railroad tracks. The Patterson Town Board did not consider any other property for the garage. Patterson Highway Superintendent Howard Burdick stated that it was the only available and accessible land near the center of Town. Town attorney Joseph Van Keuran told the Town Board that a survey of the property would cost an additional $250-300. The Town was currently renting a storage facility for highway equipment.

An open house for the new garage was held in October, 1961. Over 200 people attended the event, including Town and Putnam County officials. The new garage was built at a cost of $40,000, and contained space for highway equipment, a radio transmitter to be used by the highway department, and a vault for the storage of Town records. Members of the Patterson Town Board were on hand to answer questions from the public. Woman from the Patterson Fire Dept. Auxiliary provided refreshments for the event.

The Town Park

The Town Park on Maple Avenue in the hamlet of Patterson had its start as the Stahl family home. The best known of the Stahls was Jacob Stahl, owner of the Putnam Cigar Factory in Patterson. In the 1950s, the property was owned by Miriam M. Lavielle and Andre Lavielle, and operated as the Le Robinson Farm. The Stahl house became the Le Robinson Restaurant, featuring French cuisine, and the rest of the four-story home was used as a boarding house with space for up to fifty guests. The house was destroyed by fire in February, 1960.

In September, 1960, a committee from the Patterson Recreation Commission met with interested residents to discuss the establishment of a park district in Patterson for use by residents of the areas outside of Putnam Lake. The district would be supported by taxes paid by residents of the district. The district had no recreational or swimming facilities, unlike Putnam Lake, which was a planned community with the man-made lake as the center of its recreational activities.

The search for a permanent recreation facility for the town began almost fifteen years earlier. The effort was begun by the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), which was able to secure the use of the Patterson School for summer recreation programs for children. The program was so successful that the PTA could not continue to administer it, and it asked the Patterson Town Board for help. The Town Board responded by creating the Recreation Commission in 1950. The Commission was run by volunteers. Its first effort was an arts and crafts program for children of the Patterson School. The next program was swimming at Baird State Park in Poughkeepsie, which was partly funded by the State of New York, but mostly funded by fundraisers such as the annual block parties and dances held on Front Street.

In the summer of 1960, the Recreation Commission rented the Le Robinson Farm from Andre Lavielle, and was given an option to buy the property by April, 1961. The property was well-suited for recreation use, and consisted of 20 acres of land, seven buildings, a spring-fed one-acre lake, tennis, badminton, bocce courts, and a baseball field. One of the buildings was a five room brick bungalow that could be used as a home for a part time caretaker of the park, while the others were suitable for storage. Some of the buildings had showers, sinks, and toilets, and the property had a functioning septic system and a good well. The property also had space for picnic, camping, and barbeque areas, with good shade trees and attractive landscaping. There was ample room for parking. The lake area had a float and two boats. Three acres of land were wooded. Over 100 youngsters per day used the facilities in the summer of 1960. Most were able to walk to Le Robinson Farm, and many brought their own lunches. In September, 1960, the Recreation Commission made a proposal to purchase the Le Robinson property for use as a town park.

The boundaries of the park district were to be from the Connecticut border to the east, the center of Haviland Hollow Road on the south to NYS Route 22, then along the center of Route 22 south to the town of Southeast line, and then including all portions of Patterson to the west of those borders.

The property was for sale at a price of $22,500, to be paid over a five year period at a cost to property owners of $1.87/$1000 of assessed value. After purchase, a small tax would be used to provide funds for maintaining the park. Mrs. Helen Dolan was president of the commission, and she urged hamlet residents to visit the property.

On September 8, a meeting was held at Mrs. Dolan's home to form groups that would canvass the residents of the proposed park district. The district was divided into eight sections, and each section was assigned a group of two or three canvassers. The workers in the group were to explain the park district concept to each resident, along with the costs involved. Approving residents were asked to sign a petition calling for the establishment of the park district and the purchase of the Le Robinson Farm. The plan would still need the approval of the Patterson Town Board, the Putnam County Board of Supervisors, and the New York State Legislature, but a successful petition drive would ensure those approvals.

The Commission's petition drive continued into February, 1961, but was stymied by a severe winter, and absentee property owners, many of whom were summer residents and unavailable during the winter. Also contributing to the slow progress were Patterson's two utilities, New York Telephone and New York State Electric and Gas, who vocally supported the effort, but would not sign the petitions. The two utilities were also property owners in the town, based on the rights-of-way they owned for their poles and lines. Corporate representatives cited the complex procedures that each company would need to follow before they could affix signatures to the petition. The Town's option on the Le Robinson property - the only site available for a town park - would expire in six weeks. The petition needed to carry the signatures of owners representing 51% of the assessed properties in the Town, and the signatures of the utilities would put the total over the 51% threshold. Andre Lavielle had received several purchase offers for the property for amounts much greater than the Recreation Commission's bid. However, Lavielle agreed to be bound by the Commission's option if it could close the bid by April 1.

A rare glimpse of the Jacob Stahl summer residence on Maple Avenue. The house became Le Robinson, and later the Town Park. The second photo shows the house in 1910, in a postcard published by John E. Carey, a grocer and confectioner with a store on Railroad Street (Front Street). The postcard was printed Germany. The Patterson Recreation Commission hosted a fundraising block dance on Main Street (NYS Route 311) in August, 1957. The ad was published in the Putnam County Courier on August 8, 1957.

While the petition drive continued, $3,000 in donations had been collected for the construction of a swimming pool in the park. The pool would supplement the lake, and would be built entirely with the donated money.

The Recreation Commission sent a telegram to Governor Nelson Rockefeller asking for his intervention. The Governor gave moral support to the park effort, but stated that there was nothing else he could do. A final push to meet the April 1 deadline was begun, and it was apparent that the summer residents must be contacted. A review of the assessment books was made at Town Hall, and out-of-town owners of properties assessed at more than $1,000 were sent a three page letter outlining the park district proposal. The property owners then were contacted by phone. Mrs. Dolan indicated that the positive response was overwhelming, with 73% of assessed property owners voting to sign the petition. The petition threshold of 51% was exceeded and the petition was approved.

With the petition approved, the next step to the formation of the park district was approval by the Patterson Town Board. A public hearing was held in April, 1961. Mrs. Dolan outlined the park district proposal, and also offered suggestions for keeping the maintenance costs of the town park to a minimum. She suggested vending machines, and a concession stand, and a 25 cent fee to be charged to non-resident guests of a park district resident. Resident Williard Browne argued that the park funds should instead be used to attract commerce to Patterson, which, he said, had lost several large grocery store chains, factories, and a major rail line. Resident William Ebel suggested that the proposed town park would make the town attractive to new residents and to new businesses, which might induce businesses to move to Patterson and replace the businesses that left the Town. Resident Francis B. Thurber, representing 300 residents in the Bullet Hole Road area, asked to be removed from the proposed district. He stated that his neighborhood was too far from the proposed park for him or his neighbors to use it. After the debate, the Town Board voted unanimously to approve the park district and to purchase the Le Robinson Farm. Approval by the Putnam County Board of Supervisors followed soon afterwards.

The final approval for the park district was received in June, 1961, when New York State Comptroller Arthur Levitt authorized the creation of the district. The signing ceremony took place in the New York City Office of the Comptroller, and was witnessed by Deputy Comptroller Alfred W. Haight, attorney for the Department of Audit and Control John Sauerwald, Patterson Recreation head Helen Dolan, Patterson Supervisor William Millar, Putnam County Treasurer David Bruen, attorney for the Town of Patterson Joseph Van Keuren, Clerk of the Putnam County Board of Supervisors Donald Race, and Putnam County Attorney Sol Kroll.

Community enthusiasm for the new park drew many local residents to the Le Robinson Farm during the summer of 1961. The number of people became so great that the Patterson Recreation Commission issued a warning that the Town had not yet closed on the property, and that anyone on the property was trespassing. The only authorized use of the property was for the summer recreation program for children, and that use was covered by a lease between the Town and Andre Lavielle.

In the mid-1960s, Blanche and Andre Lavielle would operate the Chez Andre Restaurant on NYS Route 22 in Patterson.

A tax assessment notice that appearing in the October 1, 1908 edition of the Patterson Weekly News. A tax notice that appeared in the April 5, 1935 edition of the Putnam County Courier. A tax notice from January 24, 1951, indicates that a garbage district had been established. Because of limited office space, Patterson tax collector typically received tax payments at their homes for much of the 20th century.
A voting registration notice for the November 3, 1908 general election. It appeared in the October 1, 1908 edition of the Patterson Weekly News. C. A. Moline owned a farm feed and farm supply store in Patterson.

The Town Seal

The Patterson Chamber of Commerce commissioned artist and Patterson resident John Bodor to design a new Town Seal, to be used jointly by the Town and the Chamber. In April, 1971, a design was accepted by the Patterson Town Board. The design displays several images of places, events, and industries of importance in the history of the Town. The center shield displays images of agriculture, the Great Swamp, a water-powered mill, and the railroad. The image of a buck is at the top, symbolizing the last remaining large, indigenous animal still found in Patterson. Patterson's rich history from the War of Independence is symbolized by the image of the Continental soldier on the left. Patterson's predominant 20th century industry, farming, is symbolized by the image of a farmer on the right.

The seal caused some controversy because of the buck image. The antlers, according to some, were pointing the wrong way. A minor modification was made to the antlers in the late 1990s, to "correct" the image.

In the 21st century, the Town began using an alternate seal design, seen on the home page of this website. This contemporary, full color design, commemorates Patterson's significance during the War of Independence.