This land of Carmel was originally inhabited by Indians of the Wappingers tribe, who, in 1691 sold the property to Dutch traders. In 1697, a wealthy New York merchant, Adolph Philipse purchased the trader’s land and was granted a patent from King William III of England for the entire tract of land which is now Putnam County. Settlers who began arriving here in 1720 became tenants of the Philipse family or of the Indians.
Also, on the night of April 26th, 1777, sixteen year old Sybil Ludington made her now famous horseback ride through Carmel and Kent summoning her father’s “Ludington’s Regiment” to repulse a British attack on Danbury, CT.
After the American Revolution, the lower section of Dutchess County was split off into several new towns that would later become Putnam County in 1812. One of these towns was Carmel which was founded in April, 1795. Carmel and the surrounding area remained primarily farmland until the mid-nineteenth century.
In the early to mid-nineteenth century, Carmel and in particular, Lake Mahopac, became a popular vacation spot for city dwellers that had discovered the area’s beautiful lakes and rural charm. Beginning in 1834, hotels, boarding houses and cottages sprang up along the lakeshore allowing throngs of visitors to enjoy swimming, boating, skating and all sorts of summer and winter activities. The Mahopac Hotel, Thompson House, Dean House and Forest House were among the largest and most popular hotels. A branch of the Harlem Division Railroad arrived in 1871 making the journey from New York City to Mahopac more convenient. The New York City and Northern Railroad was built through Carmel in 1880 and included five stations within the town.
At the county seat in the hamlet of Carmel, the Webster Act of 1893 resulted in many homes and buildings being moved off the lakeshore of Lake Gleneida. Finally, the West Branch and Croton Falls Reservoirs were completed in 1898 and 1911 respectively.
Today, Carmel is home to three places listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the Gilead Burying Ground is the final resting place of at least two dozen Revolutionary War veterans including patriot spy, Enoch Crosby. The Reed Memorial Library was dedicated in 1914. It was built by Arrietta Crane Reed as a memorial to her husband, William Belden Reed. In 2013, the library celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Putnam County Courthouse was built in 1814 and was repaired or improved several times over the years. It closed in 1988 for extensive repairs and reopened in 1994. It is still used today for Surrogate’s Court.
Courtesy of Brian Vangor