Ever stop and gaze at something aged and speculate who or why was it made? I do and the
older I get the more I seem to inquire. When I looked at the Town Hall building there was so many questions of who, what,
where, and when leaping out at me, that I knew I had to dig into its history and find out what makes it so intriguing.
In the latter, part of 1939 and into the early part of 1940 there were a few things happening that helped pave the
way for the town hall building. First, there was a growing need for the fire department to have a permanent roof over their
heads so on March 18, 1940, the Town Board met with the Fire Commissioners to consider building a Town building. The first
obstacle was where the money to build it would come from. The population of Beekman was 790 and the average family weekly
income was around fifty Dollars. The local Politicians were not going to saddle the residents with the cost; they would never
be elected again. So, a committee of three, William Gardner, Willis Place and Chester Reed were appointed to meet with a representative
of the W.P.A. This was a long shot because the Roosevelt Administration had just about shut down the W.P.A.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a program during the depression that employed more than two million workers
a month. They built roads, bridges, dams, and large public buildings across America. The WPA also employed writers, artists,
and musicians it help America get back up on its feet.
Commissioners frustrated in their effort to get results met again with the Town Board on June 22,1940 to further discuss the
plans of a Town Building. That resulted in a committee of two, William Gardner and Mr. Frank appointed to meet with Mr. John
Mack for Legal advice. John Mack was a District Attorney from 1907
to 1912 and he served as New York State Supreme Court Justice until his retirement in 1949. The Gardner and Mack families
were long time residents. John Mack is credited with starting Franklin D. Roosevelt on his political career.
in our neighboring town of Pawling Thomas Dewey had started running for the 1940 Republican nomination and at this time he was campaigning
for the Republican nomination for President. He served as district
attorney of New York and took up residence at his working farm on Quaker Hill in Pawling. He first ran for governor in 1938,
but lost, and later elected three times, 1942, 1946 and 1950. He ran for president twice, losing
both times, once to his Dutchess County neighbor, Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, resident of Hyde Park. Their contest was the
first time in the history of the nation that two presidential candidates lived in the sameCounty.
With all this in place Bill Gardner,
the Town Supervisor convinced John Mack of the need of a Town Building that would be a benefit to all. John
Mack took that message to his friend and Franklin Roosevelt's
involvement with Dutchess County building projects opened once more.
On August 2,1940 the Town Board offered a resolution
which was unanimously carried to hold a special election at the Sylvan Grange Hall in Beekmanville on the 24th
of August. The resolution was to erected and construct on its lot in Poughquag a Town Hall and building for town purposes
at an expense not to exceed $ 23,000 of which $8,000 is to be contributed by the Town of Beekman and the
Balance by the W.P.A. The town would issue a $1,000 bond each year for eight years to pay the $8,000. The election of the
24th resulted in 160 voters casting a vote of 135 yes and 25 no’s. (In 1940, the number of registered Beekman
voters was 365, resulting in a 45% turnout.) In addition, at a meeting on Dec.30th 1940, the
board voted to buy the adjoining lot across from the M.E.Church. The lot owned by Fred Homes. The W.P.A. projects ended once America entered World War II on December
7, 1941. The last building for which FDR helped secure funding was the Beekman Town Hall it finished in 1942.