The McVickar House

The McVickar House, a Greek Revival frame house, stands on land that was originally part of the farm of William Dutcher.  In 1812, Justus Dearman, a New York City merchant, purchased the southern half of the Dutcher farm, 144 acres extending eastward from the Hudson River.  In 1849, Dearman sold his property to Gustavis Sacchi for $26,000.  Sacchi immediately resold the property to Franklin C. Field, a partner in the firm Jay and Field in New York City. Field had the property sub-divided into individual building lots establishing the village of Dearman.  On April 25, 1850, these lots were publicly auctioned at the Merchant’s Exchange in New York City. 

Building Lot #246, along with several others, was ultimately sold to the Rev. John McVickar.  McVickar was born in New York City on August 10, 1787, into a wealthy merchant family.  He was considered a brilliant student, graduating from King’s College (now Columbia) at the age of 17 in 1804.  In 1811, he took orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church and became a dynamic leader in the Episcopal Diocese of New York for over fifty years.  He married Eliza Bard in 1809, and they had nine children, only three of whom survived McVickar’s death in 1868.

In 1817, McVickar was appointed professor of moral philosophy, rhetoric and belles-lettres at Columbia.  He was superintendent of the Society for Promoting Religion and Learning in New York, served twice as acting president of Columbia, authored several books, and served as chaplain to the United States forces at Fort Columbus, Governor’s Island from 1844 to 1862.  McVickar moved to Irvington in 1852 becoming a neighbor to his good friend Washington Irving.

Two of the lots McVickar purchased, along with several lots donated by McVickar’s cousin, John Jay, were to serve as the site of a chapel school, later to become St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.  McVickar’s son, William Augustus McVickar, was appointed Missionary to Dearman in August of 1852, and on the August 17, 1852, the cornerstone was laid for the chapel school.  IThe Church of St. Barnabas was incorporated in 1858, and Reverend William A. McVickar served as the Rector of the Church until 1867.  In 1870, William A. McVickar, who had inherited Building Lot #246 after the death of his father, sold the property to John Dinkel, a local merchant.

Dinkel was a grocer who in the 1870’s had a store on the corner of Main Street and Broadway.  Dinkel sold the McVickar property in 1872 to Patrick Cannon whose daughter Mary later owned the property.  Mary married Chester R. Doremus who owned Doremus Carriage Factory located next door to the McVickar house.  In 1935, Mary sold the McVickar House property to John Fallon who in turn sold the property to Con Edison in 1957 so that they could build a small substation behind the house.  The house was rented until 1992, but after the last tenant moved out, it fell into disrepair. 

In 2002, the Village of Irvington acquired the property for the home of the Irvington Historical Society.  A major fundraising effort was undertaken by the Society to support the renovation and restoration project.  The Irvington History Center at the McVickar House opened in November 2005, and the McVickar House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.