Mystery Bridge Nr. 134: The Bridge “Daheim”

Photo by Geoff Hobbs

BHC Mystery Bridge

The 132nd mystery bridge takes us to Duchess County, New York and to the Hitchcock Estate near Millbrook. The estate was originally established through the purchase and consolidation of five farmsin 1889  by Charles Dieterich, a German entrepreneuer and acetylene gas mongul, who founded the Union Carbide Company in 1917.  Addison Mizner designed the four-story 38-room mansion which Dieterich named “Daheim” (“Home”) in 1912. The mansion was characterized for being late-Victorian, interpreted for having Queen Anne style or Bavarian Baroque architecture by many critics. The mansion has turrets, verandas, and gardens, as well as large gatehouse, horse stables, and other outbuildings.The mansion changed hands many times before the Hitchcock Family (William, Thomas and Margaret (Peggy). It was later handed down to Timothy Leary, who was famous for the psychedelic movement in the 1960s. The complex has been sitting vacant for over four decades, yet it has a lot of surprises in terms of its history- not just in terms oft he architecture, but also oft he families who had owned Daheim.

And this takes us to one of the accessories of the Hitchcock Estate, the stone arch bridge. Geoff Hubbs found this postcard and posted it to bridgehunter.com recently, although another postcard with another view of the bridge can be found on eBay. It features a three-span stone arch bridge spanning a body of water that has long since been covered in soil and grass. It featured a guard house also made of stone. Judging by the angle of the bridge compared to the other postcards, the roadway and the arches seemed curved. The bridge has long since been removed but its missing history can be added to the mysteries that Daheim has in general.

In particular:

  1. When was the bridge built?
  2. Who designed and constructed the bridge?
  3. How long was it in service before it was torn down?
  4. When was the bridge removed and why?

These bridge questions can be tied into the questions we have about the families that had owned the estate prior to ist abandonment, including their lifestyles, their backgrounds in business and the like, their role in the expansion and/or upkeep of the estate, etc. What we do know is a circumneutral bog lake (a spring fed calcareous body of water that usually supports the vegetation of both acidic bogs and calcareous marshes) was discovered by scientists in 2003 and efforts were being taken to preserve and restore it because of ist rarity. It is unknown how this is in direct relation with the estate and whether it plays a role in restoring the estate itself in the future. We do know that it belongs to one of the secrets that the Hitchcock Estate has to offer.

It’s doubtful that there is a connection between the Hitchcock Family and Alfred Hitchcock, the famous horror story producer. But we do know that the Hitchcock Estate- Daheim- would be a perfect scene for an Alfred Hitchcock film because of all the dirt it can dig up. The bridge itself is one of many examples of mysteries the estate has to offer……

 

bhc george floyd

10 thoughts on “Mystery Bridge Nr. 134: The Bridge “Daheim”

  1. Locals thought I could go on the property, but alas o could not. I am going to write a letter to the estate asking for permission. Someone owns it. It has been renovated over the years and there are multiple groundskeepers. I think the owner is being kept a mystery although it may be someone in the family who owned it through the 1960s. A local antique dealer thinks the bridge still exists. I have pictures of the gatehouse on Route 44. Original creator of the state was Charles Francis Dietrich who was born in Germany. He accumulated his fortune in the US in acetylene gas. He bought up a lot of farms to create the estate. Most of the construction was in the 1890s. He wanted to recreate the world of his childhood- castles, stone gateways, bridges. He used artists and stone masons he brought over from Germany, Italy, and Iberians. A cow barn on the premises was like a castle. He dammed the Wappingers Creek to make a large lake. This info is from A History of the Town of Washington and Millbrook by Carmine Di Arpino. I have pictures of the gatehouse a bridge may be behind it but this time of year you can’t really tell. I will write the estate to see if I can get permission to get a picture and go on the property.

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