Almost a century old by the time the Revolution began, the hamlet of Tappan holds a prominent place in the history of Orangetown, and the nation. It was a well-known crossroads and its connection to the Hudson by way of the Sparkill made it an important inland port. Until 1773, Tappan was the county seat of Orange County, and on July 4, 1774, the Orangetown Resolutions were published to protest British taxation and the occupation of Boston Harbor.
The DeClark-DeWint House, the oldest house in Rockland, was built in 1700 and used by Washington three times as his headquarters, and where he met the British commander to finalize terms for the end of the Revolutionary War on May 4, 1783. In the Tappan Dutch Reformed Church, Major John André was tried and convicted in 1780 for conspiring with Benedict Arnold to commit treason, and confined in the Casparus Mabie House, today’s ’76 House. Here, he awaited execution by hanging, which was carried out on a nearby hill on October 2, 1780.
By the early 1800s, Tappan’s role in regional trade subsided as steamships began favoring the deeper waters of Piermont and Nyack. By 1859 the Northern Railroad of New Jersey had connected Sparkill to Jersey City, and in 1870 the line was extended to Tappan, but served primarily as passenger lines.
Over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries Tappan evolved into a picturesque, mostly residential hamlet. The first post office was established in 1875 and small farms and companies operated, one of which, the Cereo Company made the nation’s first commercially produced baby food. During World War II Camp Shanks was built in part of Tappan, where soldiers trained before deployment to Europe on ground once occupied by Washington’s troops. After the war, many soldiers returned to live in Shanks Village, which was replaced by tract housing in the 1950s and 1960s.
Today, Tappan’s heritage is preserved in an 85-acre historic area. In 1993 a central section of this area was designated as a historic district and placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
Main Street ca. 1910 - Tappan’s 18th-century town center remains as distinctive today as it did in 1910. The Dutch Reformed Church is still prominent and the Casparus Mabie House, built in 1753 and rebuilt after 1897, is today’s ‘76 House. And it was in the church built here in 1716 that Major John André was tried and convicted of treason. And in the Mabie House that he awaited execution by hanging on a nearby hill in 1780. (Courtesy HSRC)
Eggers Hotel, ca. 1900 - Eggers Hotel was well suited for its location at the end of Main Street and Tappan Road. It was originally designed and built as a private residence, which later became Van Wart’s jewelry store. In 1882, Henry Eggers bought the building and converted it into a hotel. It is thought that it was a stagecoach stop because there was a candle lantern outside. If the candle was lit, there were rooms available. (OHMA)