Bech Family History
Edward Bech was born
May 4, 1812 in Denmark. His father, Jorgen, a friend of Crown
Prince Frederik, was a successful merchant. Edward was educated
at the University of Copenhagen and later went to the Hanseatic
city of Lubeck for a commercial education. He arrived in New
York in 1838. After working for others he formed his own trading
firm in 1842 which continued for 47 years until the death
of his son George. Also in 1838 he became the Danish Consul
in New York, a position that he held until 1858. He was knighted
by the Danish king on Oct. 5, 1854.
In addition to his
own funds he inherited large sums of money from his father.
moved to Poughkeepsie in 1851 and lived at 57 Market St.,
Poughkeepsie, for about 10 years. He became involved with
iron" trade and started the Tuckerman and Bech Iron
Company, a thriving riverfront industry that prospered with
of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad. He was also
a partner in the Cunard Steamship Company.
In 1863 Bech purchased
Hickory Grove, a 65 acre farm along the Hudson River which
he named "Rosenlund." He hired Detlef, Lienau a
prominent architect and fellow countryman, to design the estate.
The "Hickory Grove" main house was still useable
so Lienau drew up the plans for a mansion, barn, carriage
house and gatehouse. The service buildings had been constructed
when Bech died in 1873 terminating the project. The mansion
was never built, but the drawings, displayed in the architectural
drawing section of this web site, are part of the Avery Collection
at Columbia University. At his death Edward Beck left an estate
valued at $1,837,342. His son George continued managing his
businesses until his death in 1890. His widow kept Rosenlund
until her death in 1900. In 1908 the property was sold to
the Marist Brothers who later founded Marist College.
The three service buildings
now known as Greystone, St. Peter's and the Kieran Gate House
were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in
Edward Bech's contribution
was his vision of building up the iron industry in the
of Poughkeepsie. He saw Poughkeepsie as the center, the hub
of a four spoked industry with coal coming in from the
iron ore from the North, both economically transported via
water, with the processing done in New York, Brooklyn,
England and Boston. It was to accomplish this dream that
a great railroad bridge was built in Poughkeepsie. The
bridge has not been used since 1974 when it was badly
damaged by fire.