The village was established in the 17th century after the land was acquired from the chief of the Amorgarichakan tribe. It began to thrive, drawing German and Dutch immigrants who manufactured naval stores, tar, and turpentine.
During the American Revolution the town was raided by a British squadron in October of 1777. The raiding party burnt boats called sloops, and many homes and barns, destroying portions of the neighborhoods Clermont and Belvedere. It was here that General Vaughn learnt of John Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga.
In 1825 Henry Barclay purchased Esopus Creek and began construction on a dam. Between 1826-27, he established a paper mill and Ulster Iron Works, creating one of the largest water-powered industries in the world.
In 1834, Congress granted the town $5,000.00 for the purpose of building a lighthouse. It was placed at the mouth of Esopus Creek. However, in 1867, Congress passed a budget to construct a newer lighthouse. This circular stone lighthouse was built in the old ones place. The new one used the mineral oil lamps from the original. This lighthouse still stands today.
In the 1950s the coastguard closed the lighthouse and it fell into disrepair. A local movement in the 1970s was successful in saving the lighthouse and placing it on the National Register. In 1986 the lighthouse and the adjacent wetlands were obtained by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy. In 1990, after 36 out of use, the lighthouse outfitted with a solar powered beacon, and was re-commissioned.
The village of Saugerties became the first commercial district to be put on the National Historic Register in 1987. Today it is known for its charming streets, great antique shops and its annual garlic festival.