By 1782, more than a century of settlement and eight years of military occupation had left much of the Hudson River's waterfront deforested. Nevertheless, the Quartermaster Department, responsible for securing the army's living quarters, found a suitable site for a winter camp here. Protected by the fortifications at West Point ten miles downriver, this 1600-acre site had a nearby stream and enough timber to build and heat nearly 600 buildings.
When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the cantonment's buildings were auctioned to the public and dismantled, and the site was divided into smaller farms. Until his death in 1844, local veteran Jabesh Atwood farmed the parcel atop the hill where the cantonment's central building, the "Temple of Virtue," once stood. William L. McGill then purchased the property and enlarged it to 220 acres.
In 1932, the local community celebrated "Temple Hill Day" to recall the camp's history. The National Temple Hill Association formed the following year to purchase the land and preserve Revolutionary War artifacts. During the 1960s, the association reconstructed the "Temple of Virtue" and erected other buildings before New York State acquired the property in 1967.