The Village of Suffern was founded in 1796. John Suffern, first Rockland County judge, 1798-1806, after whom the town is named, settled near the base of the Ramapo Mountains in 1773. It was originally called New Antrim, after Suffern's hometown in Ireland. New Antrim's location was considered strategically important in the American Revolutionary War due to its location near Ramapo Pass.

        During the war, Commander-in-Chief General George Washington and his regiment made camp in the village. Lafayette Avenue, the main street of Suffern, is named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Marie Joseph Paul Yves Rock Gilbert du Motier, better known as the Marquis de Lafayette. On August 25, 1781, French troops encamped in New Antrim. A historical marker on Washington Avenue, near Lafayette Avenue, identifies the area as "Rochambeau's Encampment 1781-1782". Comte de Rochambeau made his headquarters at John Suffern's New Antrim Tavern. Thousands of French and Revolutionary soldiers camped here on their way to Yorktown, Virginia where they and 3,000 Virginia militiaLord Charles Cornwallis and his forces at the Siege of Yorktown, a pivitol battle that ultimately led to victory led by Lafayette, fought British General

        Smith's Clove, Sidman's Clove - From Suffern to Monroe was a main route of travel through western Hudson Highlands. The main road was Albany Post Road, one of oldest roads in the state, which served as the stagecoach line between Albany, New York and New York City and was heavily traveled in winter when the Hudson River froze over. The 20 miles (32 km) of road through the Pass became the Orange Turnpike.  New York State Thruway now runs through the Pass. The South entrance to the town was garrisoned during the Revolution. (now Route 17). In 1800, tolls were collected until 1886 to maintain and improve the road. 

        The first railroad line across Rockland County (the Erie Railroad) was built in 1841 and ran from Piermont to Ramapo. By 1851, the line was extended to Lake Erie, and was considered an engineering marvel.

        In 1897, Avon Products, known then as California Perfume Company, built a small laboratory in Suffern; by 1971 the lab would grow into the 323,000-square-foot  Avon Suffern Research and Development facility. In late 2005, construction was finished on a state-of-the art, 225,000-square-foot facility that would become Avon's global hub for research and development. The new building was constructed on the same site as their previous R&D facility, which was demolished for site parking.

        In 1916, what would become New York State Route 59, which reached from Nyack to Spring Valley in 1915, was extended to Suffern and Ramapo Hamlet.

        In 1924, Lafayette Theatre, also named for the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette open its doors.

        In 1972, the Salvation Army moved their School for Officer Training to a 30 acre site in Suffern.