Historic Belleville Church Steeple

$2,000 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 15 people in 14 months
Please help save this important piece of American history which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The church has been struggling since then to make repairs. This campaign has been organized by Michael Perrone, president of the Belleville Historical Society. 

For over 320 years the sight of the cross has inspired countless people from the church on the bank of the Passaic River in Belleville. Spanning five centuries, Belleville's historic Dutch Reformed Church was established in 1697 at the present river front site when the town was known as the village at Second River. The church and it's ancient cemetery are National Historic sites. Also known as the "Revolutionary War church",  for it's role during George Washington's 1776 retreat, for being the site of the Battle of Second River in 1777, and for being the the final resting place of sixty-seven Revolutionary War soldiers. The church has been enlarged and rebuilt four times. The present day church was built in 1853 and incorporated original foundations of the earlier structures and original brownstones.  In 2012 Hurricane Sandy toppled the large copper cross atop the steeple and severely damaged  both the steeple and belfry. Since that time the church has struggled to make the necessary repairs.  For the past six years the church has been under the care of Pastor Michael Ortiz. He and his dedicated congregation of La Senda Antigua have worked tirelessly to maintain and repair the church.  Doing an extraordinary amount of work themselves, from renovating the sanctuary and church hall, sheetrocking, plastering, painting, installing flooring and constructing a handicapped ramp the congregation has made remarkable progress in restoring the once dilapadated church. One can imagine the challenge of repairing and maintaining a centuries old church....the last thing anyone needed was a devasting Hurricane Sandy. Repairing the towering church steeple was far beyond the congregation's ability. The church is in desperate need of a minimum of $25,000. to complete the repairs and reset the cross on top of the steeple. The contractor has offered to wait and accept installment payments for balance of the cost (another $25,000.) The roof shingles and siding on the 160' tall steeple still need to be installed. The church's inability to fund the installation of the shingles and siding has left the already completed work exposed to the elements. The church is a non-profit tax exempt organization and can provide receipts for donations which are tax deductible.

Church History:
The church was fortified during the Revolutionary War and served as the local militia headquarters of the 2nd Essex Regiment. During George Washington's retreat in November of 1776, Washington and the army camped here before proceeding into Newark for a weeklong encampment using the church as a hospital for the sick and wounded soldiers. A year later on September 12, 1776 the Battle of Second River was fought in front of the church. On July 4, 1797 the war veterans and the townspeople assembled at the church for the annual reading of the Declaration of Indeperndence and on that day voted to name the village "Belleville". The church cemetery is the final resting place of sixty-seven Revolutionary War soldiers, and others, including men who gave their lives for their country during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War.

In 1870, the first Chinese immigrants left California and headed east, establishing the first Chinese community in the eastern United States right here in Belleville. At that time there was severe anti-Chinese discrimination throughout the U.S. But the people of Belleville welcomed the new arrivals. One year later the first school for the Chinese was opened at the church parish hall. Known as the Belleville Reformed Chinese Sabbath School, the school taught English, reading, writing and Bible studies. Many Chinese joined the church and Chinese congregation members are buried here. The church cemetery is home to the first monument to the first Chinese immigrants in the eastern U.S.

In 2010 the Belleville Reformed Church with its tiny congregation  was no longer able to maintain the church and the challenge and honor of maintining the historic site and continuing the preaching of the Gospel was passed to Pastor Mike Ortiz.

The Belleville Historical society was established in 1926. From 2002-2004 we restored the once abandoned church cemetery and since then have on the morning of each 4th of July sponsored our annual Patriots Ceremony complete with a 21 gun cannon salute. For more information please visit bellevillehistory.org

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$2,000 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 15 people in 14 months
Created December 20, 2016
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