Old Dutch Church Access Project
Friends of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground
on behalf of Friends of the Old Dutch Church & Burying GroundTARRYTOWN, NY
Around 1682, a ship brought Frederick Philipse, a Dutch immigrant who had established himself as one of New Amsterdam’s most prominent citizens, up the Hudson River to a small inlet called Slaepershaven, or Sleepy Haven. Only three short years later, built largely with slave labor, a house of worship styled very much like the Netherlands church of his boyhood, was erected on the hill just north of his grist mill. Today we know it as the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. Ever since, 332 years now, the faithful and the visitor, (none more famous than the Father of our Country, George Washington), have set foot on these hallowed grounds.
A walk through the Burying Ground today is to walk through the story of our nation. Plots bearing the patriot names of community forebears abound … Martling, Wildey, Buckout, Requa. The Founder of the Foster Memorial African Methodist Church, the construction of which was partly financed by the Old Dutch Church, is buried at the northern tip. Just across the road in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is Washington Irving’s gravesite. Not even a hundred paces from the church itself is the gravestone of the author’s muse, Catrina VanTassel, and even nearer still the legendary grave of the Hessian, with the misunderstood patriot, Hulda, just steps away.
The bell in the belfry, forged in 1685, to this day summons worshipers on Sunday morning, welcomes a bride as she makes her way toward a nervous groom, tolls at the remembrance of a life well-lived. For these many years, but for a few during the Revolution, the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow has been a sacred sight, a cultural touchstone, a National Landmark, and the most important historic site in our Villages.
But to anyone with mobility limitations the Old Dutch Church and its Burying Ground is unavailable. A long steep incline presents the first obstacle, oddly-spaced steps on a crumbling foundation make entrance a hazardous impossibility for anyone in a chair or walker or even on crutches, getting a glimpse of Catrina’s “plump as a partridge” face is a challenge to those of unsure gait.
This is where you, and hundreds of others like you, come in and help. The congregation of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, and the Friends of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground, have developed plans to make the church and Burying Ground fully accessible to any and all. These plans, drawn by award-winning historic architect Joanne Tall, and enthusiastically approved by the New York State Historic Preservation Office, sensitively address the challenges that prevent full participation in the life of building and historic monuments.
As the Old Dutch Church is a treasure to our entire community, our Sponsors’ Committee welcomes and encourages the community to participate in making accessibility a reality. Our forefathers and mothers established this church and Burying Ground, and every generation since has cared for it. Today we have a unique opportunity to build on their gracious legacy as we work to make this community treasure available to all people regardless of ability, not just for today, but for generations to come.
So please, let’s partner together, and experience together, the satisfaction of having done our part for today, and for tomorrow. You can help now by giving to our campaign and no amount is too small. Thank you for your generosity and support.
BEFORE PROPOSED RENOVATIONS VIEW 1
AFTER PROPOSED RENOVATIONS VIEW 1
BEFORE PROPOSED RENOVATIONS VIEW 2
AFTER PROPOSED RENOVATIONS VIEW 2
*Donations to the Friends of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground, a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization are totally tax deductible.