One of the key architectural landmarks of Newburgh is the old Dutch Reformed Church. It’s identifiable by the four signature columns, akin to a Greek temple. At 132 Grand Street, you can find this location north of the Free Library in Newburgh. In the modern-day, the church is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
No matter your leanings on divinity, the Dutch Reformed Church is an exciting location because of the ongoing struggle to preserve its glory. Since the mid-20th century, a ton of damage has been done to the church. However, preservationists continue to work on the building, having recently restored the four columns. If you wish to visit this particular location, you can admire the architectural integrity of the 19th century.
Early History of the Church
In 1835, Alexander Jackson Davis built a church in the style of the ancient Greek Revival. It remains his final building to survive with the artistic vision he envisioned. Initially, it contained a spherical dome until it was taken down in 1843. The Dutch Reformed Church began as a simple congregation. Only a few members took part in the proceedings. It took until long after the Civil War to pay off the outstanding debts from its construction.
What Led to the Destruction of the Church
In the early 20th century, storms ravaged the building. A series of disastrous events also took place between the ’50s and ’60s, which resulted in the current state of the church. In 1950, a hurricane completely blew the entire roof off. The church was able to repair the top and even added new technologies such as telephones. However, significant damage was already done. By 1967, deconsecrating forced the religious population to move out of the building.
The church was set to be demolished before city historian Helen Gearn suggested otherwise. In 1970, the general public prevented the church’s demolition thanks to their addition to the National Register of Historic Places. However, preservation proved to be complicated. The building was mostly decaying due to a lack of upkeep, which costs a lot of money to restore. By the 21st century, there were serious attempts to repair the broken-down church.
Despite efforts, the ceiling collapsed in 2012. There are also cracked walls and scattered debris within the temple. Nonetheless, preservationists are still looking to restore the building to its former 19th-century glory.
It’s estimated the Dutch Reformed Church needs up to eight million dollars for restoration projects. The public continues to seek state grants for stabilization. Potential winter storms could result in more damage to the building. NYC-based developer Alembic is currently working to redevelop the entire church.
Nobody knows how much longer the church can last. Whether or not it can be restored, it’s still a good idea to see it while you can. It remains one of the very few Greek-inspired buildings within the United States. At the very least, the Dutch Reformed Church is a prime example of the community getting together to work on historic preservation.
Want to learn about the history of Newburgh? The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands seeks to protect, preserve, and promote the heritage of the surrounding areas.
Information provided by https://lprorestoration.net/