New Utrecht Reformed Church
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HISTORIC NEW UTRECHT
Left: Bob Buonvino, President of Friends of Historic New
Utrecht, points out scaffolding inside sanctuary. Note the organ is covered in
protective sheeting. Right: Scaffolding placed to shore up cracked
BROOKLYN - A church in Brooklyn known for its historic roots as well as its
modern-day vitality in the Bensonhurst community stands "silent and quiet,
awaiting further support," according to the head of a borough organization
that sponsors cultural and educational programs.
"Just as the New Utrecht church stands silent and quiet, as if awaiting the
end of this long winter, so do we await funds needed for repair and
restoration," says Robert Buonvino, president of Friends of Historic New
The sanctuary of the church, established in 1677, has been closed since
just before Christmas. The estimated cost of repair is close to $2 million.
Scaffolding has been erected from the basement of the building, which dates from
1828, through the ceiling of the sanctuary to the attic. "Now, we await the
next phase of construction," Mr. Buonvino said, adding that in order to
preserve the historic community resource "significant help will be
needed from city, state and federal resources."
"We're in a holding pattern at the moment," he said. "Silent and
quiet, we wait."
The New Utrecht Reformed Church, on Liberty Pole Boulevard (18th Ave.) between 83rd
and 84th Streets, has for many years been a community home for organizations and
church members from other denominations. Currently, all activities, including
its Sunday worship services, are being held in the New Utrecht Parish House,
itself a well known historic site.
The scaffolding was put in place to see that the roof did not collapse from snow
during the winter. "We survived," Mr. Buonvino says. "Now, with
financial help, the other work we have planned can continue." That will
involve reinforcing wooden trusses with steel plates while the scaffolding stays
in place, he explained.
Pictures of the work done so far are being posted on the recently-revamped Web
sites of the church and Friends organization.
The church grounds are easily identifiable from miles around by the
"Liberty Pole" on its front lawn, 106 feet high with a "Liberty
Eagle" on top. This is the sixth pole placed there. The first went up in
1783 when the British were leaving the shores of what was to become the United
States of America.
The church, its Parish House, cemetery and grounds dating back to Colonial Days,
are within the Reformed Church in America denomination (RCA), formerly Dutch
Reformed. The minister is the Rev. Terry Troia, who also is Executive Director of
Project Hospitality, a service for the homeless and other needy, based on Staten
Hundreds of public school students have been going into the sanctuary as part of
the Friends' educational and cultural programs each year. "With public
support, we can restore a vital part of our nation's heritage to Brooklyn, right
here. We have a magnificent treasure rivaling what we find in Williamsburg and
Boston in our own borough," the historian said.
More information on the old town of New Utrecht and other aspects of the history
of Brooklyn may be obtained by calling (718)256-7173 and (718)234-9268.
PR services donated by bhprEspeciallyForChurches March 2004