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New Utrecht Reformed Church

328 Years

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Friends of Historic New Utrecht

Eds: Photos of scaffolding and other parts of closed historic site available at (718) 234-9268.

Immediate release

Brooklyn - Just as a Brooklyn historic building sits locked in the cold of winter, so do the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would help set it free.

"For over 300 years, the New Utrecht Reformed Church has given to the citizens, and now this 'historic shrine' is itself in need of their help," says Robert Buonvino, president of the Brooklyn historic organization Friends of Historic New Utrecht.

"Funds from our matching grants must be freed up," he explains, "as we complete work on blueprints before we can start the bidding for the extensive repair and restoration of the building." He hopes bids can be sought in the next few months - after a kind of "spring thaw" releasing more than $500,000 in matching money, much of it from New York State. The cost of bringing the Bensonhurst building back so it can again be used as a community resource is estimated at $2 million.

The most recent matching grant is for $30,000 from the Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge. In a letter to Susan Hanyen, vice president of the church board, Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, said the money is to be used to help fund roof, ceiling and tower repairs of the building, which dates back to 1828. New Utrecht Reformed Church was organized before the founding of the nation. Its first building was nearby, where a 17th century old Dutch cemetery that New Utrecht still maintains is located.

In the letter, the Conservancy, noting that receipt of the grant depends upon raising matching funds, commended New Utrecht for "recognizing the historic importance of this sacred site and maintaining it for future generations."

Entering the second full year when the stone and wood building, which had been visited by thousands of school children who attended educational and cultural programs arranged by the Friends organization, has been shut, Mr. Buonvino said, "the help of all citizens - with small as well as large contributions" - is needed now. That includes not only private citizens but banks, insurance companies and other businesses, "all willing to share in preserving Brooklyn's unique place in America's history."

The minister is the Rev. Terry Troia, also the executive director of Staten Island-based Project Hospitality, an organization that assists the homeless and others who are destitute.

Contributions for repair and restoration of the landmark may be sent to Friends of Historic New Utrecht, 1831 84th St., Brooklyn, NY 11214. Checks, tax deductible, should be made out to the Friends of Historic New Utrecht Restoration Fund or to the New Utrecht Reformed Church, designated for the Restoration Fund.

Persons interested in learning more about Brooklyn's early history are invited to call (718) 256-7173 or (718) 234-9268. They also may log onto the Friends' Web site at www.historicnewutrecht.org.


Public relations services donated by bhprEspeciallyForChurches January 2005


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