Reformed Church Dedicated as Landmark
By Ann Kuzmik
Mid-Hudson Times, Nov. 8, 2001
(used with permission)
With Saturday's perfect Fall weather as a backdrop,
the City of Newburgh celebrated its newest National
Historic Landmark, the Dutch Reformed Church. A reception
at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum on Broadway
followed the ceremonies at the old church on Grand
Harry Porr, City Manager and Master of Ceremonies,
welcomed the group on behalf of Mayor Marino, who
was not able to attend. He acknowledged the many
dignitaries and elected officials who were there,
and praised City Archives/ Engineering Technician
Betsy McKean, who coordinated the celebration,
for her wonderful work with archives and projects,
such as the Quassaick Creek Trail.
The event reflected the city's diversity, and its
many faiths, Porr pointed out. Rev. Carlos Lantis,
immediate past president of the Newburgh Preservation
Association and pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church
gave the invocation. Imam Salahuddin Muhammed,
head of Masjid al Jihad al Akbar, led the large audience
in the Pledge of Allegiance. Howard B. Major III,
Senior Pastor of Reformed Church of New Paltz and
past president of the Reformed Church Mid Hudson
Classes, gave the benediction.
The program was also a rich display of the city's
musical talents. Patty Sofokles sang The
Star Spangled Banner, and Newburgh's Cultural
Affairs Commissioner, Lillie Howard perfomed
God Bless America and God Will Take Care
of You. The South Junior High Choir, under the
directon of Dovetta Beamon, opened the ceremonies
with Of Thee I Sing America. When they closed
with Let There Be Peace on Earth, Tymisha
Thomas brought the attendees to their feet applauding
Congressman Maurice Hinchey said he was "greatly
moved and uplifted" to be there. The city's residents
reached back to another democracy for inspiration
when they built the magnificient Greek Revival structure,
Hinchey pointed out. Now, he said, the historical
designation represents not only a tribute to Greek
architecture, but also a revival of Newburgh and
the Hudson Valley.
Bernadette Castro, New York State Commissioner
of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, accepted
the bronze plaque with the official designation from
James R. Pepper, Assistant Regional Director
of the National Parks Service. The national landmark
status helps open the doors to funding for the church's
"If the residents take care of historical
preservation, one day, the historical preservation
takes care of them," Castro remarked. The
Dutch Reformed Church is "a reflection of the people
who built it...who felt excellence was what [they]
deserved," Pepper noted. He went on to praise
William Krattinger, of the New York State
Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Field Office, for writing a "truly outstanding nomination"
for the church's national landmark designation.
Carmella Mantello, Hudson River Valley Greenway
Communities Council, and Assemblyman Thomas Kirwan,
David Schuyler, a professor at Franklin &
Marshall College, and author of Apostle of Taste:
Andrew Jackson Downing, was the guest speaker.
He talked of the city's architectural masterpieces
created by Downing, Vaux, Withers, and Davis, many
of which fell to Urban Renewal.
"I hope this building will stand as a symbol of Newburgh's
rebirth and a testimony to the resilience of the
human spirit," said Schuyler.
The church has reflected the city's fortunes since
it was built, said James Hoekema, president
of the Dutch Reformed Church Restoration Committee.
"[It] will henceforth serve as a conspicuous and
characteristic landmark, indicative of the refined
taste, discrimination, and sense of classical beauty
of the inhabitants of Newburgh," Alexander Jackson
Davis, the church's designer, wrote in 1835.
In the latter decades of the 20th century, the church
became symbolic of the city's decline. Now, said
Hoekema, a restored church will be a symbol of the