Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Old Dutch Church Sleepy Hollow, New York

The Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow has undergone many changes through the centuries. Fires wreaked havoc on the site, renovations were done, and than stripped away. But through resilience and neighborly pride the church has stood for over 300 years. It's believed to be the oldest church in New York state, it's certainly one of it's most famous.

When Frederick Philipse a very wealthy and prominent man relocated himself and his family to the area the parcel of land was a just few dozen gravestones. With his massive estate nearby he decided to build a church for his new neighbors. Following the passing of his wife a few years later. Frederick quickly remarried and was urged by his newlywed bride to build a more permanent structure for the community. Massive natural limestone rocks were used to strengthen the integrity of the building. In 1697 the first congregation and Pastor christened the church.

In 1961 the church was deemed a National landmark. It's not just the history or gothic construction that attracts so many visitors. It's the same hallowed grounds the Headless Horseman haunted Ichabod Crane in the legendary tale. In fact several of the deceased located within the grounds are believed to have been models for the characters in the book. Eleanor and Katerina Van Tassel are both believed to have been the inspiration for Katrina Van Tassel. A likeness to antagonist Brom Bones is also resting peacefully here. So are Joseph and Samuel Youngs, both or one of these men were believed to have been the basis for the Ichabod Crane character. According to the legendary short story by Washington Irving. This same cemetery is the final resting place of the headless Hessian who haunted poor Ichabod.
The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent, whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace.

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