DRC exterior

The former Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh in 2006.

Background


The former Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh, New York, is an outstanding Greek Revival building designed in 1835 by Alexander Jackson Davis.

The monumental structure borrows proportions, siting, and details from classical Greek precedents. Intended as a symbol of the community's enlightened taste, it commanded a dominant view over the Hudson. The DRC is "the greatest surviving ecclesiastical commission of America's greatest architect of the era" according to J. Winthrop Aldrich, former New York Deputy Commissioner of Historic Preservation.

Deconsecrated since 1967, the structure has suffered severely on the exterior, although the sweeping interior is remarkably well preserved. Long appreciated by architectural historians, the building was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001. In 2002, the Newburgh Preservation Association funded the building's Historic Structure Report, delivered April 2003. In the next year, foundations and drainage were repaired, and the first window was restored. In 2005 the DRC was named one of the "100 Most Endangered Sites" in the world by World Monuments Fund. In 2006, all four columns were restored. In 2007, an exterior lighting system began nighttime illumination.

Explore this website to learn more about the building's significance, setting,and early history; the architect and his circle; and the structure's later history, and why it was declared a landmark. Learn about the progress we've made in the last few years, the organizations that have supported us, the events we've held, and how our efforts have been covered in the press.

For background, see DRC Press Kit



DRC interior in October 2012
Interior of the DRC in October 2012

Sadly, in December 2012, a major portion of the plaster ceiling collapsed and fell to the floor, causing damage to the pews and setting back restoration prospects considerably.

 

About this Website

This website was intially created in 2002, when a group of concerned citizens banded together to see what could be done to restore the former Dutch Reformed Church. The "restoration committee" was formed in response to a challenge from William Krattinger of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He wanted to nominate the building as a National Historic Landmark, but success would likely depend on there being a local "friends" group supporting the action. With that goal in mind, a group started working on the effort to restore the DRC.

Initially called the "Dutch Reformed Church Restoration Committee," the group discovered that a related group already existed, called the Newburgh Preservation Association. Though largely inactive, NPA had current officers, and the two groups agreed to merge, so that DRC fund-raising could begin immediately under the aegis of the NPA's non-profit status. This arrangement continued for about ten years, with the DRC the primary (but not the only) project of the NPA. After several reversals, difficulties in executing contracts, and the loss of some key volunteers, the NPA voted in 2014 to remove the DRC from their agenda.

This website desribes the building, its history, and the restoration efforts made during the period when DRC restoration was part of the NPA program.

While volunteer efforts have slowed to trickle, a new organization is being formed. In the meantime, this site was modified in 2016 to present updated information.


Last updated: January 3, 2016   Website by HDE. Please report website issues to the editor.