Stepping Back in Time: The Story of Sleepy Hollow's Old Dutch Church
Sleepy Hollow is one of the most recognized town names in America. However, there is so much more to this historical town than many people realize. Behind the famed book, there are real people and a real church. The Old Dutch Church is the oldest church still standing in New York State and still has an active congregation. If you are booking a stay at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, then you are just down the street from this historical site.
Frederick Philipse, the Lord of Philipsburg Manor, is responsible for building the Old Dutch Church. The construction of the church took place in 1685. He built the pulpit himself, where he and his thirteen family members lie underneath the floorboards. The church sits on 2.5 acres of land and is built from local fieldstone. The walls of the church are two feet thick.
A notable feature of the church is the bell. It is ornately decorated with a variety of animals and gargoyles. Completing the carved design is the year 1685 and the bible verse in Latin: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Historic Landmark Status
In 1961, the Old Dutch Church was named a National Historic Landmark. This meant that the United States Government recognized the building as having importance to American history and culture.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
In 1820, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving was published. This classic American novel takes place in the town of Sleepy Hollow. The tale is the story of Ichabod Crane, a superstitious schoolteacher who competes with Abraham Van Brunt for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel. At one point, Crane disappears, and it is unclear whether the headless horseman or Brunt is the culprit. The story is so compelling that countless movies and TV shows have been made based on the book.
Friends of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground
In 1985, a group of caring individuals decided to form the Friends of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground organization. This nonprofit is run entirely by volunteers. Their purpose is to maintain and preserve the Old Dutch Church as a historic site.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Located next to the Old Dutch Church is the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Strolling throughout the property, you will marvel at the history located on these hallowed grounds. Grab a map before you go and take a self-guided tour of some of the most famous graves in the cemetery. You will see some familiar and famous names, such as Walter Chrysler, Elizabeth Arden, Andrew Carnegie, William Rockefeller, and Brooke Astor. You can also visit the graves of the local individuals who inspired the characters in Irving’s book.
Visiting the Old Dutch Church
If you want to visit the Old Dutch Church during your visit to Sleepy Hollow, staying at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel is a wise decision. The hotel is 2.3 miles away from the church. The drive is straight down Broadway, allowing you to be there in less than 10 minutes.
There is no on-site parking, but you can park at the cemetery and walk to the church. The grounds close at 4:30, so arrive early enough to give yourself time to walk around. The church is not open to tourists, but you can take a self-guided tour of the surrounding property and cemetery. If you would like to see the inside of the church, visit during October or attend a service on Easter or Christmas Eve.
Book your stay at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel and see this fascinating piece of American history up close.