Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Liberty Weekend" May 31-June 1 on historic Bensonhurst church grounds

New Utrecht Reformed Church
New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association
Friends of Historic New Utrecht


BROOKLYN - The New Utrecht Reformed Church grounds in Bensonhurst will have a new look Saturday, May 31, and Sunday, June 1, during "Liberty Weekend," this year marking the centennial of the New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association. The first pole was erected on the site in 1783.

A Liberty Pole ceremony on the church's front lawn, at 84th St. and 18th Ave., will be conducted Sunday at 1:45 p.m. after a weekend of events including a "Living History Civil War Encampment" on the church grounds, open to the public starting Saturday at 10 a.m. Re-enactors in authentic uniforms will be from the 14th Brooklyn Regiment, Co. H, along with Revolutionary War soldiers and Winslow Battery 'D'. There also will be a Civil War-era cannon on the church lawn.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. the InterSchool Orchestra Symphonic Band gives a concert. All events are free. Parking is available in the church compound, near bus and subway lines.

Historians from the Friends of Historic New Utrecht also will be giving tours Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. of the New Utrecht Cemetery, which pre-dates the founding of the church, at 85th St. and 16th Ave., and a "Salute to War Veterans and Revolutionary War Gen. Nathaniel Woodhull" at the cemetery Sunday at 1:20 p.m.

The tours of the old Dutch cemetery with its weather-worn tombstones provide a unique examination of life in the early days of Brooklyn, before it got its name. The cemetery dates back to 1654. Woodhull died of wounds nearby and is buried on Long Island. The ceremony will be held at his New Utrecht monument.

The Sunday cemetery events will be preceded by a worship service in the New Utrecht Reformed Church Parish House at 11 a.m. and a parade from the church along 84th St. to the cemetery.

"This year is especially significant," says Rose G. Lood, a church officer and president of the Liberty Pole Association, "because it was 100 years ago that our association was incorporated to care for and preserve" the New Utrecht Liberty Pole. This pole, 104 feet tall, is the sixth to be erected at the site. The first one was put up by the Village of New Utrecht 225 years ago to celebrate the departure of the British.

More information about the history of New Utrecht is available by calling 718-256-7173, the Friends of Historic New Utrecht, organized in 1997 to inform and educate about the history of the Old Town of New Utrecht (southwest Brooklyn), which existed from 1661 to 1894, and to support the preservation of its historic landmarks. Friends president is Robert M. Buonvino.

The church, founded in 1677, is within the Reformed Church in America (RCA). The minister is the Rev. Terry Troia of Staten Island.

Many of the church's community events are held in the Parish House while the church building next door undergoes a $2 million restoration and repair.

Liberty Weekend is supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation.

The Friends Web site is at Inquiries may be sent to

Especially for Churches services donated.


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