Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Readings: Dec. 4 - Advent 2B

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Evacuation Day: the 222nd anniversary of the Liberty Pole

Although the Friends of Historic New Utrecht, the New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association and the New Utrecht Reformed Church commemorate the Liberty Pole on Liberty Weekend each June, these three organizations also sponsored an interfaith service on Evacuation Day each November 25 with a flag-raising ceremony at the Liberty Pole. Both the service and ceremony were canceled this year because the church sanctuary has remained closed since December 2003. November 25, 2005 marks the 222nd anniversary of the evacuation and the erecting of the first Liberty Pole. The Friends need to raise $700,000 to begin repairs on both the roof and bell tower. The cost has been estimated at nearly $2 million.

The New Utrecht Reformed Church, a member of the mainline Reformed Church in America (RCA), was founded in 1677. Its minister is the Rev. Terry Troia of Staten Island. Rev. Troia also is executive director of Project Hospitality, which serves the needy.

More information is available at (718) 256-7173 and (718) 234-9268. The Friends Web site is Contributions toward restoring the church may be sent to Friends of Historic New Utrecht, 1831 84th St., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11214. Tax-deductible checks can be made out to the Friends of Historic New Utrecht Restoration Fund.

An historic account of Evacuation Day and the New Utrecht Liberty Pole follows.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Readings: Nov. 27 - Advent 1B

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Readings: Nov. 20 - Proper 29A (Reign of Christ)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

NURC in the News

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Readings: Nov. 13 - Proper 28A

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Brooklyn history on display at historic site in Bensonhurst

Friends of Historic New Utrecht

New Utrecht Reformed Church - Since 1677

Eds: For photos of the New Utrecht Historic Complex, including the scaffolding in the church, please call (718) 234-9268.


Brooklyn History on Display at Historic Site in Bensonhurst

BROOKLYN - When people interested in the history of Brooklyn visit the New Utrecht Reformed Church for the Brooklyn History Fair Saturday, Nov. 5, they'll be able to poke their heads through a side door, but not go in. Scaffolding, in place since December 2003, will block their way. But the building where activities will be centered also has its share of Brooklyn history!

"We just couldn't take a chance that someone will get hurt," says Robert Buonvino, president of Friends of Historic New Utrecht, as a campaign to raise nearly $2 million to renovate and repair the 1828 structure continues. "We hope construction can begin in the spring," he added.

The fair, an annual event, is sponsored by Borough President Marty Markowitz and Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger. Hosts are the Friends organization and the church, which was founded in 1677.

Instead of the sanctuary, where hundreds of New York City school children participated in cultural-educational programs until the building was closed, the adjacent Parish House, itself a historic landmark noted for its architecture, will be the center of fair activity, with more than a dozen historical groups and museums presenting Brooklyn memorabilia, photos, documents, artifacts and maps. Brooklyn authors Brian Merlis and Lee Rosenzweig, whose works focus on the history of Brooklyn's neighborhoods, will be among those on hand. Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia will be displayed.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 2 p.m., visitors will be offered a tour of the church's cemetery, which pre-dates the founding of the church. Early Dutch settlers are among those buried there.

Admission to the fair is free. Parking is available at the church complex, at 18th Ave. between 83rd and 84th Streets, in Bensonhurst. The D train stops nearby, at New Utrecht Ave. and 18th Ave.

In addition to the Friends of Historic New Utrecht and the New Utrecht Reformed Church, organizations participating include the Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn Theater History, The Bay Ridge Historical Society, The Canarsie Historical Society, The Canarsie History Museum, The Wyckoff House and Museum, The Scandinavian East Coast Museum, The Onderdonk House, The Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton, Weeksville Museum, The Greenpoint Monitor Museum and the City Reliquary.

The Parish House for the New Utrecht Reformed Dutch Church dates from 1892, the work of architect Lawrence B. Valk, representing a simplified Romanesque Revival style that characterized many of Valk's later structures. Few changes have been made in the original, with its large stained-glass windows, round-arched openings in the two-story brick building with pyramidal towers, turrets and gables.

Church and community organizations have been meeting in the Parish House throughout its history. They include the Women's Missionary Society, which dates from 1825. The Parish House is home to Boy Scout Troop 20, started in 1910, which has functioned longer, continuously, than any other in the nation.

The Parish House also has been home to Chinese and Korean congregations and numerous community organizations. While the old Dutch sanctuary, with its famous stained-glass windows, little "Dutch doors" leading to the pews and a pipe organ, is closed, members of the New Utrecht congregation meet in the Parish House for Sunday worship. The minister is the Rev. Terry Troia. New Utrecht is a member of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), a mainline denomination.

While the old Dutch town of New Utrecht held a strategic place in the Battle of Long Island, citizens celebrated in 1783 by erecting a "Liberty Pole" and flew an American flag with 13 stars and stripes to celebrate the departure of the British after the Revolution. On the site, a Liberty Pole, 106 feet high, still stands on the front lawn of the New Utrecht church. This pole, from the 1939 World's Fair, is the sixth to be placed there.

Near the pole, the Friends organization, the New Utrecht Liberty Pole Association and the church continue to provide educational programs for school children and adult groups, including veterans and seniors, focusing on the history of Brooklyn and the early days of the nation. They include a "Liberty Weekend" in June, a Lincoln's Birthday program and free concerts by New York City school orchestras and bands. Programs that had been held in the old church have been moved to the Parish House or other locations in Brooklyn while funds are raised for the church building restoration.

More information on the history of Brooklyn, with an emphasis on the borough's earliest years, can be obtained by calling (718) 256-7173 or logging onto and


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November 2005