1609: In The Beginning…
In 1609, Dutch Settlers set sail to North America and landed in the vicinity of what is known today as the North East of America including New York. Back during this time, Staten Island was known in Dutch as Staaten Eyelandt. New York City area was known as New Amsterdam.
1650s: New Land, Same Faith
Around the 1650s, Dutch Settlers knew the importance of their faith. Now with new discovered land to them of the new world, it was time to continue what they were taught from their ancestors, traditions from generation to generation of the story of Jesus Christ and our Almighty God above. By 1665, it was time to build a church that they would call the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Staaten Eyelandt in the Niu Nederlands.
1683: First Ordained Minister In The New World
Rev. Petrus Tesshenmacker is the First ordained minister in the United States of America (via Reformed Church on Staten Island.) The same Rev. Petrus built what is known today as part of the Frederick Law-Olmsted farmhouse in 1685. Rev. Tesshenmacker was killed after he relocated to Schenectady by French and Indians in a brutal massacre and was scalped to death.
1696: Voorlezer Kroessen begins documenting Church Baptisms
They ended up having religious gatherings near Oude Dorp (few miles south of the Narrows.) These religious gatherings are lead by a gentleman named Henderyck Kroessen, Voorlezer, a.k.a. the first school teacher in the United States of America / Nieuw Nederlands. Kroessen is also responsible for keeping the church’s first baptism recordings in a book which is still in the archives at the current Reformed Church on Staten Island site. Our burial ground began with the Corsen family around this time period. The Cemetery is kept up and maintained today by the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church to this day. In recent years, we have worked with local organizations to restore old headstones of our U.S. Veterans from the wars of 1812 and The American Revolutionary Wars to preserve the legacy for generations to come to never forget these men. Annually, during our Wreaths Across America event we still remember these men who sacrificed their lives.
1770s: United States of America & The Revolution
On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain. On July 4, 1776, Congress voted to accept the Declaration of Independence, marking July 4 as Independence Day. It has been recorded that during the American Revolutionary War period, British soldiers ignited the wooden structure church on fire. It was burned down to the ground as well as other historic churches throughout the New York City area like Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel Church. But it was quickly rebuilt.
1890's: Resurrection of The Church
In 1896, the Reformed Church on Staten Island was re-built by James G. Burger and in 1898 a Sunday School room was added on by a magician and architect named Oscar S. Teale. Teale worked alongside the infamous Harry Houdini for many years and went on to becoming the first president of the American Magicians Society. The society is still active today in New York. Teale went on to designing many other churches in New York and New Jersey for the remainder of his life.
2010's: Not Your Ordinary Church
Since creation of the church, it has always served a purpose to be a location for the community of Port Richmond neighborhood and beyond. Our church in 2010 became a tool for the 'Film Community' and has been used as a Filming and Holding Location for known American Television series like HBO's Boardwalk Empire to Hulu's Wu Tang Clan just to name a few... Have you spotted our beautiful church in a movie or television show? Let us know!
2019: History Day Marks 395 Years of Great History
On October 6th, 2019, The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church on Staten Island celebrated 395 years of great history by hosting a 'History Day' with hot dogs, cemetery tours and celebrating all things history as the church served as a hub for the Port Richmond area. A special dinner was also served on this day to recreate the New Dorp ‘Rose and Crown Tavern’ where General Howe addressed his officers and the Battle of Long Island was planned there in the summer of 1776.
2020-Beyond: The Pandemic Age
In 2019, the world was struck with a never-before-seen global pandemic which halted our world. The Covid-19 pandemic was compared to the likes of the Black Plague and the Spanish Flu pandemics. We launched our official YouTube channel which enabled us to video record our weekly Sunday services to continue praising the Lord and spreading the gospel to our congregants and beyond with social distancing. By the Summer of 2021, in-person services started up again. In the summer of 2022, we hosted our first ever Film Festival, ‘Staten Island Summer of Shorts Film Festival’ in conjunction with the Historic Port Richmond Preservation Association. We hope to see you at one of our services in the near future. If you cannot attend, you can tune in virtually every weekend on our YouTube channel here at this link below.
Sources: Staten Island Reformed Protestant Dutch Church archives, newspapers.com, Records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church on Staten Island, Richmond County, N.Y., in the former town of Northfield and now the Reformed Church at Port Richmond in the Borough of Richmond, City of New York, 1790-1871, Staten Island Historical Society, US Library of Congress.
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