Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
Ownership and Administration. First Reformed Church of North Tarrytown.
Significance. This church, a distinguished relic of Dutch America, is notable for its architectural and historical associations with colonial life on the Hudson. The exact date of construction is not known, but it was probably between 1697 and 1699. Frederick Philipse I, Lord of Philipsburg Manor, erected the church for his tenants. The congregation had organized by 1697, when a pastor assumed his duties and the building was dedicated.
The first significant changes in the church occurred during the War for Independence, when the special pews of the Lords of the Manor were removed, and high-backed, soft-pine pews were substituted for the plain oak tenant benches. In 1837, the building was struck by lightning and partially destroyed, and certain alterations resulted. Around 1840, the congregation built a new church in Tarrytown to serve as a branch of the old one, and after the Civil War it came to replace the original structure as the place of regular worship. From that time on, the Sleepy Hollow Church has been used only for occasional services and special programs.
Present Appearance. A partial restoration of the interior of the churchbeams, quartered oak ceiling, and pulpitwas undertaken prior to the bicentennial observance; this corrected much of the 1837 alteration. The interior is barren of decoration and somewhat bleak in character. However, the charm of the original design remains, and the building and grounds are carefully maintained by the congregation of the First Reformed Church, which owns the property. The adjacent burial ground is also well kept. Included among the graves is that of Washington Irving, who perpetuated the name of "Sleepy Hollow" for the church. The church is open to the public only on special occasions. 
NHL Designation: 11/05/61
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005