Sinterklaas and the toymaker

The Old Dutch Church welcomes children to special Christmas events with a Dutch flavor.

Since 1697

Infants are baptized at Old Dutch today, just as they have been for well over 300 years.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving made the Burying Ground the haunt of the Headless Horseman in his well-known story.

The Church That Inspired the Legend

Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its descent, whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity, beaming through the shades of retirement.... To look upon this grassgrown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace.__The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

When Washington Irving set his ghost story about the Headless Horseman at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, he made the church world-famous. Ever since the publication of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1819-20, visitors have come to see where Ichabod Crane led the choir and courted Katrina Van Tassel among the old gravestones in the churchyard, and looked for the grave of the Headless Horseman in the Old Burying Ground.

The church was already old when Irving first saw it, when he was a teenager. It was built in 1685 and formally organized as Dutch Reformed in 1697. It served as the congregation's home for imore than 150 years, until a new building was constructed. Even then, it was retained for worship on summer Sundays and special holidays. This custom continues today.

1685 BellIf God is for us, who can ever be against us? __Romans 8:31

This inscription on the bell that hangs in the belfry of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow has been a comfort to the congregation through war and peace, personal joys and tragedies, since it was commissioned in Holland and installed in the belfry. Most historians date the church's construction to 1685, the year engraved on the bell.

The church is recognized as the oldest extant church in New York and a National Historic Landmark. The Old Dutch Burying Ground, which surrounds it on three acres, is believed to predate the church. Washington Irving is buried just up the hill, in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery adjacent.

Interior Old Dutch Church of Sleepy HollowDuring Holy Week and Easter, the Reformed Church holds Good Friday services and an Easter Sunrise service at the Old Dutch Church. Summer worship services at Old Dutch feature "Seven Sundays of Worship and Music," with guest musicians each Sunday morning during the season.

Other events at Old Dutch include Christmas Eve candlelight services, organ concerts and the Old Dutch Festival in the fall. Tours are scheduled on summer weekend afternoons. The Reformed Church partners with Historic Hudson Valley to present several dramatic readings of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in the fall, and Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol."

 An engaging history of the church is now available from Friends of Old Dutch. The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow: Legends and Lore of the Oldest Church in New York by Janie Couch Allen and Elinor Griffith may be purchased from The Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns, Proceeds go toward preservation and upkeep of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground.

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Views of Old Dutch

The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow & Burying Ground, courtesy of Nathan Gargano. 

Honoring 333 Years

Old Dutch Church book coverIn 1685, when it was built in the wilderness north of New York City, the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow brought comfort and community to isolated pioneer families. Succeeding generations treasured the old church, the only house of worship in a wide area until 1837, when members of Old Dutch built a larger church nearby then another a few years later. Yet somehow they didn't abandon the old church, which continues to this day to host the congregation every summer for worship services. What was it about the church on the Pocantico River, made famous by Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Read about its rich history and colorful characters in The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow: Legends and Lore of the Oldest Church in New York. It is available from the church office at (914) 631-4497, or order it online here.

In the Media

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct. 23, 2014

Searching for Ancestors?

Genealogists researching family history at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow may wish to consult church records posted to the Church Registers page. See: The First English Record Book, published in 1931. Also posted are two books of burial records, one published in 1926 and the second in 1953, and a link to the First Record Book of 1715.