Our church was founded on land given by Col. Henry Beekman, founder of the Rhinebeck community. A member Robert Livingston, co-drafted the Declaration of Independence. Other members fought in the Revolutionary War. Many soldiers of the War rest in our church cemetery.
In 1709, Robert Livingston sold 6,000 acres, now known as Germantown to Governor Hunter for the purpose of settling a colony of German refugees from the Palatine provinces of the Rhine. This colony is said to have comprised of 342 families and more than 1,200 people. On shipboard there were two organized congregations, Lutheran and German or High Dutch Reformed.
A colony of 37 families moved southward to the lands of Henry Beekman. Records show that confirmation was administered at Rhinebeck in 1715. A reference in a deed to the church, dated 1721, which was located at what is now Wey's Crossing, proves its existence at that time. This was the location of Rhinebeck. Up to 1729, this church was owned and operated jointly by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations. In that year, the Lutherans sold out to the Reformed congregation and built the predecessor to the present Stone Church on Route 9 north of Rhinebeck. The old church became the German or High Dutch Reformed Church which was the place of worship in those days of many of the Dutch who founded the Low Dutch Church of Rhinbeck Flatts which stood on the site now occupied by the present Rhinebeck Reformed Church.
Thus we have the locations of Kipsbergen (presently known as Rhinecliff) along the river across from Kingston, Rhinebeck about three miles north of us, and Rhinebeck Flatts which became Rhinebeck when the village was incorporated in 1834.
The Rhinebeck Reformed Church at Wey's Crossing was so badly damaged by a tornado about 1801 that it was neccesssary to take it down. The site was then changed to Red Hook. About 1840 this church became the Red Hook Lutheran Church.
The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Rhinebeck Flatts was founded in 1731 on land given by Colonel Henry Beekman, founder of Rhinebeck. The present sanctuary was completed in 1809. The steeple was put on and the bell provided in 1822. A new bell as purchased some years later.
In the 1850's the church was remodeled very largely as it is now. The Roosevelt organ was installed in 1892. The old organ was sold for $75 to St. Peter's Lutheran Church (Old Stone Church) where it remains today.
Rhinebeck Reformed Church was founded in 1731 by the Dutch who settled Dutchess County, New York. Here, wealthy founders of the town of Rhinebeck, farmers, merchants, slaves and families worshiped together in the original building, which was constructed in 1731. In later years, soldiers of the Revolutionary War worshiped here, across the street from the former training grounds of the army of George Washington.
In the early 1800′s the original building needed to be replaced and the present structure was erected by 1808. One will note that the south and west facades are brick and the north and east are constructed from stone. When the structure of the church was being planned there were members who could not afford to donate funds to buy brick, so it was decided that those who were able would buy bricks, and those who did not have the means would bring stones gathered from their fields and farms.
Together these people used brick, stone and mortar to construct their house of worship. In using both the stone and the brick, all the members of the church were represented; an illustration of the diversity of the community during that period of time as well.
Today Rhinebeck still has a diverse population of “bricks and stones.” As in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Rhinebeck Reformed Church’s membership still comes from a variety of backgrounds, melding together like the stone, brick and mortar of the church structure.
If you would like to find out more about ways to be involved with the Rhinebeck Reformed Church, please contact us at (845) 876-3727.