Our church is steeped in history from the foundation to the heavens. Please scroll down to discover more about our historic Hudson Valley past and who walked upon our steps.
HOW WE WERE BUILT
The Rhinebeck Reformed Church was founded in 1731 by the Dutch immigrants who settled Dutchess County.
The first church building was constructed on land given by Colonel Henry Beekman. Here, wealthy founders of the Town of Rhinebeck, farmers, merchants, slaves and families worshiped together in the original building. 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. Erection of the present structure was completed by 1808. In 1822, the steeple was installed and the bell provided. A new bell was purchased some years later. In the 1850's, the church was renovated and remains very largely as it is now. The historic Roosevelt organ was installed in 1893. It replaced the old organ, which was sold for $75 to St. Peter's Lutheran Church (Old Stone Church) where it remains today.
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, providing an illustration of the diversity of the community during that period of time as well.
Today Rhinebeck Reformed Church still has a diverse population of “bricks and stones.” As in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the 21st century membership still comes from a variety of backgrounds, melding together like the stone, brick and mortar of the church structure.
Henry Beekman's daughter, Margaret Beekman Livingston had 10 children. All had prominent places in local and national history. Many of them worshipped here at the Reformed Church. Below is a list of those children and their historic pew numbers if known.
Janet Livingston Montgomery - Pew 3
She married General Richard Montgomery who was killed at the Battle of Quebec during the Revolutionary War. She built Grasmere and Montgomery Place.
Chancellor Robert R. Livingston - Pew 63
He administered the oath of office to President Washington. He helped to write the Declaration of Independence. As Minister to France he negotiated the Purchase of Louisiana for $5,000,000.
Margaret Livingston Tillotson - Pew 5
Known as the "Angel of Linwood," she performed many acts of mercy. She married Dr. Thomas Tillotson, a surgeon in Washington's army and a New York State Senator in 1799.
Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston
He was equipped with his own regiment during the Revolutionary War. He went to Quebec with General Montgomery.
Catherine Livingston Garrettson
She married Reverend Freeborn Garrettson, one of the founders of the Methodist Church in America. Rev. Garrettson founded the local Methodist Church on East Market Street in Rhinebeck. Their grave sites are located in our graveyard.
John R Livingston
He became one of New York City's merchant princes.
Gertrude Livingston Lewis - Pew 18
She married General Morgan Lewis, one of the founders of St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park in 1812. He was a soldier, jurist and statesman. Gen. Lewis signed the bill incorporating the first free schools in America out of which grew the public school system.
Joanna Livingston Livingston - Pew 4
She married Colonel Peter R. Livingston, Lt. Governor of New York and Speaker of the State Assembly in 1805.
Alida Livingston Armstrong
She married General John Armstrong, a soldier and statesman.
He served as the Mayor of New York. He cast the deciding ballot in the Presidential election of 1800 in which he chose Thomas Jefferson. He served in Congress, as Secretary of State, and as Minister to France. He wrote the code of criminal and civil law of Louisiana.
Other members of the church fought in the Revolutionary War.
Many soldiers of the War rest in our church graveyard.
There are many resources through which you may learn more on this and other local stories. Below are just a few:
RHINEBECK REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH CEMETERY
CONSORTIUM OF RHINEBECK HISTORY
DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION CHAPTER
THE RHINEBECK HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Founded in 1967 through the efforts of Dewitt Gurnell,
the society seeks to preserve the history and character
of the village and town of Rhinebeck.
THE STARR LIBRARY
Read. Learn. Enjoy.
THE RHINEBECK MUSEUM
The Museum of Rhinebeck History is housed in the
historic building known as the Quitman House.
REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA