by Robert Kimmel
With the fundraising effort for improving accessibility to the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow having reached over $250,00, well on its way toward its $350,000 goal, ground breaking for the construction project will be held Wednesday, March 15. The church, built 332 years ago, saw subsequent changes over the years in the road level at its frontage, which required construction of a stairway now described as being treacherous.
The project is to make the church “accessible to all, the elderly, to the smallest child, to the physically handicapped, whether members of the congregation, neighbors or visitors from near or far,” reads a fund-raising pamphlet. The old steps will be replaced by a ramp that is described as creating “Level pathways from the front of the church through the Old North Gate and back to the church.” The size of the small entrance platform at the front of the building will be enlarged to double its present size to allow a “gathering place as people exit the church.”
The groundbreaking was originally scheduled for after Easter, but with the mild winter, it was moved earlier, and if the more placid weather holds up, the access construction is expected to be completed before the end of June. Church authorities would like to have the construction completed in time to have the Old Dutch Church available for its summer worship services, weddings, and visitors.
The fundraising effort got a major boost with a bequest of $157,000 from the estate of Julia, Paul and John Vydarey, life-long members of the Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns, which owns the Old Dutch Church. The Old Dutch Church Fest last fall raised $25,000, and $69,000 was pledged from a direct mail campaign, including $20,000 in matching funds from church member Jane Greenwood’s firm, Kostow, Greenwood Architects.
Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/odcaccessibilityproject or by checks made payable to “Friends of the Old Dutch Church,” (P.O. Box 382, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591).