Dobbs Ferry’s Zion Episcopal Church Now Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
By Barrett Seaman–
Sunday, September 18th was officially proclaimed Zion Episcopal Church Day, not only by Village of Dobbs Ferry Mayor Vincent Rossillo but also by County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky on behalf of Westchester County and by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on behalf of the entire State of New York.
The occasion was the unveiling of a plaque at the entrance to the church driveway on Cedar Street heralding the church’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The listing is for the entire church campus on the hilltop overlooking the village, but four specific structures—the church building, the Parish Hall, the Rectory and the stone wall facing Cedar Street—were singled out in the designation, which was actually awarded in 2020.
The church itself was built in 1833-34 and was once considered the “Mother of Churches” in the lower Hudson Valley, the parent of Christ Church in Tarrytown, Grace Church in Hastings-on-Hudson and the Church of St. Barnabas in Irvington. It is the oldest surviving Gothic Revival-style house of worship in the county. Its Rectory, which dates back to 1783, is believed to be the oldest surviving building in Dobbs Ferry. Among the architectural features are buttresses, quatrefoils and Gothic arches. Its exterior is made from the Greystone that is a familiar hallmark of structures up and down the Hudson River valley
Zion’s parishioners include the son and grandson of Alexander Hamilton and Washington Irving, who sat on its governing Vestry, as he also did at Tarrytown’s Christ Church. At one time, the Reverend William McVickar, who eventually founded St. Barnabas in Irvington, was its Rector, credited with designing the church’s first extension.
Zion has long embraced progressive views. It was the first Episcopal Church in the United States to legally ordain a woman priest; it’s current Priest-in-Charge is the Reverend Mary Grambsch.
Being listed on the Register of Historic Places does not necessarily protect the designee’s architectural integrity, but it does enhance its chances of obtaining grants that can fund legal defenses against efforts to buy or demolish properties.
Speakers at the unveiling event credited the church’s senior warden, Cynthia Caracta, historian Mary Sudman Donovan, architect and parishioner Niall Cain, Ann Friedman the Director of Sacred Sites, who in turn brought in Columbia University graduate student Emily Kahn, now Program Coordinator for the National Fund for Sacred Places with the National Trust. It was Ms. Kahn, a graduate of the Masters School, who crafted the all-important applications that ultimately won recognition for Zion.Read or leave a comment on this story...