Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow  "Historic Site" | Sleepy Hollow Westchester County New York
Early evening over the Bear Mountain Bridge

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Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow "Historic Site"

Sleepy Hollow

Westchester County

Old Dutch Burying Ground Church Washington Irving Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow "Historic Site"

Click to enlarge photo of the Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow.

Click to enlarge photo of Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow
The Old Dutch Church
"It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson." Washington Irving in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

Built in 1685, this is the oldest church standing in New York State. Made of stone and hand-hewn lumber, the church is built in a style typical of the northern Netherlands. Surrounding the Old Dutch Church is Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, immortalized in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".

"Philipse built his church on a grassy knoll about 200 yards from his manor house and gristmill, on a site long used as a burial ground. Constructed of fieldstone, local timber and flat, yellow bricks from Holland, the church is simple in architecture: octagonal at one end, with a Dutch gambrel roof and a belfry. The white-washed walls were fortress-like more than two feet thick. Small, rectangular windows were placed high in the walls.

"When the congregation was officially organized in 1697, its first pastoral call went out to Dominie Guiliam Bertholf, a well-known Dutch Reformed minister. He consented to come over three or four times a year from his home in Hackensack to preach and administer the sacraments. The rest of the year, services were led by lay clergy."Sourced: Friends of the Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery surrounds the Old Dutch Burying Ground and Old Dutch Church, but neither is affiliated with the cemetery. Washington Irving himself is laid to rest at the south end of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery overlooking the grounds of the Old Dutch Church.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is 85 acres in size, has over 40,000 in-ground interments, and a new community mausoleum. With the opening of the “Riverview Natural Burial Grounds”, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery has become one of a very small number of burial places in the country that provide a green burial option.

As the villages of Tarrytown and North Tarrytown were growing and additional burial space was needed, Washington Irving and Captain Jacob Storm originated the idea for the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, officially opened in 1849.

John André in the American Revolution
John André (1750-1780) was the aide de camp of Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander-in-chief. André purchased a commission as second lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1771. In 1774 he joined a regiment in Quebec, where he pursued his first love of poetry and painting. In September and October 1775, American troops laid siege to his fort at St. Johns. He was captured, brought back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and treated roughly. His days as a prisoner turned him against the American rebels. The Americans finally exchanged him in 1776, and he met up with British troops in New York City. Sir William Howe was especially interested in the information André had learned behind the American lines. André then purchased a position as captain and become General Charles Grey's aide. He became known for behaving ruthlessly and aggressively on the battlefield. In 1778 André joined the staff of Henry Clinton, General Howe's replacement. Clinton made him head of intelligence in April 1779. André successfully kept track of intelligence from American disserters and British prisoners who had escaped or were exchanged

André's most famous success was the treachery of Benedict Arnold. As a result, Clinton promoted André rapidly, from deputy to adjutant general in October 1779. Yet Benedict Arnold was also André's downfall. Three American militiamen captured André, who was dressed in civilian clothes with a treasonous letter between Clinton and Arnold in his boot. André was tried with a court martial. Found guilty, he begged George Washington to shoot him as a gentlemen instead of hanging him as a spy. Nevertheless, he was hanged as a spy in Tappan, New York on October 2, 1780.

The spot where Andre was Captured as described in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow

    "About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley's Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grape-vines, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate Andre was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the school-boy who has to pass it alone after dark.

    "As he approached the stream, his heart began to thump he summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement, and ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the contrary foot: it was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of brambles and alder-bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller."

Click blue button for more information about the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Historic Sites in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown
  • Visit Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate in Sleepy Hollow.
  • Visit Lyndhurst in Tarrytown.
  • Visit Patriots Park in Tarrytown.
  • Visit the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse. Learn how a family lived and protected ships on the Hudson River.
  • Visit Historic Sunnyside Washington Irving's home at Sunnyside

  • Children's Attractions in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown
  • Enjoy Family Fun Day at Lyndhurst Historic Site in Tarrytown.
  • Learn about a spy in the American Revolution - John André.
  • Visit Patriots Park in Tarrytown.
  • Visit Historic Philipsburg Manor Historic Site for kids.
  • Visit Historic Sunnyside, Washington Irving's home in Tarrytown, offering games and activities for kids.
  • Visit Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse. Learn how a family lived and protected ships on the Hudson River.
  • Celebrate Halloween in Sleepy Hollow.
  • Celebrate The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  • Spooky fun things to do on Halloween include a Tour the Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground

    • Visit the Old Dutch Church & Burying Ground and find places mentioned in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow where "The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak."
      "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving

    Location: Sleepy Hollow

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