The First Reformed Protestant Church in Kingston, New York is one of the earliest known congregations in the United States and is still active to this day. More commonly known and referred to as the Old Dutch Church, it had its first congregation organized in 1659, just 50 years after Christopher Columbus sailed up the Hudson River. The building it uses today was built in 1852.


  • Steeple after restoration efforts
    Steeple after restoration efforts
  • View of church from Main Street
    View of church from Main Street
  • Inside of church
    Inside of church

The First Reformed Protestant Church in Kingston, New York is one of the earliest known congregations in the United States. More commonly known and referred to as the Old Dutch Church, it had its first congregation organized in 1659, just 50 years after Christopher Columbus sailed up the Hudson River. It is located in Kingston, New York, originally known as Esposus. Esposus was the third oldest settlement in the New Netherlands, founded by Thomas Chambers.

Downtown Kingston is often referred to, in certain parts, as the Kingston Stockade. This is because the Dutch governor in the mid 1600s, Peter Stuyvesant, wanted the settlers from Europe to be protected from Native American attacks. Stuyvesant built up a large protected area in Kingston, known as the Kingston Stockade, and the church is located there.

The current church building is not the original structure of the original congregation. While the church had its first congregation in 1659, the current structure was built in 1852. The original structure was built out of wood and helped to be finished by gifts from members of the congregation. Unfortunately, in October of 1777, British troops landed at Kingston Point and burned down the entire village of Kingston, including the original church. When general George Washington visited the rubble of Kingston, he was greeted by the then current minister of the church, Dominie Doll. George Washington was impressed by the church’s “high mark of public esteem” and wrote the church a thank you letter. George Washington, of course, later went on to be the first president of the United States.

An interim church building was located across Main Street (now St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church), but by 1851, it was realized that the congregation needed a new, larger church. The new church was built from bluestone and cost $33,631.39 between labor and materials. In today’s money, that is almost 1.1 million dollars. Surprisingly, for such a massive labor intensive and large project, the church only took a year to complete.

The designer, Minard Lafever, brought many design influences when building the church. The most predominant influences are Egyptian and Greek influences. In the time period the church was built, it followed current treads as fitting the Renaissance Revival architecture style. The rounded architecture and cathedral ceilings inside of the building also represent English influences.  

The Old Dutch Church has seen many restoration efforts in the past 40 years. In 1976, major work began on the church’s steeple, which shapes the Kingston’s skyline. The steeple was painted white, changing the Kingston’s skyline as the steeple was formally dark grey. In recent years, the church has seen continuous restoration work on the exterior to keep up with the aging building.  

Presently, the church has many different parts to it. It sits on the corner of Wall Street and Main Street. The actual church entrance, were religious ceremonies and other similar practices are held, is on Main Street. The entrance on Wall Street is to the back of the actual church. Entering on Wall Street leads you to a large room with a stage. Most events held in this room include penny socials, pasta dinners, etc., as the church also has a full sized kitchen. 

The Old Dutch Church still functions as a church, but also holds many other programs in addition to church services: music programs, 12 step groups, and craft programs, to name just a few. One of the most unique and attention grabbing points of the church is the signs that are displayed all around it. The signs read in English, Spanish, and Arabic, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” The writing is printed on a rainbow sign. Even with a congregation that dates back to 1659, the church is ever accepting over anyone from any religious, cultural, ethnic, etc., background. The Old Dutch Church is an important part of history but also demonstrates the ever changing culture of the United States.      

"Old Dutch Church." National Park Service. April 12, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/kingston/k10.htm.

Musso, Anthony P. "Kingston's Old Dutch Church steeped in history that dates to 1659." Poughkeepsie Journal. July 11, 2017. https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2017/07/11/kingston-old-dutch-church-dateline/466320001/.

Chronology. Old Dutch Church. . April 12, 2019. http://olddutchchurch.org/chronology/.