'She's in dire straits.' Newburgh historians concerned 187-year-old church will not last much longer

The president of the Newburgh Preservation Association is concerned serious water damage to Newburgh's Dutch Reformed Church is going to bring it down before the city can save it.

News 12 Staff

Mar 31, 2023, 10:55 PM

Updated 451 days ago

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Historic preservation experts in Newburgh are concerned that an iconic 187-year-old building will not survive another year.
The president of the Newburgh Preservation Association, Thomas Dodd, is concerned serious water damage to Newburgh's Dutch Reformed Church is going to bring it down before the city can save it.
It was built in 1835 and last used in 1967.
"She's in dire straits," Dodd says and adds that he received a call a few weeks ago from a local architect who was driving by and said somebody needs to check out the west wall of the building because it looked like it was about to go.
"The water penetration is causing the stone to break, and we're seeing the beginning, beginning-middle stages of wall failure," Todd explains.
Ever since the city bought the Dutch Reformed Church in 1974, a long line of mayors, council representatives and historians have made ambitious plans to restore the church into a museum or event center.
None of those plans ever worked out.
Orange County historian Johanna Porr showed News 12 fundraiser flyers and newspaper articles about the numerous failed attempts to renovate the building. She is worried the city could miss a big tourism opportunity.
"All of these museums are anchor institutions that can bring economic development back. I want to see hotels. I want to see shops and restaurants open up," Porr says.
A city spokesperson told News 12 via email that the city's experts have not indicated any serious concerns regarding stability of the west wall.
Before any renovations can happen, a contractor has to do asbestos removal.
The city spokesperson says the city's latest application for a state grant to help pay for that was denied and the city is seeking other funding sources.
Dodd suggests the possibility of the city selling it to a developer or nonprofit.
He and Porr say they can help a new owner find grants and other funding to cover much of the project that could end up costing in all $20 million.


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