After getting somewhat settled -- unpacking all the boxes -- I decided to explore my new neighborhood. I walked around to Flatbush Avenue, the only street I had ever associated with Brookyn. It was the first behind the house (across the subway ditch) and down a block.
I walked down Flatbush Avenue the length of two subway stops (about 3/4 of a mile from
the house to Church Avenue where I saw a banner advertising the anniversary of the Dutch Reform Church which was established in 1654. I learned that this church was built by order of Peter Stuyvesant, first Director General of "New Amsterdam." He even gave the dimensions for the church -- 60 feet by 28 feet. It was originally built of wood and rebuilt a few years later out of stone.
The Dutch Reform Church on Flatbush Ave. is not the oldest church ever built in Brooklyn. That honor goes to another Dutch Reform Church that has since been razed. The building that houses Macy's in downtown Brooklyn was built over that church site and cemetery.
|Original Dutch Reform Church in Flatbush Village|
There was a graveyard in back of the Dutch Reform Church on Flatbush Ave. It was surrounded by a chain-link fence, but since it was Sunday, the gate was unlocked and I went inside and wandered around. The gravestones were very weathered from age, general pollution, and acid rain.
The oldest grave that I could find belonged to Adam Peterse Brouwen who died in 1693. Doing some research later, I found out that Brouwen had originally worked for the Dutch West India Company, as did many of the first immigrants to Brooklyn, and he built the first flour mill in North America called the "Old Gowanus Mill."
|Gravestone in Dutch Reform Church Cemetery|
Another grave in the cemetery belonged to Hendrick Lefferts who gave his name to Lefferts Gardens, the section of Brooklyn I had traveled through to get to the church. The old Lefferts house is still standing in Prospect Park and is an example of an old Dutch farmhouse. [They host tours and events there.]
I never attended a service at the Dutch Reform Church, although I did attend services at the the Society of Friends (Quaker Church) in downtown Brooklyn. Their building was much more modern -- built in 1851.
Brooklyn is called the borough of churches because it has more churches than any other borough of New York City. The "F" train (the one used in the opening of "Welcome Back Kotter") has the highest tressle of any of the subway trains and gives a great view of Brooklyn. Looking out the train window you can see dozens of church spires.
Post by Alana Cash