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Peekskill
Presbyterian
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705 South Street
Peekskill,  NY  10566
914-737-3322
office@peekskillpresby.org


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Peekskill Presbyterian Church

History

The Congregation

Our Presbyterian Congregation in Peekskill dates back to 1721 when Reverend William Tenant, an itinerant Preacher, began bringing the Word to the Hudson Valley. Then, beginning in 1742, the church started to meet regularly, relying on the Presbytery of New Brunswick, NJ which sent a minister to preach in Peekskill and other nearby towns with “much success.” From 1785 to 1799 the congregation functioned as a satellite ministry of the First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown, and finally, in 1799 the group of trustees that previously administered the Yorktown ministry evolved to formally organize The First Presbyterian Church of Peekskill. On June 25th, 1826 the Church was incorporated, and the first called Minister was The Rev. John H. Leggett.

In 1826 there were just 24 members. Church membership in 1843 was 34, although the average attendance was over 100. In 1901, on the church's 75th anniversary total membership was 698, a remarkable growth from 1826.

No history of the early church would be complete without mention of the Sunday Schools and Women Societies. A Sunday School history, written in 1901, related that two sessions were held each Sunday. Following each class period, the children, led by their teachers, attended the church services at 10:30 A.M. and at 3:00 P.M. The registration was close to 200 officers, teachers, and students.

For about 80 years, the story of Presbyterianism in Peekskill was the story of two churches instead of one. In 1841 the Second Presbyterian Church was formed. Services were held in the old Methodist church on South Street. A new Sanctuary was constructed in 1845. This building was later sold and became The Field Library, and is now privately owned. There had been talk of a reunion between the First and Second churches in 1866 but that did not happen until 1920 when the two churches united. The Rev. Thomas C. Straus was appointed to be the moderator of the combined Session. Rev. Straus served in the pulpit until 1921. He was the minister of the Second Church from 1896 - 1917.

The Church Building

The first sanctuary on the site of the present Peekskill Presbyterian Church was built in 1799. The original 1799 building served until 1846 when the current Church was constructed. The church was designed and built in a traditional New England style with white exterior and tall steeple. The church bell was retained from the original sanctuary according to a 1926 church history by The Rev. Thomas C. Straus that stated that "the bell that hung in the 1799 Church is in use in the present house of worship."

In other words, the bell we hear on Sunday mornings is the original bell and it's over 200 years old! There is little doubt it tolled for the funerals of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other distinguished Americans!

Over the years various alterations have been made to the church building, while maintaining the historic character of the church. An extension of 30 feet was added in 1858. Extensive alterations were made in 1892 when the organ was placed in the back of the pulpit. The next major renovation took place in 1922. The Christian Education Building, designed for the Church School and church-connected activities, was built and dedicated in 1964. Most recently, emphasis has been on upgrading the existing structure through capital improvements and modernizing building systems, while insuring that the historic character of the church remains to be enjoyed for years to come.