Bensonhurst

Liberty Weekend brings Revolutionary War back

June 8, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Re-enactors portrayed members of the Black Watch, colonialists and U.S. patriots during Liberty Weekend. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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Liberty Weekend was celebrated with a great flourish at the New Utrecht Reformed Church in Bensonhurst as Revolutionary War re-enactors set up camp on the grounds and fired their rifles, visitors took tours of the historic church and everyone got the chance to buy homemade cakes and cookies to help raise money to complete a renovation project of the building.

Re-enactors played George Washington, American and British soldiers and officers, and members of the infamous Black Watch, a Scottish regiment that fought on the side of the British against the Colonies.

During the Battle of Brooklyn, the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, British troops set up an encampment on what is now the front lawn of the New Utrecht Reformed Church on 18th Avenue and 84th Street.

The church was originally located on what is now 16th Avenue and 84th Street. The old New Utrecht Cemetery, where the gravestones date back to the 17th century, is still located there. Dave Elligers of Friends of Historic New Utrecht led tours of the cemetery on Saturday and Sunday.

The current church building on 18th Avenue was constructed in 1828. The New Utrecht Reformed Church is a member of the Reformed Church in America (RCA).

In addition to re-enactments, Liberty Weekend also featured displays, including maps and old photos of the church, as well as lectures on the neighborhood’s history.

The church’s congregation and the Friends group are spearheading an effort to raise funds to complete a restoration of the church building. The restoration project started several years ago but has yet to be finished.

“It’s our dream to complete the restoration of the church,” Susan Hanyen, a longtime member of the church, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The church has been closed during the renovation project. Sunday services are held in the Parish House, a 19th-century building located on church grounds.

But the church was open for Liberty Weekend and visitors took tours of the building, where the walls and stained glass windows revealed historical tidbits. On the wall next to the altar is a plaque paying tribute to Robert Ormiston Currie, who served as the pastor for 31 years in the 18th Century. He died in 1866.

 


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