In Old New York

Church and Sunday in Old New York,
page 4 of 16

On the roof were placed three small cannon commanding the three roads which led to it. This edifice was called “a handsome preaching-house,” and its congregation boasted that it was almost as large as the fine new one in New Amsterdam. Its corner-stone was laid with much ceremony. In its belfry hung a bell presented to the little congregation by the Directors of the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company. The predickstoel was the gift of the same board of West India Directors, since the twenty-five beavers’ skins sent for its purchase proved greatly damaged, and hence inadequate as payment.

This pulpit still exists, — a pedestal with a flight of narrow steps and curved balustrade. It is about four feet in height to its floor, and only three in diameter. It is octagonal; one of the sides is hinged, and forms the entrance door or gate. All the small trimmings and mouldings are of oak, and it has a small bracket or frame to hold the hour-glass. It stood in a space at the end of the centre aisle.

                    “I see the pulpit high — an octagon,
                    Its pedestal, doophuysje, winding stair,
                    And room within for one, and one alone,
                    A canopy above, suspended there.”

From the ceiling hung a chandelier, and candle-sconces projected from the walls. There were originally two low-set galleries; a third was added in 1682. The men sat in the galleries, and as they carried their arms to meeting, were thus conveniently placed to fire through the loop-holes if necessity arose. The bell-rope from the belfry hung down in the middle of the church, and when not in use was twisted round a post set for the purpose.

This church was plain enough, but it was certainly kept in true Dutch cleanliness, for house-cleaners frequently invaded it with pails and scrubbing-brushes, brooms, lime, and sand. Even the chandelier was scoured, and a ragebol, or cobweb-brush, was purchased by the deacon for the use of the scrubbers. The floor was sanded with fine beach-sand, as were the floors of dwelling-houses. I find in the records of the Long Island churches frequent entries of payments for church brooms and church sand, — in Jamaica as late a date as 1836. In 1841 the deacons bought a carpet.


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