St. Paul’s parish in Mount Vernon, New York dates back to 1665, with the first church constructed in 1700. It was deconsecrated so the federal government could take ownership in 1980. This was the site of an important election in 1733 when Quakers were prohibited from voting, which led to a change in the law the next year. That election was covered in a newspaper opposed to Royal Governor William Cosby that subsequently went to court for libel, in a trial that helped established the freedom of the press in America.
Church tour, 1833 pipe organ, film, cemetery
Start your visit at the former carriage shed-parish hall where there is a small museum and a short film about the church’s historical significance. A volunteer will then give you a guided tour of the church that was built between 1763-87, interrupted by the American Revolution. In 1942, the pews were restored to their original configuration based on a historical document. If you are lucky, your guide will play the 1833 pipe organ and let you ring the bronze bell that was cast in 1758 at the same foundry in London that made the Liberty Bell. We met fellow National Park blogger Theresa here on a Saturday morning in September 2019. She posted about the visit on her excellent blog National Parks with T.
None, but you can walk next door to Dunkin Donuts if you arrive before the site opens.
St. Paul’s cemetery covers five acres and contains about 9,000 graves, dating back to 1704. Your guide will spend a bit of time covering some famous ones, but be sure to seek out the common grave for Hessian soldiers that used the church as a hospital following the October 1776 Battle of Pell’s Point (fought a mile from here).
There is a small parking lot on site, which is far enough outside Manhattan that driving is feasible. We took the subway and had a short walk through an industrial neighborhood.
Saratoga National Historical Park (New York)
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Morristown National Historical Park (New Jersey)
Explore More – Who was the New York City publisher who in 1733 printed the inaugural issue of the New York Weekly Journal that later went to trial for libel?