In 1716, the Reverend Petrus Vas journeyed downriver from Kingston, New York on a mission. The settlements in Poughkeepsie and Fishkill on the east side of the river, like its counterpart in Kingston on the western side, shared a common Dutch heritage and descended from the Dutch settlers who helped to establish and grow New Amsterdam. Unlike their Kingston bretheren, however, the colonists in Poughkeepsie and Fishkill did not have a Dutch Reformed church established to instruct them and give them spiritual guidance in this new land that was still very much a wilderness.
It was for this purpose that Dominie Vas traveled south and east: to establish a new church for the colonists of Dutchess County. From this mission, the shared Dutch Reformed Churches of Poughkeepsie and Fishkill were founded. Our congregation and the congregation of the Fishkill Reformed Church are the direct descendants of this first, shared church, and both rightfully lay claim to being Dutchess County's oldest church.
You can download a pamphlet of the church's history and buildings that have housed its congregations by clicking on the image below. This document has been compiled and edited by one of our ministers, Pastor Bob Geehan.
The first church of Dutchess County, painted here by Gerald Sargent Foster in his 1937 mural which decorates the Poughkeepsie Post Office, was organized by Reformed Dutch worshipers in 1716. That same year, property was given for a house of worship at what is now the corner of Main and Market Streets in downtown Poughkeepsie. The church edifice, depicted at the left of the painting, was erected in 1723. The Courthouse, depicted at the right, was built in 1717 on the same plot of donated land.