St. George
Staten Island,
New York

Brighton Heights Reformed Church Demolished

Brighton Heights Reformed Church

Staten Island's historic Brighton Heights Reformed Church (a designated New York City landmark) was demolished on June 29, 1996, after a fire the previous day. The fire was started by a worker removing paint with a heat gun.

After The Fire

The Brighton Heights Reformed Church, 320 St. Mark's Place, at Fort Place on Staten Island was designed by architect John Correja and built in 1863. When the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in Tompkinsville outgrew its original building, it acquired this property in nearby Brighton Heights and commissioned the Manhattan architect John Correja to design a stone structure. The cost of building the Gothic Revival design proved high, and Correja eventually adapted the form to allow-for the construction of a less expensive wooden building. With its prominent spire, the church was highly visible along the northeast shore of Staten Island. It was designated a City Landmark in 1967.

from the Centenary publication of the Church, 1964

The first Sanctuary of the Brighton Heights Reformed congregation was the hall of a hospital. The year was early 1817. The person most responsible was the Vice President of the United States.

The hospital was called Fever Hospital. It was located at about the present site of Boro Hall. It was a part of Quarantine - a walled in thirty-acre plot on which immigrants debarked for ptysical examinations.

The hospital did not want for patients. The immigrants had been crammed in unventilated and unsanitary holds, without fresh food or water for periods up to eight weeks. Many of them were afflicted with what was called "ship's fever" and were consequently detained.

The Vice President of the United States was Daniel D. Tompkins. He had moved to Staten Island in 1812, at which time he was Governor of New York State. He became a very active member of the Staten Island Reformed Church. His home was built on what is now the corner of Fort Place and Sherman Avenue. Quarantine, standing out stark and gaunt against the otherwise green landscape, stood between his home and his view of the bay.

He became deeply concerned. He secured permission from the U. S. Health Service to conduct Religious Services in the hall of the hospital. He induced his pastor, the Rev. Peter VanPelt to officiate.

This arrangement proved inadequate. Vice President Tompkins gave a plot of ground and $500; the U. S. Public Health Service and the Collegiate Church of New York City gave financial assistance; a cornerstone for a new church was laid on October 18, 1818. The location was what is now the area between Bay Street and VanDuzer Street fronting on Victory Blvd. After the dedication on October 23, 1820 and the incorporation as a Reformed Church in 1823, the seventeen charter members with their first Pastor, the Rev. John Miller began to sacrifice and serve.

The cornerstone of this present Sanctuary was laid on October 27, 1863 and the completed structure was dedicated on November 3, 1864 - one hundred years ago.

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rev. 11/04/96
by David Goldfarb