Church fire

October 1937: The church burned

The First Reformed Dutch Church was organized by the area’s Dutch settlers in 1736; the church we know today was constructed in 1771. “George Washington was said to have been a frequent worshipper in the church while he stayed in Pompton during the Revolution,” according to a newspaper article.

The First Reformed Church as it appeared circa 1908. The steeple is obscured by the trees, but the stained glass windows are visible. Note the pole at right.

The beautiful First Reformed Church, with its Christopher Wren-style steeple, caught fire on the morning of October 24, 1937. Seven fire companies responded with 70 men, but there was no saving the edifice; only the walls were left standing. (Look on YouTube for home movies of the tragedy.)

The congregation, and the township, wasted no time toward raising funds to have the church rebuilt. The church was rebuilt by October 1938 — just one year after the fire — and reopened in April 1939, but that’s another post.

“Once again the beautiful Christopher Wren steeple rises into the sky, a landmark which can be viewed from miles around,” according to the article.

Carl Edwards was on the scene of the fire with his home movie camera. See his video here. And he filmed the church’s reconstruction as well, as you can see here.

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