Saving Newburgh's Dutch Reformed Church

Have you ever wondered what it’s like “behind the scenes” of our Seven to Save program? Each of the sites we designate has its own special concerns, needs, and work plan.


In October, Technical Services staff visited the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh to check in on an important step forward for the structure. The church, built in 1835, was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and is a National Historic Landmark. The League named the Dutch Reformed Church a Seven to Save site for 2016-17 and is working with the City of Newburgh and local preservation advocates to make a stabilization, preservation, and re-use plan for the building.

In 2012, the sanctuary ceiling collapsed, crushing the pews inside and destroying additional important interior features. Because the condition of the building rapidly declined after the ceiling collapse, a complete structural analysis of the upper trusses and roof was absolutely necessary in developing a plan to save the building. But how could we complete this inspection and analysis when the building's condition was so dangerous?


Enter Vertical Access, a nationally-recognized building consulting firm that offers services using industrial rope access techniques for these types of “tricky” analysis projects in hard-to-reach places. The Vertical Access team was able to collaborate with our colleagues at Ryan Biggs Clark Davis to examine the roof and ceiling trusses of the Dutch Reformed Church.The Vertical Access engineers examined the uppermost spaces in the church using specialized harness and rope equipment, took condition photos, and sketched AutoCAD drawings of areas of concern. The team was then able to collaborate with the engineers at Ryan Biggs Clark Davis on the ground to pinpoint areas of concern. The City of Newburgh and the League will utilize the report and recommendations of the structural analysis to craft a plan for stabilization and rehabilitation.