The Church of Sea and Land
While looking into the history of Eldridge Street, I came across a fantastic e-book digitized by Project Guttenberg about a historic church in the neighborhood, located on the corner of Henry and Market Streets.
The Kirk on Rutgers Farm, written by Frederick Brückbauer in 1919, celebrates a century of worship in what began as the Dutch Reformed Church, was then the Church of the Land and Sea, and is now the First Chinese Presbyterian Church. The land was deeded by Henry Rutgersin 1816, and the building on the lot has been standing since 1819.
Learn more about the history of the building.
The introduction by George Alexander describes the history of the church, and the incredible spirit of the worshippers who retained their prayer space even as the walls crumbled around them:
Of the sanctuary, which, for one hundred years, has stood on the corner of Market and Henry Streets, the author, like many others who have put their lives into it, might well say: ‘Thy saints take pleasure in her stones, Her very dust to them is dear.’ The story of ‘The Kirk on Rutgers Farm’ is one of pathetic interest. In its first half-century it sheltered a worshipping congregation of staid Knickerbocker type, which, tho blest with a ministry of extraordinary ability and spiritual power, succumbed to its unfriendly environment and perished.
The last line of the paragraph stuck with me, as it so reminds me of our synagogue building and its dramatic rescue. “Those of us who in our unwisdom said a generation ago that it ought to die judged after the outward appearance. Those who protested that it must not die, took counsel with the spirit that animated them, saw the invisible and against hope believed in hope.”