Saturday, February 21, 2015

Photo of the Day: Old Paramus Reformed Church, Ridgewood

For some time, driving on Rt. 17 not far from my home in Bergen County, NJ, I was curious about the steeple I saw from across the highway. On the Sunday after New Year’s Day, I exited off the highway to satisfy my curiosity.

The origins of Old Paramus Reformed Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, date back to 1725, when the congregation was established by Dutch colonial settlers. During the American Revolution particularly, the site witnessed a great deal of history, since it served as a military post for four years.  

Among the Revolutionary War figures who were here during those years were Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, Anthony Wayne, Richard Henry Lee, and Aaron Burr. After General Charles Lee flagrantly disregarded orders from George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth, a session of the subsequent court martial was held in the original church on this site.

The present church building in Ridgewood was constructed in 1800. I was unaware on the afternoon when I stopped by the parking lot that over the prior six weeks, in two separate incidents, more than 40 rounds of ammunition were fired into the church, which sustained damage to its stained-glass windows.

Fortunately, nobody was inside the church at the time of the shootings, and a month ago two cousins—one of them a U.S. Marine Corps corporal—were arrested. Police believe the men were using the church for target practice because of its convenience and isolation from other buildings in the area, according to an article from that time which appeared in The Bergen Record.

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