Essex County · History · New Jersey · Non-Profits · Preservation

Urgent Repairs Needed at Belleville Dutch Reformed Church

If you are a regular reader, you know how much I love my hometown of Belleville. From stopping at Rosebud’s after school, to my memories from marching band in high school, to riding my bike all over town, Belleville will always hold a special place in my heart.

What you may not know is Belleville has a wonderful history; and a big part of that history is the Belleville Dutch Reformed Church. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Reformed Dutch Church of Second River, as the first name of Belleville was Second River. The Second River is also the name of the tributary of the Passaic River that runs in front of the church. The church was founded as a Dutch Reformed church in 1697 by the first settlers of the area. During the American Revolution, the church steeple was used as an observation post. The church also served double-duty as a fort. Over 60 Revolutionary soldiers are buried in the adjacent graveyard.

Services at the church were conducted in Dutch until 1774, when the church clerk make the first entry in English in the minute book. Soon after, services were conducted in English.

Dutch Reformed Church on the Passaic River, Belleville, New Jersey
An early photo of the Dutch Reformed Church on the Passaic River. (Credit: Belleville Historical Society)

A tornado destroyed the church in 1804. A new church was built on the same foundation in 1807 and was dedicated in 1808. The 1854 the new edifice was built and the church expanded to include a Sunday school room, Bible class rooms, and a library.

The church has had a long and proud history. And now it is at risk.

Like so many other spots around New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy caused catastrophic damage to the church. The congregation has spent over $250,000 dollars on repairs. At one point, the church was closed by the town due to remaining issues that left the building unsafe. The congregation as well as the Belleville History Society have been working together to care for the building. Some individuals have even taken out personal loans to keep the project repairs going. This has been a true labor of love and devotion.

That’s where all of you come in.

A fundraiser has been created on Go Fund Me to repair the church’s steeple. The goal is $60,000. We all want to see our important locations in our great state preserved. This is an opportunity to provide support to an incredibly critical part of Belleville’s, as well as New Jersey’s, history. My husband and I will be making a donation, which is tax deductible by the way, and I hope you will consider making a donation as well.


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