The history of South begins in the 1820s with a small group of congregants gathering for worship in a barn in Dobbs Ferry. From there, they erected the first house of worship in the village, known as The Little White Church, on the corner of Ashford Ave. and Storm Street.
In 1864, plans were made for a new building closer to town, and construction began on the beautiful church building we occupy today. The cornerstone was laid on June 8, 1868 and the dedication was held on the last Sunday of 1869. The manse was begun in 1869 and is still in the service of the minister. An additional structure (Wilde House) was built on the property in the 1870s that served for a time as a school and now houses Days of Wonder Childcare Center.
In 1916, electric lights replaced the gas lamps, and new stained glass memorials were put in place. Our beloved church organ was installed in 1928.
Originally built in 1898 and formerly installed in Central Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, it is the organ, which today contributes to the vitality of our worship services here at South Church. The church bell we ring is dated 1876, made by a major bell foundry in this country, Meneely & Kimberly of Troy, New York.
From the very beginning when a small group of people decided to begin this church, they never sidestepped controversy, hard work or social justice. From Van Brugh Livingston’s stance on no liquor (though medicinal use was accepted), to money to help Civil War reconstruction in the South and for “freedmen”, up to the present on the streets of New York with the homeless poor, to Nicaragua and Malawi, to our commitment to sexual justice, our historical roots continue to guide us.
A more in-depth history of South Presbyterian Church, written by Jaque Jeannette, is available here (Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reader required).