Zion Episcopal Church
Andrew Jackson was President of the United States and the first successful run of the “Tom Thumb” steam locomotive had taken place only three years before, when a group of Episcopalians met in October, 1833, in the schoolhouse adjoining the property of Andrew Storms to organize a parish church in Dobbs Ferry. Oscar Irving, a nephew of Washington Irving, was instrumental in organizing the new church and his signature appears on the original minutes.
Another prominent American family that played and important role in the early years, were the sons of Alexander Hamilton, James and Alexander Jr, The Hamilton brothers both served on the vestry from 1843-1853 and were generous in their support of the parish.
Zion’s location was largely determined by Van Brugh Livingston’s offer of the site it occupies today. The church was incorporated on October 31, 1833 . The Rev. A.N. Crosby, Rector of St John’s, Getty Square, became the first Rector; The small church building on the hill overlooking the Hudson was dedicated on 20 May 1834 (what is presently the back of the church). It was designed in the Gothic Revival sytle using granite quarried in Ossining.
The original church contained but 18 pews, and the salary of the Rector was a magnificent $200 per year. In 1836, the Rev. William Creighton, a close friend of Washington Irving, was named Rector. From this date until 1843, the author and diplomat served as a Vestryman of Zion Church, and was a frequent representative at Diocesan Conventions.
The original building was then expanded to its current size by additions in 1853 and 1870. In the enlargement of 1853 included was the installation of a beautiful stained glass window depicting Jesus blessing the children. It is believed to be one the earliest examples of stained glass in Westchester County.
The other buildings on the grounds surrounding the church are a parish hall built in 1885 and the rectory which is said to be one of the earliest homes in Dobbs Ferry and once belonged to a Hudson River boat captain, who is said to still haunt the building. It was originally a two-story colonial . It is approximately 205 years old. In the late 1870’s it was “modernized” and the third story (with mansard roof) was added.
After World War I a bell commemorating those who served in the armed forces from Dobbs Ferry was placed in the church tower. It is still tolled each Memorial Day. Zion was also the site of one of the first ordinations of woman to the priesthood in 1977 and has continued to be a witness to justice and peace.
Zion is surrounded by two acres of beautiful grounds and gardens,including a garden given in memory of one of its members, MIchael Lepore, killed in the attack of September 11, 2001.
In its rich history Zion is a link to the faith and community of our past and yet remains a sign of God's presence and hope to all who admire its beauty and grace.