HUDSON VALLEY, NY — It’s hard to imagine another National Historic Site in the US that could be legitimately be considered a “hidden treasure,” but among the warehouses, transit lots and industrial buildings in Mount Vernon, is an often overlooked place of early- American history that rivals anything found in Philadelphia or Valley Forge.
Don’t be surprised if you make a few wrong turns on the way to St. Paul’s Church Historic Site, but but once there, visitors need only follow the US flags pinned in the village green and cemetery for a walk through American history right where it happened.
The 18th-century church, located in Mount Vernon, is one of New York’s oldest parishes (1665-1980). It was used as a hospital following the Revolutionary War battle at Pell’s Point in 1776.
The church stood at the edge of Eastchester village green, the site of the “Great Election” in 1733. The cemetery contains burials from as early as 1704.
In 1942, as part of an effort to revitalize the congregation and draw attention to the site’s historical significance, the interior of the church was restored to its 18th century appearance, based on the original pew plan from 1787. A committee chaired by Sara Delano Roosevelt , mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, raised funds for the project.
The 13-point self-guided tour of the historic cemetery and village green takes about 45 minutes to complete. The tour explores the early history of both the Hudson Valley and the US and our nation with a unique look at the colonial period and the Revolutionary War.
The country’s history is slowly revealed through the 13 points of interest, which are marked by small American flags. Maps for the self-guided tour are available at the gate or online.
The 13 historic stops on the self-guided tour:
- The Village Green — remnant of the village green or town common of Eastchester.
- Rev. Thomas Standard — one of the rectors of the Church of England parish, who died in 1760. He is buried under St. Paul’s.
- Samuel Treadwell Pello — served as an officer in the Continental Army for the entire Revolutionary War.
- Elizabeth Wright — The sandstone grave marker for Elizabeth Wright displays the skull and crossbones.
- Morgan Family — Caleb Morgan’s sandstone marker is flanked by memorials for his two wives.
- Edmund Ward — sided with the Crown and was imprisoned by Patriot militia in White Plains in 1776.
- The Fowler Family Tomb — reveals family divisions about the American Revolution.
- Jeremiah Fowler — The gravestone is among the oldest legible markers at St. Paul’s.
- Thomas Pinkney — son of Philip Pinkney, one of the town founders, who drew up the 26-point Eastchester covenant in 1665.
- Will Pinkney — died in 1755, was a captain of the Eastchester militia.
- Thomas — marker is the only known reference on a Westchester County memorial to “servant,” a euphemism for slave.
- Monument to the Hessians — hired auxiliary troops from the German state of Hesse-Cassel.
- Monument to the Americans — bones of American revolutionaries ambushed by the British in 1777.
The grounds at St. Paul’s (and the church building and visitors center) are open year-round. From early January through late June, the site is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm From early July through late December, the site is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 9 pm to 5 pm