Union Church of Pocantico Hills

For many years Pocantico Hills had no formal house of worship. Church services were held in the Lyceum by pastors from Tarrytown or by students from the Union Theological Seminary. Sunday School classes were taught in the schoolhouse on Wheeler's Hill.

In 1900 the Pocantico Hills Society for Christian Work was organized. The Society was to include people of all denominations and creeds. In 1915 the Society was reorganized into the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, so that members could receive church standing. The Church Constitution called for it to be nondenominational, and to recognize a duty for Christian fellowship and cooperation with all Christian churches.

The Union Church continued to hold services in the Lyceum, although the accommodations were small. In 1918 a survey of church members showed considerable interest in constructing a new building. In 1920 Mr. Rockefeller Sr. and Mr. Rockefeller Jr., along with Mr. and Mrs. Collier, offered to share the cost of a new building. Mr. Rockefeller, Sr. donated a most advantageous site on Bedford Road. The dedication service for the Union Church was held in September, 1922.

The Union Church is very simple in its design and furnishings. The absence of religious symbols that early American Protestants objected to is apparent. Over the years, additions have been in keeping with the original design of the Church. The chimes in the tower constantly remind community members of its presence. Lovely stained glass windows are enjoyed by parishioners. There is a rose window, designed by Herni Matisse in 1956, in honor of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

Visitors to the Union Church also enjoy nine stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. Each window depicts a theme from the Bible. After exert craftsmen cut glass at the atelier, Chagall would actually paint on the glass in an attempt to recreate his original drawings. He added such details as facial features, a bouquet of flowers, animals, and birds to complete scenes in the windows, which were dedicated between 1964 and 1966. Three of these masterpieces honor the memory of John D. Rockefeller Jr., Michael Rockefeller, and Nelson Rockefeller.

As the years passed, the Church became a center of activity. In 1929 the congregation voted to raise twenty-five thousand dollars for the construction of a Parish House. The Rockefeller family, along with other parishioners, was once again generous. The Parish House contained several classrooms, a hall with a stage for entertainment and plays, and a well-equipped kitchen.

The Sunday School continued to grow. A children's wing was added in 1956. This wing has two floors, each with five classrooms, a library, and kitchen.

Aileen Brown

Church Constructed by:
Umair Ahamadi
Regina Bergin
Alicia Burke
Annette Courniotes
Tony Guzzo

  Back to the Past