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First Reformed opens renovated space

First Reformed opens renovated space

Dedication ceremony Saturday
First Reformed opens renovated space
Yoga instructor Carolyn Zimmer leads a group in the newly renovated Covenant Hall at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- The First Reformed Church of Schenectady, a presence in the historic Stockade Neighborhood for nearly 340 years, is sporting a new look.

While the facade and much of the exterior has not changed drastically, the building's interior has had some extensive renovation work done. Church officials will hold a dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. Saturday to mark the completion of most of that work, in a new space they are calling Covenant Hall.

"This beautiful and functional place is a wonderful statement of who this church is and where it is going," said Senior Pastor Bill Levering. "It's been four years in the making, and we've tried to address issues such as accessibility, functionality and sustainability."

Covenant Hall is on the east side of the building, where the church's library, Poling House and Assembly Hall were located.

"It's a completely new configuration of spaces," said Levering. "Covenant Hall is a multi-purpose space where we'll be able to have all kinds of events for all sorts of groups, including wedding receptions. There's a stage area and a screen that drops down, and I've already talked to some musicians who say the acoustics in the place are great."

Poling House, a room for small presentations and musical performances, remains intact but is now part of Covenant Hall, while the new library is in an area formerly called Assembly Hall.

The Albany firm of Mesick, Cohen, Wilson and Baker was the project architect, while the contractor was the Rosch Brothers of Latham.

The total cost of the project was $4 million, which included renovation work on the former Mohawk Bank building adjacent to the church and owned by First Reformed.

The church also adopted a Care of Creation Covenant in 2016, making a substantial commitment to reducing its carbon footprint with significant improvements in energy efficiency and programs to encourage sustainable practices by the congregation.

"Every working committee of the church is finding ways to conserve energy and embrace the covenant of environmental stewardship," said Associate Minister Daniel Carlson in a press release. "Not only will the building renovations improve our energy efficiency, but we have also included a modest green roof as a symbol and reminder to the congregation and community of the many ways that each of us can and should safeguard God's creation, the Earth."

The congregation, which now meets at the northeast corner of North Church and Union streets, was formed sometime around 1680, nearly two decades after Arendt Van Curler left Albany and founded Schenectady. The current church, constructed in 1863, was rebuilt after a fire in February 1948. It's the fifth building in the history of the church. It's exterior -- designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter -- remains much like it was when it was constructed.






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