The 10th annual open houses at Old Saint Peter’s Church and the Van Cortlandtville Historical Society’s Little Red Schoolhouse in Cortlandt Manor on Sunday, July 3, from 2 to 4 p.m. will shed light on the area’s participation in the American Revolution and honor the soldiers who fought. The events are open free to the public.
The combined open houses, which commence at The Little Red Schoolhouse, located on Locust Avenue just south of Oregon Road at 2 p.m., will include a memorial service at 3 p.m. in the adjacent Old Saint Peter’s Church for the eight French soldiers who died in Van Cortlandtville during the Revolutionary War. The memorial service will honor the soldiers who were part of the French forces commanded by General Rochambeau who were in the Cortlandt-Peekskill area in 1781 and again in 1782 while en route to and from Yorktown, Virginia, where they helped compel the surrender of British forces under General Charles Cornwallis.
Old Saint Peter’s Church was used as a military hospital during that time. According to research from the Van Cortlandtville Historical Society, seven of the soldiers were buried in unmarked graves between the church and the schoolhouse, while the body of the eighth, an officer believed to be related to the royal family, was returned to France for burial. A large memorial stone in front of the church and a nearby line of seven commemorative crosses were dedicated on July 3, 1999. The society has conducted an annual memorial service at
Old Saint Peter’s since 2001, enhancing the site with the fleur-de-lis flags of France.
Parking is available at the schoolhouse, or in the cemetery grounds off Locust Avenue. The telephone number on the day of the event is: 914-736-7868. The society’s website: www.vancort.net.