The steeple of the Reformed Church of Katsbaan on Old Kings Highway was erected in 1893. Now, 125 years later, the steeple and its housing are structurally unsound. The town code enforcement officer has given the congregation until November to fix it. If they don’t, the disrepair will constitute a property maintenance code violation.
“I just got like five checks last week — we’ve raised a couple thousand [thus far],” said parishioner Lorna Silinovich. The Looby family contributed $1000 in memory of their mother, Patricia Whittaker. “We’ve had people come and give estimates,” said Silinovich. “They scared us.” Based on these estimates, the congregation’s fundraising goal is $20,000.
Should they reach this goal, the repaired steeple will be dedicated to the late Nickolas H. Steyer, who was affiliated with the church for over 40 years and spearheaded refurbishment efforts until his passing at age 82 on April 21.
Steyer was a member of both the Town of Saugerties police department, affectionately referred to as “Riley’s Raiders,” the village police department, the C.A. Lynch Fire Company, the Malden Fire Company and the Exempt Firemen’s Association. He was a member of the Masons Scottish Rite, the Empire State Towing and Recovery Association, and a founding member of the Blue Katz Men’s Club.
After owning and operating several gas stations, he opened Steyer Hudson Valley Auto on Malden Turnpike, where his daughter Stephanie and his grandson work today. An avid outdoorsman, Steyer was a county coordinator for hunter education and taught hunter safety courses in the community for over 40 years.
“If you asked half the people in this town how they got their hunting license, they’d say that my dad gave it to them,” said Stephanie Steyer-Wynne, a lifelong member of the church who has been instrumental in repair efforts.
Necessary fixes include the fortification of the steeple’s supporting structure, a paint job and a grout replacement between the church’s stonework.
The congregation has gotten the support of the Bruderhof community, which Steyer Sr. contacted in March to ask for assistance with the custom woodwork necessary to match the church’s original and historically significant design. The Bruderhof community not only offered to help, but also agreed to contribute $20,000 to the cause if that amount can be matched through other donations. If the church can raise that much, the Bruderhof has additionally pledged to contribute additional funds to complete the project.
“The effort to preserve this historical church and the Katsbaan church steeple in memory of Nickolas Steyer is symbolic of Mr. Steyer’s commitment and love of this church,” said Bruderhof representative Johann Huleatt.
Housed in the building directly under the ailing steeple are the inner workings of the three-step pipe organ, affectionately called “Goliath” by churchgoers. The organ was repaired at the cost of $10,000 in 2012 by Richard Hamar.
Also jeopardized is the church’s bell, which is rung for Sunday services.
“People look for the steeple as they’re driving down the Thruway,” said Silinovich. “They can see it from North Lake, and it looks so pretty when it’s lit up at night.”
Donors can make out checks to the Katsbaan Reformed Church and mail them to 1800 Old King’s Highway, Saugerties, NY 12477. Please note “for the steeple fund” in the memo section of the check.