Marker #141, "Old Mud Meeting House"

Historical Marker #141 in Mercer County commemorates the first Dutch Reformed Church west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The Old Mud Meeting House, also known as the Dutch Reformed Church, was established in 1781. The first congregation came to Kentucky via the New Jersey Dutch Reformed Church when they fled New Jersey following a Native American attack on their village. A group of about fifty Dutch Reformed Church members resettled in Mercer County, bringing their religion to the Kentucky frontier. Henry Comingore, a Revolutionary War veteran and member of the church, was appointed by the new congregation to solicit money for the construction of a meeting house. Comingore traveled to New Jersey to seek funds while land for the church building was purchased from David Adams. Construction for a meeting house began shortly after Comingore’s return to Kentucky in 1800.

Dominie Thomas Kyle served as the church’s first pastor from 1802 to 1816. The congregation engaged a nearby Presbyterian minister, Reverend Thomas Cleland, to give services once a month. Presbyterian Reverend Laban Jones was found as a replacement after Reverend Cleland, and the few members of the Dutch Reformed Church of Old Mud merged with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. After Reverend Jones, there were no more organized church meetings at the Old Mud Meeting House until the 1960s, when it was again used by the Harrodsburg Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The congregation of Old Mud merged with the Presbyterian church gradually as the Dutch Reformed Church began to move out of Mercer County and a large portion of the Old Mud membership relocated to Henry County.

The method of construction is what lends the building its name. The Old Mud Meeting House was constructed using wattle and daub, a combination of mud, clay, and straw packed between a wooden frame to form a wall. The building serves as a rare example of nineteenth-century Dutch building techniques, one of the earliest forms of architecture for European houses of worship in the United States. By 1831, the building was updated when a group of individuals purchased a stove for heating the church. In 1849, repairs were made with weatherboarding added to cover the original wattle and daub walls. Other repairs included adding shutters, a pulpit, three new doors, and a single window. Inside, plaster was added overhead after the ceiling was lowered.

When the remodel was complete, a Presbyterian congregation from Harrodsburg used the building for services. The graveyard, which housed the grave of the first minister along with the ashes and grave sites of Revolutionary War soldiers, was enlarged by half an acre in 1857. The building received attention once more in 1900 when a centennial celebration was held at the Old Mud Meeting House. On August 27, 1928, the Reformed Church in America (renamed in 1867 from Dutch Reformed Church) deeded the property and building to the Harrodsburg Historical Society.

In 1933, an effort was made by the Works Progress Administration, an organization under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, to repair the church once again. The graveyard was cleaned, and dislodged or sunken stones were reset. The building was then used by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church until 1970 and was later placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. After 1973, the Harrodsburg Historical Society began an extensive preservation study of the building. During their investigation, many of the original construction features were uncovered, such as the wattle and daub walls, original window and door placements, and the height of the original ceiling. Renovations began to restore the building to its original 1800 appearance. The building then sat vacant until 2000 when the Harrodsburg Historical Society began renovations to the building once again, this time adding siding, new windows, and floors.

The Dutch Reformed Church began with the Reformation of the 1500s under John Calvin, a French theologian and pastor, who established one wing of the Protestant church. When Presbyterianism spread to the Netherlands, it became the Dutch Reformed Church. By the 1600s, the Dutch Reformed Church came to North America via European immigrants and spread across the colonies. The American church sent ministers to Holland to be ordained, and church services were performed in Dutch until 1764, although some American churches held on to the traditional services in Dutch in the years that followed. When the Revolutionary War ended, the American church cut its ties with the European church, and congregations began to split over theological disagreements in the United States. Today the Reformed Church in America is an active and growing community with churches across the United States.

The marker reads:


First Dutch Reformed Chuch west of the Allegheny Mountains, established by fifty heads of families who came to Mercer County from Pennsylvania in 1781. Organized in 1796, the church was built on land purchased in 1800. In the church cemetery is the grave of Dominie Thomas Kyle, first pastor.



Old Mud Meeting House 730 Dry Branch Road Harrodsburg, KY 40330