MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – St. Paul’s Church, Westchester County’s only National Historical Site, remains closed as part of the nation’s government shutdown.
When the federal government shut down on Tuesday, Oct. 1, all national parks and national historic sites had their gates shuttered to the public. Other notable locations include the Statue of Liberty, Elis Island and the FDR Homestead.
St. Paul’s, which is typically brimming with activity and visitors to its Mount Vernon location, was desolate on Wednesday, with its gate chained shut and its doors locked. A notice was posted at each lock that read, “Because of the Federal budget impasse, St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site is closed until further notice.”
Earlier this year, St. Paul’s began offering self-guided tours of its historic grounds, something that has become an immensely popular activity in the city. The grounds have a series of spiritual epitaphs that have been carved into gravestones over the last 300 years.
“The tours are something that a lot of seniors enjoy. It lets us get outside and it’s such a beautiful, religious location,” resident Ellie Marx said near the Wartburg campus. “Hopefully they are able to open back up soon.”
Outside of the locked gates, resident Eric Heard said he didn’t understand why the federal government shutdown would affect a “small, historic” church all the way in Mount Vernon. He joked that Mount Vernon residents should storm the gates; similar to what veterans did at the World War II Memorial on Tuesday.
“It just seems foolish to me that they would take the steps to simply shut down anything remotely related to the federal government. The economy is bad enough as it is,” he said. “Even if we aren’t allowed inside the church, the entire location shouldn’t be on lockdown. We should still be allowed to walk around the area.”
In Tuckahoe, Trustee Greg Luisi, a Republican, criticized the federal government for failing the people they are supposed to protect.
"I believe it is totally irresponsible of both political parties to allow the federal government to shut down. It is unfortunate that innocent citizens are being held hostage by its elected leaders in Washington," he said. "In the end, what has this failure to achieve a compromise accomplished? Surely not the confidence of the American people, but rather reassurance of how incompetent our political leaders can be."
As a result of the shutdown, inquiries to officials at St. Paul’s were not immediately returned to The Daily Voice.