Bethany Presbyterian Church
Bridgeton, Cumberland County
founded 1838, built 1840
The large window that takes up most of the tower gives this church
a 20th century feel to it, so I was surprised when I learned it was
in 1840. It is clearly in the Gothic tradition, although it wasn't
modeled after a particular English Gothic church as was the case for
many of the Episcopal churches erected in the state after about 1846. It
owes a debt to Trinity Church in New Haven, Connecticut, generally
credited with being the first Gothic church in this county. Trinity
was designed by Ithiel Town, an important early American
Christ Church in Easton, Maryland, built between 1840-1848, bears an exceptionally strong resemblance to Bethany; Christ Church was built from plans drawn by William Strickland, a Philadelphia architect. Those plans were carried to Maryland by the new minister there from St. John's Episcopal church in Salem. I have no doubt that Bethany Presbyterian was built from the same plans as St. John's; the church in Easton was the third one built from those plans.
The entry porch is a later addition, but the three-part door is original. There once was an ornate steeple, identical to the one on the church in Maryland. Strickland, born in Navesink, NJ, was an important American architect and engineer; he designed the Second Bank of the United States, in Philadelphia, which gave a real boost to the Greek Revival style.