The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than three-fourths of the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it more or less each month. We welcome and solicit all corrections, contributions and suggestions from our visitors.

Bethany Presbyterian Church

Bridgeton, Cumberland County

founded 1838, built 1840

Bethany Presbyterian, BridgetonThe 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 built 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 architect.
      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.