St. James Chapel – Church of the Presidents
Elberon, Monmouth County
founded 1869, built 1869
National Register of Historic Places
The proper name of this odd church is St. James Chapel, but it is widely known as the Church of the Presidents because seven Presidents, beginning with Grant, attended services there at one time. The church was erected in 1869 and was designed by the New York firm of Potter and Robertson that designed several buildings for Princeton University.It is on the National Register of Historic Places, but in spite of that, it has been allowed to deteriorate seriously. There appears to be some attempt at restoration, and in 2004 the New Jersey Historic Trust awarded a major grant to the church, but there was no sign of activity on the several visits I made to the site.
The massive central tower and the curious side entrances, along with the fish scale shingles just don't seem to work well together (my opinion). It's a pretty strange mixture of styles, but interesting, and so very much worth preserving because of the historical associations.