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  early churches of New Jersey

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Reformed Dutch Church of the Navesink
Marlboro Township, Monmouth County

It is a telling indication of the religious makeup of the early years that the first resident Dominie (minister) here, Rev. Joseph Morgan, was ordained in both Presbyterian and Reformed churches, and preached here and at the Old Scots meetinghouse in the early 1700s. Many of the settlers were descendents of Long Island Dutch, and the Reformed preachers who came from Brooklyn found “their services exceedingly burdensome because of
the distance they were compelled to travel, and the danger of crossing the great bay in small boats.” So local congregations obtained a minister wherever they could, as long as he could speak Dutch.
      This is the congregation’s third church, and the second on the site. Known as the Old Brick Church of Marlborough, except for the Gothic-arch windows it has very little in common (architecturally) with the Reformed churches in Bergen, Hudson or Somerset counties, the other concentrations of early Dutch congregations. That style of window appears in a Dutch Reformed church by 1791 in Hackensack, and was more-or-less conventional until the adoption of Greek revival in the mid-1840s. This is a large red brick meetinghouse (45’ x 65’) laid in Flemish bond with sandstone trim; it has a simple octagonal belfry— both features that were not uncommon on churches of the period. Bricks for it were made on an adjoining farm. The building cost a little more than $10,000.
      Its internal appearance differed slightly from today; the pulpit was higher and there was a window back of it—those changes were made in 1853. By Rev. Morgan’s time (1709) the congregation was known as the Dutch Reformed Church of Freehold & Middletown, but sometimes still called the Congregation of the Navesink. Marlboro was then in the township of Freehold. Until 1826 there was no other Reformed congregation in the county. The Middletown portion of the congregation built a church in Holmdel, and the Freehold contingent erected this building, which has changed very little in its outward appearance since then.




Copyright (c) 2005 Frank L. Greenagel