The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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We've created a database and photographic inventory on more than half the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it each month. We welcome and solicit all contributions and suggestions from our visitors.

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St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church
New Brunswick, Middlesex County


The cornerstone for the church was laid in 1856, but the building was not completed until 1865. It sits across the street from Rutgers University, and is the second church erected by this parish which was organized about 1829 when they built their first church.
      Patrick Keely, an Irish immigrant who became the foremost designer of Catholic churches in this country, is usually credited as the architect. He designed several in Jersey City, Newark, Mt Holly and Hoboken, and about 600 more throughout the country. However, recent information (7/2004) from St. Peter's suggests that Jeremiah O'Rourke rather than Keely may have been responsible for that design. I am in doubt, since O'Rourke in 1856 was still working as a draftsman for a Newark builder and had yet to open his own architectural office. It does not seem likely that that church would have selected an architect without an established practice instead of Keely, who had already designed dozens of major Catholic churches in the region. Frankly, the design seems much closer to Keely's other work in its symmetry and delicate details, than to O'Rourke's which is heavier and often includes Romanesque elements. Note: the church's website and other publications now (2/2010) list Keely as the architect.
     There is a mid-eighteenth century Victorian/Gothic convent adjacent to the church which has been adapted to use as a meeting center, and an 1860's Greek Revival rectory on the other side, all designated on state and national Registers of Historic Places.




Copyright (c) 2001 Frank L. Greenagel