authoritative source on
early churches of New Jersey
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.
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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
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
and an 1860's
Greek Revival rectory on the other side, all designated on state and national
Registers of Historic Places.