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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James Roman Catholic Church
is an impressive neoclassical church in the center of Red Bank,
completed in 1894. It stands next to the Catholic high school (St.
James Hall) and together they occupy most of a city block. But
for the tower, a later addition in 1911, the church exhibits the perfect
symmetry that neoclassical architects regarded so highly. There
are only a few neoclassical/Renaissance Revival churches in
the state, all Catholic. The architect was Joseph Scannell, who practiced
in Red Bank. Their first church was built in the 1860s at Pearl
and Wall Streets.
Until 1843 Catholics in the state could
not legally practice their religion openly; when they were
allowed to erect a church it was usually on the outskirts
of town, not in a prominent location. By 1860, however, Catholics
had become the largest denomination in the state. In Newark,
Jersey City, Paterson, Trenton and other cities the church
moved quickly to remind people of its new role by purchasing
highly-visible property near the center of town. And then
they proceeded to build large, well-designed Gothic, Baroque or Neoclassical
buildings, as here.