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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   Photographic Inventory

First Presbyterian Church
Trenton, Mercer County


The congregation was founded in 1712 and this fine building was erected in 1839 on State Street. This is a large church that once dominated its section of the city, but now gets a bit lost in the surrounding office buildings; fortunately the small graveyards on either side of the church provide a little room. It was designed by an architect from New Haven, Connecticut, Nelson Hotchkiss, although one authority suggests that Charles Steadman of Princeton may have designed it (doubtful, in my mind). Hotchkiss is an interesting candidate; he was active in Connecticut by 1839 when he designed the Oxford Congregational church, an early Greek Revival building. He was responsible for alterations to the First Congregational church in Guildford, also in the Greek Revival mode, in 1861. Neither of those churches resemble this, but that is perhaps to be expected.
      This is the largest Greek Revival church in the state, and the plan is one adapted and scaled down by more than a dozen churches, mostly in central Jersey. The cupola/belfry is not Greek Revival (it is echoed in several churches in Connecticut), but everything else about the church is. It is actually fairly common to find a neoclassical belfry on a Greek Revival building; see the First Presbyterian Church in Cranbury (Middlesex) and the Presbyterian church in Basking Ridge (Somerset).
     There are a number of important people buried in the two flanking burial grounds (as well as under the parking lots and under the church); the most prominent of whom is probably Colonel Johann Rall, commander of the German troups stationed in Trenton and killed in the battle of Trenton in December 1776.
Presidents John Adams and James Monroe attended services here, as did the Marquis de Lafayette and Daniel Webster.

National Register.




Copyright (c) 2004 Frank L. Greenagel