The authoritative source on
  early churches of New Jersey

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Old First Methodist Episcopal Church
West Long Branch, Monmouth County

West Long Branch was originally called Mechanicsburg, then
Branchburg, and it was once a part of Eatontown. Throughout
those changes the Methodist church remained anchored in its
place along Wall Street. Francis Asbury noted in his journal that he
preached here in 1791 and in 1809, although both services were
held in the old Free church (erected in 1790), which preceded this
The church was incorporated in 1809 as the Methodist Episcopal
Church at Long Branch, and accepted the donation of a lot for
a church and burial ground at the present location. They erected
a two-story wooden-frame building, although Ellis notes that the
second story could only be reached by means of a ladder. The
church was enlarged in 1843, and remodeled in 1856. A major
renovation was undertaken in 1874 when the belltower was added,
a 13’ chancel was extended to the rear, the walls were replastered
and new furniture was purchased. Much of the exterior trim dates
to that reconstruction, but from turn-of-the-century photographs
the exterior seems hardly to have changed in the last 100 years.
When St. Luke’s was built about 1860, the church changed its
name to Long Branch: First, but it has apparently been known as
Old First for generations. The church was the scene and/or the
sponsor of large revivals held in 1808 and 1843. Directly across
the street the congregation erected a Social Hall in 1885.




Copyright (c) 2009 Frank L. Greenagel