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  early churches of New Jersey

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Willow Grove Methodist Episcopal Church
Willow Grove, Pittsgrove Township, Salem County

There is a record of the Salem Circuit of the Methodist Church showing a $5.75 contribution from the Fork Bridge Class in 1802; additional contributions followed twice later in the year, which provides some evidence that Methodists were meeting regularly at what eventually became known as Willow Grove. Fork Bridge became Fork Mills when a new grist mill was established, and later, as a few houses were built there, a community, often called a grove, was located; and thence to the name Willow Grove. That name first appears as changed from Fork Mills in the circuit records for 1853. This congregation and the one in Woodruff became the new Willow Grove Circuit in that year. The original meetinghouse was probably built about 1824, then a larger one erected in 1858. That was destroyed by fire in 1880.
Within months of the fire the present building was erected, mostly or entirely by members of the church—farmers and millwrights. It is a three-bay frame building with a vaulted ceiling made from 21 foot, 6"x 8" rough-cut red oak timbers locked in place by long iron bolts and oak pins. The window and door surrounds are original and quite characteristic of the period. The corner pilasters are identical to those on the Union Grove Methodist church, erected 11 years earlier. The window over the entrance is a nice touch, as is the paneling beneath the oculus.




Copyright (c) 2002 Frank L. Greenagel