No. 105 September 2013 
     The authoritative source on
    early churches of New Jersey


   ISSN 1543-3250

 

Salem


Mercer cover

Monmouth book cover


Sussex book cover

Warren book cover

Rutgers bookcover


Somerset bookcover

 

Pburg


just published


Morris cover


Burlington cover


About this site

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.




About us

In January the Wooden Nail Press issued my two recent books—The Early Religious Architecture of Burlington County and Steeple Envy, on the early religious architecture of Morris County, and at the beginning of June the analysis of the churches of Essex County, A Mighty Architecture Shout, was available. All three are little over 400 pages in length and follow the same coverage as the previous works. In the next three months, two more titles will follow: Union County and Cumberland County. To be closely followed by Hudson County. It is not that I have suddenly become more productive, but that the long gestation period (about 5 years) is nearing full-term. Sometimes I hold up a book simply because I'm frustrated in my desire to find the name of architects for a couple of fine buildings and don't want to release it until I'm satisfied I can do no more. That was the case in Burlington. With the books on Essex and Cumberland I've been more casual about architects—if a diligent effort doesn't yield a name, I'm going to proceed. If I subsequently find a name, that will appear here.

New Jersey Churchscape
was developed more than eleven years ago by Frank L. Greenagel, and it appears to have won a regular following among preservationists, architectural historians, and even a few church-goers. Greenagel is the author of The New Jersey Churchscape: Encountering the 18th and 19th Century Churches, published by Rutgers University Press, and another 10 books on the religious architecture of the state. After a couple of decades as a book publisher, he established his own publishing firm, the Wooden Nail Press, largely to bring his work on the religious architecture of the state to a broader audience. That began with his book on the old churches of Hunterdon County (Less Stately Mansions), which was honored by the Hunterdon County Planning Board's annual Donald Jones Award in 2000; four years later he was given an award by the Somerset County Historic and Cultural Commission Phillipsburg Area Historic Sites Survey, a 285 page book supported with funding from the National Parks Service, and recently published Historic Architecture of Phillipsburg, which for a brief period, was listed as one of the five "hottest" books on architectural history by Amazon. It has since cooled off. Considerably.

One of his recent works is A Brief History of Religious Architecture in New Jersey, 1703-1900. The emphasis is on the cultural and economic factors that largely shaped the 18th and 19th century churches in the state. Dr. Greenagel has been photographing the churches of New Jersey for the last thirteen years, and lectures often on the topic to historic and preservation groups. He is the author of the article on religious architecture in the Encyclopedia of New Jersey, on religious diversity for Rutgers' Mapping New Jersey, and of an article on Methodist church architecture of the nineteenth century in New Jersey History (Spring/Summer 2004). The extended description and analysis of the religious architecture of Monmouth County (A Proper Style) was published in 2009. A study of the old churches and meetinghouses of Mercer County (Asserting Legitimacy, Maintaining ) was published in 2010, and is available from Amazon.com, as is the book on the The Salem Churchscape, published in 2012.The work on Essex County, A Mighty Architectural Shout, was published in July 2013. Incidentally, he does have a Facebook page, but there's not much there and he doesn't seem to have a lot of friends.

His activities directing the restoration of a late-colonial manor in Phillipsburg has occupied him almost full-time until very recently. The Somerset book, titled Historic Churches of Somerset County, was published seven years ago, the Warren county book, The Warren Churchscape, and the books on the old churches of Sussex County and Hunterdon County are all available from Amazon. His book on photography, Think Like a Photographer, was published by Mondo Publishing for the school market. He has also created a wiki on the Roseberry house in Phillipsburg, which is undergoing restoration. That's very satisfying, but on the whole he'd rather be backpacking in New Mexico, Utah or Colorado and photographing the Anasazi ruins, as you might have guessed from his photo.

He can be reached at or occasionally at (908) 827-1778. In real life, Dr. Greenagel has more-or-less retired as Managing Director of Guided Learning Systems, a consultancy on technology-based learning systems and instructional design. He developed a series of virtual apprenticeships in adult learning and web competencies in which he worked with clients to make their own seminars more "web-centric." An intensive effort, that went nowhere.

Technical advisor for this site is William P. Woodall, an adjunct faculty member in the Computer Science department at Raritan Valley Community College. (wpw@woodall.com)


Author's note: The works rely heavily on the county histories, published in the 1880s (Snell, Woodward, Ellis, Cushing, et al), for dates and other details, in full knowledge that the data there is maddeningly incomplete and not infrequently inaccurate. An invaluable corrective is the local knowledge that our readers bring to us, often with a personal reminiscence of a connection to the church, or even of a parent or other ancestor who preached at one or more of the churches. Before that information is lost to the public record, one of our aims is to incorporate much of it into the materials we include about each church. I am still (now eleven years after I began) learning the kinds of information that would be useful—the exact address of each church and any published work on the congregation.

Information on architects and builders is difficult to find—most people in the nineteenth century paid little attention to those matters, and even today congregations and ministers often show relatively little interest in who was involved in the design and construction of their church. To whatever small extent I can, this site will try to remedy that neglect. This website uses the term churchscape to encompass not only the scale, design, materials and setting, but the denomination of the original church and their successors; it includes the architectural, cultural and religious traditions associated with the church and the region. I accept no advertising and am not funded by any grants or subsidies. The effort involved is not the fabled "labor of love" (although it is a considerable source of satisfaction), but rather an opportunity to make available a large corpus of material that otherwise might lie unused, and to experiment with a variety of tools and functions in an attempt to learn how to use the web to build a broad resource around a rather narrowly-focused topic. The upshot is that the site may undergo considerable change, experimentation and adaptation as Bill Woodall and I get feedback and gain experience.