The authoritative source on
      early churches of New Jersey


Salem Cover

Mercer cover

Monmouth book cover


Sussex book cover

Warren book cover

Rutgers bookcover


Somerset bookcover


and a forthcoming book



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.




Can you help to identify these churches?


Each month or two I post an image of a church I've photographed but otherwise know little (or nothing) about, soliciting the assistance of readers to provide vital missing information or explanation. Readers have identified 29 of the churches, and I'm very appreciative of that help. Please send a note with any information, or even your speculation—flg@njchurchscape.com.


Unknown Churches
Jersey City

Greek Revival church

Jersey City, Hudson County

 

The sign was not readable on this small church on Summit Avenue in Jersey City. It stands a few blocks from the exceptional St. John's Episcopal Church that is being allowed to fall apart. It was once a very upscale neithborhood. I believe the entry vestibule is a later addition. The round arch windows on the front and side are very un-Greek, but they are probably original. By the later 1850s people were less concerned with archaeological correctness and more interested in being fashionable.

Plainfield

New Apostolic Church

Plainfield, Union County

 

Located at Putnam and Richmond, this small vernacular church could have been built in the late nineteenth century. It was located in what was then the outskirts of town, when blacks, Methodists and Catholics had been relegated.

     Bill Woodall noted the church does not appear on the Sanford Insurance maps in the 19th century, and Jane Thoner, Librarian in the Special Collections Dept. of the Plainfield Public Library noted this was the Messaih English Evangelical Lutheran church, erected about 1927. Ms Thoner also called attetnion to an an upcoming exhibition theLibrary— Building Faith in Plainfield--Exploring the City's History Through its Houses of Worship.

Norsk

Norwegian Congregational Church

Orange, Essex County

 

This is now the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, located at Cleveland Street & Washington, a block from the large Washington Cemetery . The entry porch may be a later addition to the wooden frame church, but the tower and windows suggest it was built in the 1880s or 1890s. On the 1912 Sanborn Insurance map this was the Norwegian Congregational Church so that is how I have labeled it; since at least 1968 it has been the Mt. Carmel Baptist church.

     Paul Schopp determined that the building was not there in the nineteenth century, so this will be scratched from the Essex book.

Whippany

Monroe Union Chapel?

Whippany, Morris County

This unusual chapel on Hanover Terrace was built about 1894, perhaps for a Methodist congregation. It later became the Monroe Union Chapel, and currently serves as the Senior Citizens Center. It is identical to the Chrystal Street Presbyterian Chapel in Dover, which was erected in 1892. Both were built from the same set of plans, perhaps by the same contractor. I'l like to know more about both building and their original congregations--there's certainly some link.

Columbus seminary

Columbus Seminary

Columbus, Burlington County

About 10 years ago I photographed this building because it appeared to be a church. I later found it was a seminary, but have no other information.

      My dependable source is Paul Schopp who notes the building on Atlantic Avenue in Columbus, New Jersey began life as the Odd Fellows’ Hall for the Mansfield Council, so it was never of ecclesiastical origins. During the early twentieth century, the Odd Fellows and other fraternal organizations met upstairs and a pork packing, fat rendering and sausage making factory occupied the first floor. Meeting nights in the hall must have been quite the olfactory experience!

Jersey City - Central ME

Central Missonary Baptist

Pavonia, just off Cole

Jersey City, Hudson County

Paul Schopp (who else) provided the missing information: It  is the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, not the Central Methodist. The congregation organized during 1866, the centenary year for Methodism. The trustees purchased the lot on Pavonia and began constructing their building, beginning, it appears, with the Sunday School section. The congregation dedicated the full edifice, including the sanctuary, on 24 May 1885, after an expenditure of $25,000. The sanctuary was trimmed out handsomely in black walnut and could accommodate 500 worshipers.

Olivet

Olivet church?

Hunterdon Street

Newark, Essex County

 

Paul Schopp (as usual) identified this building—now the home of the Shiloh Progressive Baptist congregation. It was the Olivet Chapel, a mission church of First Presbyterian Church, Newark. By the turn of the twentieth century, First Church had a large Italian contingent in its congregation. With many more émigrés arriving in Newark from Italy, the First Church congregants established Olivet to serve the newly arrived community. It appears First Church formed the chapel between 1901 and 1903.

Citadel of Hope Mission

70 Grove Street, just north of Eaton

East Orange, Essex County

This is a small wooden-frame chapel that may be twentieth century. Judging by the style, and therefore the presumed age of the neighboring housing, I have tentatively placed it in the 1890s.

Update: Paul Schopp notes this is the original location of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The congregation later moved to 153 Glenwood Avenue in East Orange, where it remains active. I am not certain, but it appears the congregation held its first service in the North Grove Street sanctuary on 6 December 1924. I do know the building was NOT there in 1911, so it is definitely not a nineteenth-century building.

Lacey Twsp

Christian Bible Baptist church

Route 9, south of Bayville

Lacey Township, Ocean County

 

This small wooden frame building was probably erected in 1870-1880s. There was no cornerstone or other date marker.

Update: Paul Schopp identified it as the former Cedar Creek/Lanoka Harbor Methodist Church, which reportedly was constructed where the Baptist Church once stood. Perhaps it is the former Baptist Church as well. The Methodist congregation dates to 1904 and the older Baptist congregation dates to 1850.

Kilmer St-N.B.

Reformed church?

Kilmer Street

New Brunswick, Middlesex County

I was in a hurry and busy shooting another church a couple of blocks away when I noticed this building. I should have taken the time to walk over and get any particulars, but didn't. I suspect there are lots of people who might be able to provide some details.

Update: It didn't taken Bill Woodall even 24 hours to identify this as the Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran church. It was erected in 1879 for a German-speaking congregation, and services were in German for many years. There does seem to be something Germanic about the building in this photo.

Vineland

Vineland church?

6th & Chestnut

Vineland, Cumberland County

This seems like it might have been built as a church, but there are no obvious ceremonial elements. The round-arch windows are not uncommon for the period, even for a factory. I cannot find anything in Cushing so if it was a church, it would have been erected after 1883.

Update: Paul Schopp, who has rapidly become my principal source, identified this as a school--Vineland Public School 21.

Bridgeton Bapt

Baptist chapel

Henry & Pine Streets

Bridgeton, Cumberland County

Paul Schopp identified this as the South Baptist Chapel and cited an 1895 article mentioning it. This neglected board and batten chapel is quite an interesting building. It was well-designed, and although a board-and-batten construction, it lacks many of the basic features of an Episcopal plan. The cornerstone has been effaced, and now reads "St. ____ AME, 1947." But it is clearly a mid-nineteenth century building, probably built in the 1860s. Checking the 1876 map of Bridgeton we find the notation that a Baptist chapel was located at that address. That's a start, but additional information would be appreciated.

Orange-BibleWay


Bible Way church

North Essex Street, near Main

Orange, Essex County

Another identification by Paul Schopp. This is a stylish building in a residential area was the Church of the New Jerusalem, a Swedenborgian sect. It was built about 1888. I think it likely that George Inness, an important American artist who lived in Montclair at the time, was a member. In 1933 the New York firm of Taylor & Mosley modernized the building.

Meola church - unknown

somewhere in South Jersey

 

A reader of this website sent a photo of a church he made a number of years ago somewhere in south Jersey. The building is an interesting one—it appears to be brick, with tall Gothic arch windows and a Gothic entrance, and pilasters separating the bays. It is/was covered with ivy and stands in an expansive cemetery. It doesn't fit into any obvious category.

I've worked Cumberland, Cape May and Burlington pretty well, and doubt that it is located there; I've spent less time in Salem, Atlantic and Gloucester, so feel it is more likely in one of those counties, if it still exists.

New Hope Pentacostal

New Hope Pentacostal Church

Route 543 just south of Burlington

 

We found this trim frame church, probaly built about 1890, most likely by a Methodist group. There is no cornerstone or other indication of its original congregation.

 

Update: Even before this page was released Paul Schopp came up with an identification. It was originally the Shedaker's Sunday School, organized about 1860 under the auspices of the Broad Street Methodist church in Burlington. I'm pretty sure this building was either erected later or underwent a major renovation, probably in the 1880s-1890s.

Holy Light

Holy Light Church of Jesus Christ

Burlington, at the corner of Union & York

 

An interesting late-nineteenth century Romanesque church standands in Burlington. The church was closed when I visited in 2001, so there was no one to ask about its history, and it's not listed in Woodward, so it was built after 1883.

 

Update: Paul Schopp had no trouble with this one; his father preached there many years ago. It was erected as the Union Methodist Episcopal church.

daretown unknown

unknown frame church
between Daretown and Rosehayn


Barry Caselli, one of the regular contributors to this site sent this photo of a small frame church he photographed a few years ago. He subsequently located it and found it was a school, not a church.

Elizabeth

Unification Chapel

Elizabeth, Grand Street, just off Route 1-9

 

Update: Paul Schopp said he had a couple of minutes so decided to investigate this wooden frame church in Elizabeth that has intrigued me for years. He found that the building dates to sometime between 1901 and 1903. It was constructed as the Mount Zion Mission by members of the First Church of Christ Scientist. The “congregation associated with the edifice were known as “Faith Curists.”

     The second floor actually served as a residential space and the rear section of the ground floor provided storage space. They held no services on Sunday; rather, they had a sewing school for children and held services in the evening and on Tuesday afternoons. A “Mr. Bennett” served as the local pastor and anytime he inserted notices in the newspapers, he always referred to the building as a “Gospel Mission.