The authoritative source on
  early churches in New Jersey

   

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.

Database fields
  Church name
  Denomination
  County
  Municipality
  Year organized
  Year built
  Additions\renovations
  Architect
  Architectural style
  Construction
  Current use
  Associated burial ground

How to use this site
Post a Query
Respond to readers' queries
Consult the database
Annotate the database
Upload a photo
Suggest a church for inclusion

Glossary
List of churches, by county

Photographic notes
Links to related sites
Chatroom

  The churchscape database

As of December 2004 there are about 850 churches in the database and a half dozen are added every few weeks. The information comes from a variety of sources, but relies largely on the several major county histories published between 1881 and 1885, supplemented by histories of specific cities (e.g., Elizabeth) and the historical accounts published by a number of the churches themselves. Not all of those works were written to today's standards of scholarship and accuracy, and I have noted many examples of erroneous dates. (I make some errors in transcribing the data, too, and I appreciate all corrections and suggestions from readers.)
      More serious are the omissions in those publications. For the most part, Black churches are omitted, or simply mentioned in passing, with no account of their founding or construction. The leading Presbyterian and Episcopal churches usually are amply covered, but any sect that is not a mainstream Christian church is mentioned perfunctorily, if at all. And, of course, there are no churches built after the early 1880s, when those books were published.
     The database includes only churches that I have personally visited and photographed. I estimate that about one-fourth of the churches noted in those nineteenth century tomes are no longer in existence, but that varies enormously from county to county.
     The information in those books has been essential to this effort, but also limited, as the compilers and authors (often the churches minister) were more concerned with lists of previous ministers, deacons and elders, and the cost of construction and the new organ than the considerations that went into the design or selection of an architect. Considerations of location of the church, however, are often covered extensively. Those limitations aside, a surprising amount of detail is available on many of the state's earliest churches, down to the number of bricks purchased and the amount of rum consumed by the builders and their assistants (for the Dutch Reformed Church in Neshanic). It is unusual, however, to find the name of the architect or any information about the ethnicity of the congregation.

     There are roughly 1200 surviving churches from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the state; to date I have photographed about 900 of them. I've made a particular effort to find all of those listed on the National Register, HABS, and those which date to the eighteenth century, but the remaining task is still a formidable one, and I appreciate any assistance from readers in identifying churches for inclusion.

Example: Go to County list

To annotate
: I are very pleased to receive additional information, corrections, and comments on any of the churches in the state. I will use such information to update and extend our database. I ask that you include the source of your information, which may be personal recollection, on-site inspection or a printed source. Please provide the standard bibliographic citation if the source is a published one (e.g., Rudolph J. Vecoli, The People of New Jersey, Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1965, p67). I will attempt to verify the information before it is posted or added to the database in order to maintain a high level of confidence in the information.

To query the database: On the Home page near the top of the left-hand column is a place to type in a keyword or two (e.g., Lutheran+Hunterdon). That ought to give you a list of all the Lutheran churches in Hunterdon county. You may have to play with it a bit to find the right terms for the information you seek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright (c) 2001 Frank L. Greenagel