The authoritative source on
  early churches of 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.

How to use this site
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
Bulletin Board

   About the book

This website got its start when I realized that my book on the New Jersey Churchscape would contain only a portion of the images and information I had pulled together over the last several years. Now it's appropriate to return the favor and mention the book, including some of the reviews that have been published.
     The book, published by Rutgers University Press, available in hardcover, contains 240 pages, 225 black-and-white illustrations (some of which can be seen on this site), index, and bibliography. There is an introductory essay, outlining the historical and cultural factors that shaped the churchscape, including construction types, architectural styles and why the churches are located where they are. The body of the book is organized into three sections, each dealing with a cluster of counties that were settled relatively early; the Hudson River section covers Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris and Union counties; the Raritan Valley region includes Middlesex, Monmouth, Hunterdon, parts of Mercer, Somerset, and Warren counties; and the Delaware River section includes Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, parts of Mercer, and Salem counties. Within each section, the churches are arranged chronologically, so the reader can see the development of regional and national architectural styles, as well as trace the effect of the rising affluence in the region.
      My intent was to make it the definitive work on the topic. The book sells for $35 and is available in most bookstores in the state (look in the Regional Interest area rather than in architecture or photography). You can also order it directly from Rutgers University Press or online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Churches featured in the book:
Trinity Episcopal church, Newark • First Presbyterian church, RahwayConnecticut Farms Presbyterian church, UnionFirst Presbyterian church, ElizabethPlainfield Friends, PlainfieldOld First church, NewarkFirst Reformed church, HackensackSpringfield Presbyterian churchEnglish Neighborhood Reformed church, RidgefieldBloomfield Presbyterian church Dutch Reformed Church of Schraalenburgh, BergenfieldOld Paramus Reformed church, RidgewoodOld North Reformed church, DumontSecond Presbyterian church, ElizabethMt. Freedom Presbyterian church, Morris countyEmmanuel Methodist Episcopal church, SpringfieldFirst Presbyterian church of New ProvidenceOld Bergen church, Jersey CitySt. Paul’s Episcopal church, RahwaySecond Reformed Dutch church, NewarkSt. Patrick’s Pro Cathedral, NewarkSt. Mark’s Episcopal church, West OrangeHouse of Prayer, NewarkFirst Presbyterian church of ChesterHigh Street Presbyterian church, NewarkSouth Park Presbyterian church, NewarkChurch of the Madonna, Fort LeeSt. Mary’s Roman Catholic church, NewarkNorth Reformed church, NewarkSt. John’s Episcopal church, ElizabethTrinity church, WoodbridgeSt. Peter’s Roman Catholic church, NewarkLayfayette Reformed Society, Jersey CityFirst Reformed Dutch Church of Bergen Neck, BayonneFirst Baptist church, ElizabethClinton Avenue Reformed church, NewarkSt. Patrick’s Roman Catholic church, Jersey CityTrinity Episcopal church, ElizabethChurch of the Holy Innocents, HobokenChurch of the Holy Assumption, MorristownCentral Presbyterian church, OrangeFirst Reformed Church of OrangeOur Lady of Grace Roman Catholic church, HobokenFirst Presbyterian Church of CaldwellSt. Mary’s Roman catholic church, PlainfieldEast Baptist church, ElizabethAdas Emuno synagogue, HobokenPrince Street Synagogue, NewarkNorth Baptist church, Jersey CitySt. Peter’s Episcopal church, MorristownHoly Cross Roman Catholic church, HarrisonPeddie Memorial Baptist church, Newark Seventh Day Baptist church, PlainfieldSt. Bridget’s Roman Catholic church, Jersey CityFirst Baptist church, HobokenKnox Presbyterian church, Kearney Church of the Immaculate Conception, MontclairCranford Presbyterian churchChurch of the Holy Rosary, ElizabethSt. Columba Catholic church, NewarkFirst Presbyterian church, MorristownSt. Lucy’s Roman Catholic church, Jersey CityCathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark

Zion Lutheran church, Oldwick
Old Tennent church, near FreeholdMt. Bethel Baptist meetinghouse, Warren townshipFriends Meetinghouse at Stony Brook, near PrincetonSt. Thomas Episcopal church, Alexandria townshipNeshanic Dutch Reformed church, Montgomery townshipChrist church, Shrewsbury n St. Peter’s church, FreeholdChrist church, New BrunswickFirst Dutch Reformed church, New BrunswickShrewsbury Friends meetinghouseSecond Presbyterian Church of Amwell, Raritan townshipLocktown Baptist church, Delaware townshipFirst Presbyterian church, ShrewsburyOld School Baptist church, HopewellDutch Reformed church of the Navesink, MarlboroHillsborough Dutch Reformed Church at MillstoneOld First church, MiddletownReformed Church of BlawenbergAllaire Village church, Allaire Village State Park Reformed Dutch church, Clover HillChrist Church, MiddletownOld Greenwich Presbyterian church, Warren countySt. James Episcopal church, PiscatawaytownKingwood Presbyterian church, Kingwood townshipWitherspoon Street Presbyterian church, PrincetonFirst English Presbyterian church, Raritan townshipMusconetcong Valley Presbyterian church, near HamptonFirst Presbyterian Church of CranburyFirst Presbyterian church, Basking RidgeFirst Presbyterian church, PrincetonReformed Church of GriggstownLittle York Christian church, Alexandria townshipSouth Bound Brook Reformed church, South Bound BrookMoorite church, Delaware township St. Peter’s Episcopal church, SpotswoodPluckemin Presbyterian churchTrinity Church, MatawanKingston Presbyterian churchSt. Peter’s Episcopal church, Perth AmboyPresbyterian Church of LambertvilleReformed Dutch church of Rocky HillBerean Baptist Church, StocktonQuakertown Friends meetinghouseFirst Presbyterian church, ClintonOldwick Methodist Episcopal churchSt. Peter’s Roman Catholic church, New BrunswickSimpson Methodist Episcopal church, Perth AmboyFairmont Methodist Episcopal church, Tewksbury TownshipBethlehem Baptist church, Union townshipTrinity church, PrincetonMethodist Episcopal church of Amwell, East Amwell townshipLiberty Corner Presbyterian church, Bernards townshipMt. Lebanon Methodist Episcopal church, Lebanon township First Baptist church, ManasquanFirst Methodist Episcopal church, New BrunswickSt. James Chapel (Church of the Presidents), Long BranchBethlehem Presbyterian church, Union townshipLower Valley Presbyterian church, CalifonReformed Church of High BridgeLebanon Methodist Episcopal churchKirkpatrick Chapel, Rutgers University, New BrunswickQuakertown Methodist Episcopal churchPresbyterian Church of FlemingtonSt. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal church, South Bound Brook First Baptist church of FreeholdCentral Baptist church, Atlantic HighlandsBound Brook Presbyterian churchThornley Chapel, Ocean GroveFirst Brethren church, Sergeantsville Mt. Airy Presbyterian church, near Lambertville • Lamington Presbyterian church • Glen Gardner Methodist Episcopal churchHolland Presbyterian churchMilford Methodist Episcopal church

St. Mary’s Episcopal church, Burlington
Woodbury Friends meetinghouseUpper Springfield Friends meetinghouse, Springfield townshipTrenton Friends meetinghouseBordentown Friends meetinghouseSt. Michael’s Episcopal church, TrentonHancock’s Bridge Friends meetinghouseOld Pilesgrove Presbyterian church, DaretownEmanuel Lutheran church at Friesburg, Alloway townshipEvesham Friends meetinghouse, Mt. Laurel townshipGreenwich Orthodox Friends meetinghouseDeerfield Presbyterian churchRancocas Friends meetinghouseSalem Friends meetinghouseChesterfield Preparative meetinghouse, CrosswicksMt. Holly Friends meetinghouseArney’s Mount Friends meetinghouse, Springfield townshipFairton Old Stone churchOld Swedes church, SwedesboroWoodstown Friends meetinghouseBurlington Friends meetinghouseMoravian church, near SwedesboroOld Broad Street Presbyterian church, BridgetonAdams Methodist Episcopal church, near SwedesboroFirst Cohansey Baptist Church of RoadstownMullica Hill Friends meetinghouseFirst Baptist church, WoodstownNewton Friends meetinghouse, CamdenSt. John’s Episcopal church, SalemFirst Presbyterian church, TrentonOld Pittsgrove Baptist church, Pittsgrove townshipSt. Andrews Episcopal church, Mt. HollySt. Peter’s Episcopal church, ClarksboroChapel of the Holy Innocents, St. Mary’s Hall, BurlingtonSt. Paul’s Episcopal church, TrentonSolomon Wesley Methodist Episcopal church, BlackwoodChurch of the Sacred Heart, TrentonSt. Stephen’s Episcopal church, Mullica HillSt. Mary’s church, BurlingtonBethlehem African Methodist Episcopal church, BurlingtonFirst Presbyterian church, SalemBroadway Methodist Episcopal church, SalemFirst Baptist church, BordentownJacob’s Chapel AME, near WrightstownSt. Andrew’s Episcopal church, BridgetonQuinton Methodist churchMt. Moriah African Methodist Episcopal church, Mt. HollyChurch of the Immaculate Conception, CamdenFirst Presbyterian church, BordentownDeerfield Methodist Episcopal churchJuliustown Methodist Episcopal churchSacred Heart Roman Catholic church, Mt. HollyProspect Avenue Presbyterian church, TrentonProvidence Presbyterian church, near FlorenceBridgeboro Methodist Episcopal churchAvas Achim synagogue, NormaOr Yisrael synagogue, RosenhaynFirst Methodist church, Trenton St. Stanislaus Catholic church, TrentonMt. Holly Baptist church


For those who have not (yet) purchased my book on The New Jersey Churchscape, a review recently received from Professor John Fea, Ph,D, Assistant Professor of American History, Messiah College, Grantham, PA., may be of interest. Many thanks to Professor Fea.

As a graduate student writing a dissertation on the early religious history of colonial New Jersey I could have used Frank Greenagel’s The New Jersey Churchscape. This handsome collection of church photographs surpasses the work of Ellis Derry as the definitive catalog of eighteenth and nineteenth century churches in the Garden State. Each photograph includes the date of construction, the founding date of the given congregation and, in some cases, the date of renovations and additions to the original structures. Greenagel estimates that there are approximately 1100 eighteenth- and nineteenth-century church buildings currently standing in New Jersey, making the task of choosing the 225 churches that appear in his book a difficult one. In the end, he chose to publish photographs of all the existing eighteenth-century structures in the state and a representative selection of nineteenth-century churches based on architectural style and religious diversity.

     But Greenagel is not content on merely producing a coffee-table book of photographs of New Jersey churches. His introductory essay, entitled “The Churchscape: Diversity, Location, Construction, and Design,” challenges us to think about the role that churches have played in the social, economic, cultural, and religious history of New Jersey. Greenagel is aware that these churches were constructed and reconstructed in a given time and place. Such historical and architectural context—which he describes here as a “Churchscape”—provides us with a fuller understanding of a building’s history. He grounds this essay in the rich and diverse history of early New Jersey, reminding us that the colony, and later the state, was never a culturally homogeneous place. Such heterogeneity was exemplified in these material manifestations of religious and social life. From the simplicity of the seventeenth-century Quaker meetinghouse to the Gothic designs of post-Civil War mainline Protestant and Catholic buildings, religious beliefs, steeped in the social and cultural milieu of a given era, are essential for interpreting these sacred spaces. Greenagel is thus very sensitive to region and religious pluralism.

     The church photographs are divided into three New Jersey regions—the Hudson River, the Delaware Valley, and the Raritan Valley. They also represent a host of different religious groups ranging from Catholicism and Judaism (synagogues) to smaller Protestant denominations such as the Seventh Day Baptists and the Moravians.
At one level, Greenagel’s book is a wonderful reference tool. I am sure that I will consult it regularly in my continued research on colonial life and religion in early New Jersey. At a deeper level, Greenagel’s notion of a “Churchscape” offers a worthwhile way to think about material religion in early New Jersey or, for that matter, anywhere else. Scholars are beginning to use church buildings and material culture generally as invaluable sources for “doing” American religious history. While the term “Churchscape” is, as far as I can tell, unique to Greenagel, the idea of exploring the religious world and community that surrounds these buildings and their construction is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. For example, did the choice of building materials reflect the social standing of a given denomination or congregation? Friends’s meetinghouses were supposed to model Quaker simplicity and frugality, but they were also made of brick, the most expensive building material available in the eighteenth century. What do building renovations—such as the construction of a new pulpit, the erection of steeple, or the installation of more comfortable pews--tell us about the history of a given church, denomination, and its people? Many churches, such as the Methodists and Baptists, used their buildings to reflect an ecclesiastical move away from the rough and tumble religiosity of their founding and toward a more refined place on the mid-nineteenth-century religious landscape. Furthermore, how did the challenges of war, especially the American War for Independence, influence religious communities and their buildings? The movement of British and colonial troops damaged several of the churches included in this collection. Or how did local revivals and other aspects of the everyday religious life affect the erection of church buildings? My research shows that the construction of the “Old Stone Church” by Fairfield (Cumberland County) Presbyterians in 1781 may have contributed to a doubling of the church membership. I have also found that the construction of the “Old Swedes Church” in Swedesboro was closely linked to the loss of Swedish ethnic identity on the Delaware and the Swedes’s late eighteenth-century ecclesiastical transition from Lutheranism to Episcopalianism.

     Greenagel does not have the space to develop his thoughts along these lines or treat individual cases, but his book does make an attempt to push us in such interpretive directions. Those who are willing to take up his challenge may be surprised to find that the early records needed to construct these New Jersey “Churchscapes” are often extant. Through some careful detective work the stories of these buildings and their place in the life of a given religious community can be uncovered and told, providing us with a richer history of New Jersey’s past. For those interested in such a pursuit, Greenagel’s book, and his accompanying web site (www.njchurchscape.com) will be the starting point for many years to come.

 

 

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Copyright (c) 2002 Frank L. Greenagel