City officials approved the inclusion of United Presbyterian and First Presbyterian churches to the municipal historic landmarks register.
The First Presbyterian Church (pictured) located at 320 Main Street was erected in 1852 on land donated by the Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.). It has been continuously used as a house of worship for more than 160 years, according to city records.
One of the church’s founding member Sarah Colt is known for having established New Jersey’s first Sunday school program at the church.
The church was utilized by the city’s elites. Jennie T. Hobart, wife to United States vice-president Garret Hobart, contributed to the church’s success by establishing scholarships. The Hobarts appear to have attended this church before switching to the United Presbyterian Church, located at 340 Broadway, whose cornerstone was laid in 1885.
Committee of the Main Street church sought to establish a new location, thus resolving to build a church in the corner of Graham Avenue and Broadway.
The much more elegant church was designed by Josiah Cleaveland Cady, an architect, who designed the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital’s Skin and Cancer Hospital, the American Museum of Natural History, 15 buildings on the campus of Yale University, and a large number of structures throughout the northeast.
A city document describes the church as “one of the finest examples of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture in the nation.” Soon, the older church lost a large number of its congregants to the new.
Wealthy residents of the city’s east side were served by the church. One of those wealthy residents was the vice-president of the United States from 1897–1899: Hobart. In 1899 he passed away; his funeral service was held at the church, bringing president William McKinley and New York governor Theodore Roosevelt.
Roosevelt succeeded Hobart as vice-president and later McKinley as president.
Just as the past of the two churches were intertwined so too is there future. City council members last Tuesday unanimously approved the inclusion of the two churches to the municipal register of historic sites.