Cold, glass & steel buildings are becoming the landscape of American cities.
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Historic buildings are becoming an endangered species. The good news is the NJ Historic Trust recognized the need to preserve this endangered species and granted the caretakers of one of these building’s $487,797 for exterior capital improvements. This building, The First Reformed Church in New Brunswick is home to the oldest congregation in the city of New Brunswick.
The building, which stands in the city’s first commercial downtown district, the Historic Hiram Market, has been serving the New Brunswick community since 1812. The building is among the oldest, most important buildings in New Brunswick. Its highly visible steeple is home to the “Town Clock,” installed by the City of New Brunswick after 1828.
Additionally, the building is surrounded by a pre-revolutionary war cemetery, where noteworthy New Brunswick citizens and individuals of great importance to the state and country are buried. Headstones can be found in the historic cemetery with names including Frelinghuysen, Livingston, Suydam and Hardenbergh.
The entire building property, which includes the church, an education building, a sexton’s house and the cemetery, was added to the National and State Historic Registers in 1988.
Today’s Community Involvement
While the congregation of this church dates back nearly 300 years, much community life is still thriving within the walls we want to preserve. The building serves the community by providing space for:
- “House of Manna”, the family feeding program of “Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen”
- Homeless men’s shelter two weeks each winter
- Downtown Lunchtime Concerts
- The Princeton Songwriters Association
- A martial arts group
- The neighborhood polling site
With a grant from the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, the building is the site of the Downtown Lunchtime Recital Series of free recitals and free lunch for area workers, school children, and seniors.
Why We Need Your Help?
In recent years, the area immediately surrounding the building’s property has been revitalized and serves as the cultural hub of the larger New Brunswick area. Recognizing that our historic buildings are in great need of restoration and preservation, the building’s congregation engaged a historic preservation architect.
In January 2007, Westfield Architects & Preservation Consultants began preparation of a complete Historic Site Management Plan for the building complex. In 2008, First Reformed Church received a $50,000 planning grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust to further the planning process.
At the same time, parts of the angels fell down and slates fell from the steeple and the roof, and the tower of the education building was judged unstable. The situation became urgent.
With the approval of the $487,797 grant from the NJ Historic Trust, the building’s congregation proceeded to have the education building roof and tower repaired, and continued to work with the architects. While this grant is truly a blessing, it is provided with a caveat…it must be matched dollar for dollar.
More good news… the building’s congregation and friends have already raised over 60% of the matching funds.
Would you like to see the analysis of the buildings and the initial plan prepared by historic architect Margaret Westfield and her associates?
How you can help
Please consider sending a tax deductible gift to
The First Reformed Church of New Brunswick —Preservation Project
and mail to:
The First Reformed Church of New Brunswick
9 Bayard Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
You can also donate right now by clicking the donate button below:
We are happy to send you a receipt. If you need more information about the Preservation of a Historic American Building: The First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, contact Pastor Hartmut at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-545-1005.