Click here to return to the Jersey City: Past and Present Home Page Click here to return to the list of website time periods. Click here to return to the alphabetized list of website entries.

The First Presbyterian Church of Jersey City
Northeast Corner of Washington and Sussex Street
Paulus Hook

 

Lithograph detail from the 1850 Dripps Map of Jersey City depicting the First Presbyterian Church of Jersey City
View looking northeast from the intersection of Sussex and Washington Streets
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Lithograph of the First Presbyterian Church of Jersey City
View looking southeast from the middle of Washington Square Park
Source: Ballou's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, 1855

Detail of the 1850 Dripps Map of Jersey City showing the location of the Presbyterian Church in the lower right adjacent to the
Washington Square Park
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Site of the First Presbyterian Church of Jersey City
Northeast corner of Sussex and Washington Streets
Photo: A. Selvaggio, 2002

The First Presbyterian Church building was assembled in Jersey City in 1844 after its removal from a site on Wall Street in New York City. The Presbyterian congregation in Jersey City dates back to 1809. Member gathered for services at the Jersey Academy and formed a church in 1825.

The transference of the brownstone church building from New York to Jersey City met the needs of two congregations on either side of the Hudson River. The Presbyterian Church in New York, which dates back to 1716, wished to relocate from its property on Wall Street to a new structure on Firth Avenue and Twelfth Street, and use the proceeds from the sale of the property, which brought $148,000, to build the new church. The Jersey City congregation desired a building of its own. Negotiations between the two proceeded and were completed by the presidents of the two church boards of trustees on July 10, 1844. The sale of the building was set at $3000 and included "iron railing, stone wall, coping, flagging, fixtures of the church, stoves, cushions, lamps, chandeliers, and carpets" (Heck). Former Jersey City Mayor Dudley S. Gregory and local manufacturer David Henderson, both church trustees, assisted with the financing of the sale.

The first site in Jersey City selected to receive the building was that facing Sussex Street on two lots that had been set aside for church construction by the Associates of the Jersey Company, plus one lot each donated by trustees Gregory and Henderson. Later a decision was made to place the church building on Washington Street, on a site 100 feet by 100 feet, where Gregory and Dudley owned four lots (Nos. 41, 43, 45 and 47) adjacent to a public square. This required an exchange of the two lots (Nos. 27 and 29) on Sussex Street that the trustees also owned.

The removal of the church building took place between July and September 1844. A builder Richard Bumsted of Jersey City arranged with the local ferry company to dismantle, mark, and cart the stones. Andrew Clark, Esq., an architect and member of the congregation, supervised the project of rebuilding the church. It was to be set on a newly constructed basement, which it did not have on the New York City site. A Jersey City mason, William Bumsted, and a carpenter, John M. Trimble of New York, were also hired for the project. A clock placed in the original steeple was the only alteration to the exterior of the building.

The total cost for the shipment and reconstruction of the church, excluding the basement, was $13,394. At a ceremony on September 30, 1844, a new cornerstone was placed in the building. It contained a wide-mouth jar made at the American Pottery Company, which Henderson owned. In the jar were placed newspapers, periodicals and coins to commemorate the event. The following spring, on Sunday May 25, 1845, the church was dedicated and officially opened to the community. According to an unpublished paper by John W. Heck, the photoprints made by Mr. W.R. Harrison "practically reproduces the looks of the church as it stood on Wall Street."

The church building no longer exists. According to Heck, the church was sold to George R. Mc Kenzie on June 20, 1888, for $19,000, "the building was taken down and the 'Kingussie Flats' erected upon the site by the owner. The church members and their organization became united with the Presbyterian Church in the Bergen section of the City. . . ."

Today the site is a vacant lot.

 

References:

Heck, John W. Paper on the "First Presbyterian Church of Jersey City," January 23, 1923, n.pag. Jersey City Free Public Library.
Imbrie,Charles K.,ed. History of the First Presbyterian Church of Jersey City, New Jersey. New York: Anson D.F. Randolph & Company, 1888.

 

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub