Image by Tucker Good

A New Bell, A New Building

1805-1900

 

1805

The cornerstone for the new church was laid on April 15

1806

The new church is dedicated on August 17.

 

The building was made of brick, size 48 ft. by 60 ft., with a tower in front with a 4 ft. by 10 ft. cupola in which a bell and clock were reused from the first church.

 

The cost of the building was $10,820. The interior contained 72 pews on the main floor, 36 pews in the gallery; 46 pews rented for $12.00 per year; 18 larger pews rented for $14.00 per year; gallery free, with one side reserved for colored persons. New Jersey Governor Joseph Bloomfield lived in Trenton during his term and was offered the first choice of a pew in the new church. The church was the largest building in Trenton and was used for public purposes such as Fourth of July celebrations and temperance meetings.

As of October, the Pastor serves only the Trenton church. Prior to this, the pastors split their time between “the Country Church” in Ewing and Maidenhead Church in Lawrenceville.

1807

A new bell is hung in the steeple.

A Trenton newspaper reports: “On Saturday the twentieth instant, was hung in the steeple of the new Presbyterian Church in Trenton, a new bell, weighing four hundred and seventy eight pounds, cast by George Hedderly, a bell founder and bellhanger of the City of Philadelphia, which does its founder credit, both for neatness of its casting and its melodious tone.” The inscription band on the bell reads, “GEO HEDDERLY OF PHILADELPHIA CAST ME IN THE YEAR 1807.”

1813

“The Union Fire Company of Trenton agreed to pay $1 to the person who should first ring the Presbyterian and State House bells for alarm of fire.”

1817

President James Monroe attended services at the church.

1824

General Lafayette attended services during his visit to Trenton.

1828

Second church is struck by lightning.

1836

The congregation began considering plans to build a third church. The existing building had been struck by lightning, had fallen into disrepair and, despite its size, could no longer accommodate the size of the congregation.

Reverend Yeomans recounted that “[t]he congregation felt the awakening enterprise of their venerable city, and the moment the business of the place show[ed] signs of revival they were ready to conduct the motion into their measures for religious improvement. (McLeod & McLeod, The Word into the World: A Bicentennial Record of Ministry, 1977, p. 108).

1838

Subscriptions of more than $10,000 were taken by members on December 10 as they voted to build a new church.

1839

The following appeared in newspapers – “Notice to Builders”for proposals for the erections of the new church – signed by Messrs. Fish, T. J. Stryker, Armitage Green, C Blackfan, J. S. Scudder, and S. Evans.

Messr. Hotchkiss & Thompson of New Haven, Connecticut were selected as builders of the church and  Horatio Nelson Hotchkiss of New Haven, Connecticut signed the building contract as architect. The building contract was also signed by Pastor John W. Yeomans, Trenton Mayor Charles Burroughs, New Jersey Governor William Pennington and United States President Martin Van Buren.

The Cornerstone of the church was laid on May 2.

1840

To best utilize the space, the new church was constructed in the center of the lot. Graves were disrupted, tombstones were adapted as exterior tiles, and a plaque was installed noting the names of those whose tombs were razed.

The new church building, located in the middle of the church yard, occupying the site of the old Trenton Academy, was dedicated on January 19.

The building is 104 ft long, 62 ft. wide, with a steeple soaring to 120 ft. The total cost of the building was $16,400.00 without furnishing or organ. The native brownstone base of the church incorporated materials from the base of the second church. Holbrook & Ware of Massachusetts constructed a large organ specifically for the church. The total cost of the church, which seats 900, with furnishings and organ – $21,000.00. Part of this cost was subsidized by the reuse of materials from the first two churches.

The building is in the Greek Revival style with a pedimented temple front highlighted by two 26-foot Ionic columns made of poured concrete flanked by Doric pilasters. The base, as noted above, is of native brownstone, above which are walls of brick with a heavy coating of plaster. No steel was used in the structure of the building, all supporting beams are of wood.

The church had an 120 foot octagonal steeple. The 1807 bell cast for the second church was moved to this one.

 

Exterior

The main entrance to the church is a dramatic Greek Revival door surround framing a pair of wooden double doors topped by two ranges of panels with matching detailing. The lock was also reused from the second church.

Door of church

The west and east elevations of the church feature two stories of four bays each. the windows of the sanctuary feature triple-hung 24-pane sashes. The lower story has 12 over 12 double-hung sashes.

 

The sanctuary consists of a rectangular nave with a central aisle flanked by wooden pews and side aisles. At the foot of the nave’s main aisle is the original baptismal font of carved white marble. At the head of the main aisle is the communion table below the main pulpit in the historic Presbyterian tradition.   The pulpit and entire front of the church is a repetition of the front of the exterior of the building featuring two great columns with flanking pilasters. These columns are made of wood and have very ornate capitals of Corinthian design, finely carved and covered in gold leaf.

Column capital

 

The pulpit is accentuated by contrasting white and gold.

An entablature of several feet in width runs around the entire wall of the Sanctuary at the joining of the ceiling and the wall. Over the pulpit, it is interrupted by the introduction of dentils.

In the rear of the sanctuary is a gallery, reached by stairs at each corner. The gallery is supported by four fluted columns of Ionic style. The organ is located in the gallery.

Organ

1852

Daniel Webster attended services at the church.

1863

Cemetery fence installed. “The front of the church was greatly improved by building an iron fence and laying a stone walk along the entire front of the property.”

 

Cast iron fence

Gas was installed for lighting the interior.

Interior walls were painted and other repairs made. Total cost of renovations – $3,400. The congregation worshiped at the Third Presbyterian Church while the renovations were completed.

1870

The church was totally renovated. The style of the pews was changed to Jersey pine with a trim of highly polished stained oak. The walls were frescoed. A small room at the back of the pulpit was added. The organ of 1840 was replaced by a larger one built by Erben of New York City.