1712 Congregation founded in Hopewell, NJ
The first church
1726 Old Stone Church erected at the southwest intersection which is now known as Broad and State Streets
The building, made of native stone, stood nearly 80 years. The interior was typical of early American churches of the period: a pulpit at the north end; galleries on the front and two sides with stairs to the gallery at the front corners; pews were straight with no cushions and the woodwork was unpainted.
1753 Trenton Academy established and building built on current site of the church
The building is described as being a one story brick building 30 ft. by 30 ft.
1776-1777 Hessians use the building during their occupation of the city.
1777 John Adams attends services at the Church.
1781 A celebration after the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis was held at the Church in Trenton with the governor, Assembly and many Trenton citizens in attendance.
1804 “The Old Stone Church” was taken down to make room for its successor.
The record states: “the Old Stone Church is in so ruinous a state that it can no longer continue to accommodate those that wish to worship her in a ‘comfortable manner.’”
The Second Church
1805 15 April Cornerstone for the new church is laid
1806 17 August The new church is dedicated
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 was hung a bell and a clock. 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.
1807 29 July
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 Third (current) Church
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. (John Raum, History of the City of Trenton, New Jersey, 1871, p. 105.)
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 10 December
Subscriptions of more than $10,000 are taken by members as they voted to build a new church.
1839 18 January
Notice to Builders
Newspaper – “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.
1849 2 May The Cornerstone of the church was laid.
1840 19 January
New building dedicated
The new church building, located in the middle of the church yard, occupying the site of the old Trenton Academy, is dedicated.
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. As much material from the previous building was used in the new construction. Note the native brownstone base of the church – these were materials from the base of the 1806 structure. 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.
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 reused from the second 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.
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.
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”
Gas was installed for lighting the interior.
Interior walls were painted and other repairs made. Total cost of renovations – $3,400. The congregation worshipped at the Third Presbyterian Church while the renovations were completed.
1870 Church Renovated
The church is 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.
1902 Sunday School and meeting rooms on the first floor are renovated.
1950 Fellowship Hall erected
1954 Top portion of the Steeple removed after it was damaged in a hurricane.
1956 Pastor’s Office erected
1959 Purchase of 109 and 121 E. Hanover Street
1960 Purchase and renovation of 117 E. Hanover Street
1964 Purchase of 111 and 113 E. Hanover Street
Installation of new spire atop the steeple
1969 Purchase of 123 E. Hanover Street
1972 Purchase of 115 E. Hanover Street
1973 Installation of new organ built by Turner and Associates of Hopewell
1984 Renovation of exterior by Charles I. Newman, a specialist in the preservation of masonry. Loose paint was removed, wire mesh reinforcing was installed, Sonneborn Super Colorcoat was added, the brownstone was cleaned, mortar joints were rejoined and the entrance steps were realigned.
1992 Renovations to 111, 113, and 115 for use by the Trenton Academy.
2016 A mural, “After the Crossing” by Ilia Barger of Lambertville was installed on the parking lot side of the church near Hanover Street. The mural was commissioned by the Trenton Downtown Association in conjunction with the Church.
2017 The ringing mechanism of the 1807 bell was repaired and the bell is heard again in Trenton after an absence of at least 30 years. See a powerpoint about the history of the bell. See the Jersey Matters TV piece on the bell.