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Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Urban Development

Chapter 3
Maritime Activity

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Appendix 1
Patterned Brick Houses

Appendix 2
Stack Houses

Appendix 3
Existing Documentation


Historic Themes and Resources within the
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
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RELIGION (continued)


The Methodists organized in Salem County in the late eighteenth century, though by the late nineteenth century their numbers proliferated beyond all other religious groups. In 1772 Benjamin Abbott of Pittsgrove Township, a religious skeptic and acknowledged drinker, had a dream that converted him into a fire-and-brimstone evangelist who succeeded in uniting Methodists in Salem and inspiring others as far away as the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After his conversion, Abbott worked with John Murphy, a neighbor, to put together a Methodist congregation in Pittsgrove Township. Murphy opened his home to Methodist itinerants and soon the first Methodist Society in Salem County commenced worshipping. A church was built on Murphy's land shortly thereafter.

In 1774, Abbott moved to Mannington Township and helped Daniel Ruff, an itinerant preacher, to introduce Methodism to Salem. Abbott's congregation held its meetings in a barn-like building until 1784 when several Quakers financed the construction of a church on Walnut Street in Salem. By 1826 the number of Methodists in Salem had grown so rapidly that the church on Walnut Street could no longer accommodate them. As a result, the congregation built and dedicated a new church in 1838. Twenty years later, part of the congregation split and built yet another new church on Broadway. The Broadway United Methodist Church is extant today. [20]

Methodism soon spread beyond Salem into Quinton's Bridge and Lower Penn's Neck. It also spread into many parts of Cumberland County. As early as 1800, a Methodist Society was present in Newport. The society was organized by a Captain Webb and meetings were held in the sail loft of Jonathan Sockwell's barn. In 1814 the barn was remodeled into a church, which burned down seven years later. An intermediate structure was utilized until 1852 when the present structure was built on property bought from Sheppard Robbins. [21]

In 1804 Methodists in Bridgeton were organized under the leadership of William Brooks; three years later Jeremiah Buck donated a lot on Commerce Street for the first Methodist church. Two years after the formation of the Methodist Society in Bridgeton, one was formed in Leesburg. After meeting in private homes for five years, the society was incorporated and a new church built. Branches were formed off the Leesburg church in 1856 when the membership became too large. As a result, the members from Dorchester formed their own society and built a new church in 1863. [22]

The Mauricetown and Haleyville Methodist Episcopal societies formed in the early nineteenth century and were served by the same pastors until 1881. The exact date of the first church in Haleyville is unknown, but the existing church was built in 1864. In 1841 the first Methodist church was built in Mauricetown. Its congregation used the church until 1880 when it was moved to a new site, turned into the town hall, and replaced by a new building. The congregation dedicated several of the stained-glass windows in the new church to the men who lost their lives at sea. [23]

Millville's first Methodist Society was organized in 1807 when the Cumberland circuit was set off from the Salem circuit. In 1824 Trinity Methodist Church, located on Second and Smith streets, commenced holding services. Forty-two years later, a portion of the congregation constructed a new building on Second and Pine streets; this is the First Methodist Church. Today the Methodists of Millville are served by seven different churches. [24]

Methodists organized in Cedarville before 1820 held meetings in the local wheelwright shop. The present church was built in 1863. Dividing Creek and Port Norris did not have a Methodist society until the mid to late nineteenth century. The Methodists in Dividing Creek organized in the 1840s but shared a preacher with the Newport Methodist Church. The Port Norris congregation organized in 1871 only after breaking away from the Haleyville church. [25]

Among the nineteenth-century gable-front churches are three constructed of brick: the Broadway Methodist Church (1858) and Mt. Pisgah AME Church (1878) in Salem, and Cedarville Methodist Church (1868, Fig. 112). Broadway Methodist is very stylized, with round-arched windows, brick pilasters, a formal frame pediment with dentils, and a rusticated door on the main facade. Broadway Methodist was surely the model for the third structure, Mt. Pisgah AME, built twenty years later.

Cedarville Methodist Church
Figure 112. Cedarville Methodist Church. The two-story gable-front frame block is three bays by four bays, with a deep pediment and decorative cornerboard pilasters.

Frame variations include the Haleyville Methodist Church (1864), the Trinity [United] Methodist Church (1870) in South Dennis, the Dennisville United Methodist Church (1870), and the Dias Creek United Methodist Church (ca. 1870). Each has a three-bay gable-front facade, and is three or four bays deep, with twelve-over-twelve-over-twelve-light wood sash and tall louvered shutters. Their Greek Revival foundation of prominent pediment with full cornice or broken returns, pilaster cornerboards, and classical door surround is blended with late nineteenth-century Victorian details such as bracketing. Most have pent roofs on the gable end; all except the Haleyville church boast a gable-end steeple. At the South Dennis and Dennisville churches these rest at the fore of the gable front on a square base, with a squat roof and lean spire, respectively.

The third church type is later and more elaborate than its predecessors, with an irregular plan, profile, and abundant texture—typical of the late nineteenth-century Queen Anne, Romanesque and Gothic Revivals. Salem boasts the oldest examples, in St. John's Episcopal Church (1811) and the First Presbyterian Church (1856). St. John's is constructed of granite and has many Gothic details, such as pointed-arch windows and a steeply pitched roof. Goshen Methodist Church (ca. 1870, Fig. 113), Newport Methodist Church (1852), and Dividing Creek Methodist Church (ca. 1850-60) illustrate this form in frame: the tower at the inside of the L features the main doorway, an exposed belfry, and four-sided roof. With their colorful round- and pointed-arch stained-glass windows a sharp contrast to the white exteriors, these cheerful and delicate buildings were erected by the abundant Methodist congregations in the 1870s-90s.

Goshen Methodist Church
Figure 113. Goshen Methodist Church (ca. 1870). This church is an example of the irregular Victorian plan and abundant architectural texture. Leach.

African Methodist Episcopal (AME)

The first African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Jersey was formed in Salem in 1800. Several upstanding members of Salem's black community, Reuben Cuff, Chauncey Moore, and Cuffie Miller, purchased the land for their church. Worship services commenced in 1802, though the church was unfinished. Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church burned in 1839 and the present edifice was built in 1878 with a datestone inscribed: "Built 1878 - Mt. Pisgah AME Church - For the people had a mind to work" (Fig. 114). The Mt. Pisgah congregation was one of the first five African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches in the nation. Moreover, Reuben Cuff was one of the original sixteen founders of the AME conference in Philadelphia in 1816. [26] By the end of the nineteenth century AME churches could be found in Quinton, Mannington, and Pilesgrove townships.

Mt. Pisgah AME Church
Figure 114. Mt. Pisgah AME Church is a two-story, three-bay brick block with a gable-front, deep pediment, and stained-glass windows.

Other AME churches opened their doors to worshippers in the early and mid nineteenth century in Cumberland and Cape May counties. An AME congregation was organized in Gouldtown, an early black settlement, by Reverend Jeremiah Miller in 1818. The first meetings were held in different homes, with the Quarterly Conference congregating in the barn of Furman Gould. The first church was built in 1825, a second one in 1836. In Cumberland County the AME churches are found in Bridgeton in 1854, established by Reverend Caleb Woodyard; in Haleyville in 1882, by Reverend E.P. Grinage; in Millville by Reverend W.M. Watson; in Port Elizabeth in 1836 by Noah Cannon; and in Springtown in 1817, with Clayton Durham as the first pastor. Cape May County's AME churches included one at Cape May Point, founded in 1883 by Reverend G.T. Waters; another at Cold Spring prior to 1841, and another in Cape May prior to 1843. [27] Today, AME churches and several Baptist churches exist in South Jersey. Among them are Bethel AME in Port Norris and Mt. Pisgah AME in Salem.

Other Denominations

Among other eighteenth-century religious establishments in the area were smaller numbers of Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics. In 1724 Reverend John Holbrooke, a missionary for the Church of England, arrived in Salem and organized—and eventually saw to the construction of—St. John's Episcopal Church. Holbrooke served its congregation and others in the area. During the Revolutionary War, the British seized the church to use as a headquarters, and after their departure it remained in disrepair until the 1800s. The Episcopalians also built a church in 1729 that exists in Othello. [28]

In the mid eighteenth century, the first Roman Catholics and German Lutherans appeared in Salem County. The members of these two organizations worked for Casper Wistar in his glass factory near Alloway. The Lutherans established a church at Friesburg in Alloway Township in 1748. The Catholics arrived ten years previous to the Lutherans, however, they did not establish a church until 1852. Until the Revolutionary War Catholics were often restricted from worshiping openly. [29]

Description of Additional Historic Resources

Greenwich Meeting House (1779, HABS No. NJ-441). Two bays deep and six bays long, the front facade is laid in Flemish bond and other walls in a five-course common bond. Built in two sections, this building provides separate entries for men and women; internally, following tradition, the sexes are seated separately. Each entrance is adorned with a pediment and simple porch supports. As with all meeting houses, the womens' entrance has a saddle door several feet high, which allowed them to access the carriage without touching the ground. First-floor fenestration is twelve-over-twelve-light double-hung sash, with elliptical arch-topped piercings on the men's side; second-story windows are six-over-six-light wood sash. All windows have paneled shutters; there are two interior gable-end chimneys and the roof is covered with cedar shingles.

Old Stone Church/Fairton Presbyterian Church (1780, HABS No. NJ-273). Built of dark, local sandstone, the gable ends are laid up in rubble while the more important side facades are coursed; the corners feature stone quoins. The windows contain nine-over-nine-light sash, the first floor with panelled shutters, and there are two double-door entrances. This church and its cemetery are surrounded by a later, elaborate Victorian-era cast-iron fence. [30]

Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church, Bridgeton (1792). Blends high-style Georgian features with the local tradition. Here, the Flemish-bond structure is five bays on the long east and west facades, three on the gable ends; a beltcourse and watertable are also articulated. The windows have very formal arched openings atop twelve-over-twelve-light wood sash, the doorway features a pedimented surround, and the roof pediment is pronounced.

Dias Creek Church (ca. 1880), Dias Creek. This structure is relatively unique in that it features a vestibule whose form mimics the main block; its center steeple rises from a canted base over the vestibule, to a secondary roof, open belfry, and last a polygonal spire.

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Last Modified: Mon, Mar 14 2005 10:00:00 pm PDT

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