Trenton Spotlight
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FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

  • 120 East State Street
  • Trenton, NJ 08608
  • Artwork Creator: Nelson Hotchkiss, designer
  • Hours: 8am-5pm, M-F; self-guided tours of first floor paintings, sanctuary, and cemetery on weekends by appointment
  • Access: Open to public
  • Image Source: View Image Source
  • Sponsor/Project: n/a
  • Project Date: 1839

“The beginnings of the First Presbyterian Church date to 1712, but it was not until 1726 that a small church of native stone was built on the southwest corner of the present church lot. On September 8, 1756, First Presbyterian was incorporated under a charter from King George II . . . During the Revolution the church was damaged, many of its records were lost or destroyed, and the manse was occupied as a Hessian hospital. Following the Battle of Trenton, the Hessian commander, Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall, was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard, along with a number of his soldiers. John Adams attended services on September 20, 1777, and on October 27, 1781. The first news of the surrender at Yorktown was celebrated and services were attended by the governor and legislature . . . The Old Stone church was taken down in 1805 to make room for a brick church, dedicated on august 17, 1806. President James Monroe attended services in that church on June 8, 1817, and General Lafayette worshipped there on September 26, 1824 . . . In 1839, when plans were made to erect the present church, its site was moved to the center of the property, facing East State Street. All salvageable materials from the earlier church were used in the new Greek revival-style building, including the base of Jersey sandstone. The walls above it are brick, stuccoed on the exterior and plastered inside.” – A Capital Place: The Story of Trenton

“The congregation was founded in 1712, and this fine building was erected in 1839 on State Street . . . It was designed by an architect from New Haven, Connecticut, Nelson Hotchkiss . . . This is the largest Greek Revival church in the state . . . There are a number of important people buried in the two flanking burial grounds (as well as under the parking lots and under the church); the most prominent of whom is probably Colonel Johann Rall, commander of the German troops stationed in Trenton and killed in the battle of Trenton in December 1776. Presidents John Adams and James Monroe attended services here, as did the Marquis de Lafayette and Daniel Webster.” – The New Jersey Churchscape

“Buried here are some of the earliest Trentonians, as well as the approximately 150 Hessians who died at the First Battle of Trenton.” – Downtown Trenton Artwalk

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