authoritative source on
early churches of New Jersey
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the 18th & 19th century churches in the state and add to it each month.
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Colt's Neck Reformed Church
Colt's Neck, Monmouth County
Erected in 1856, this is one of the last of the Greek Revival churches
built to this plan in the state. The plan, with minor variations in
the steeple and pediment, was used by more than a dozen surviving
churches in New Jersey, mostly Reformed, and most located
in Somerset County. Ebeneezer Goltra of Long Branch was the
builder, which is interesting because James Goltra and his (unnamed)
son were builders, specializing in churches in Somerset for
several decades. That Goltra (James) built at least one church in
1851 identical to this. The surname is so uncommon that there is
surely a connection.
The steeple once was much taller, but, like many others in the
state, a victim of repeated lightning, it was shortened in 1900. The
in antis plan, with its recessed entry flanked by Ionic columns and
pilasters and a wide cornice appears initially in the state in 1839
in the First Presbyterian church in Trenton; this is the last such
building, Note the oculus (round window) in the pediment, which
was usually unadorned.
The church is located about five miles from Reformed churches
in Holmdel, Freehold, and Marlboro; five miles was considered a
bit too far to walk during the middle of the nineteenth century. Services
were initially held in the schoolhouse, and when the Sunday
School there prospered, the decision was made to build a church.
There was also an Independent Methodist church in the area, but
that was abandoned about the time this building was erected.