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  early churches of New Jersey

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St. Michael's [Episcopal] Church
Trenton, Mercer County

Founded by 1703, St Michael's began as a congregation open to all Protestant denominations a little north of Trenton in what was known as Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville) . Some time between 1703 and 1748, according to a church summary of its history, the original St. Michael's Church was built in Trenton at the present location at Warren and Perry Streets. Several accounts claim the present early Gothic facade was built by 1753, but the church's summary lays that canard to rest, saying the original building was significantly rebuilt and enlarged in 1819. The main church, which had fronted on Perry Street, was "extended towards Warren Street and a columned entrance façade was added. The church was extended further over the next fifty years until it reached its current dimensions and shape in 1870, when the nave was extended for the last time and the Warren Street towers, the current recessed chancel and the north transept were added." The crenellated towers were designed to honor of the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose residence, Lambeth Palace in London, sports a very similar façade. Fantasy Gothic is the term usually applied to this style.
     So, there was a church on the site by 1753, but it was not particularly noteworthy, according to the accounts of travelers to the area. That earliest church was entirely rebuilt in 1819, repaired and extended in 1843, 1853 and 1862, and the building that we see from the street today was essentially shaped in the modifications done in 1870.
     St. Michael's has sponsored several mission congregations, including one near the prison which became St. Paul's and a chapel at North Clinton Avenue.
     Thanks to Reverend John Connors of St. Michael's for the very complete briefing which he provided—information which corrects errors in several published sources. For an extended history of the early church, see Hamilton Schuyler, A History of St. Michael's Church. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1926.




Copyright (c) 2004 Frank L. Greenagel