150 Years, A Reflection

In 2001, First Presbyterian Church of Cranford New Jersey celebrated it’s 150 year anniversary. George A. Weisgerber wrote a detailed historical narrative called “Reflecting On Our Sesquicentennial Year.”

The Beginning Era 1832-1851

An “Old Red Schoolhouse” that had been in existence before 1776 was the site for our first services, principally for children, the weekly “Sabbath School.” Each Sunday the adults walked or rode to Westfield Presbyterian Church, which was an established congregation.

January 24, 1850

Fifty persons led by Josiah Crane decided to erect a new church building to be located on land donated by Josiah Crane, on Alden Street, midway between Union Avenue and North Avenue on the west side of the street. Old Photo of Church

March 3, 1851

The congregation proudly met for the first time in the newly completed church. The seating capacity was about eighty to one hundred. The building cost was $2,500.

June 26, 1851

Formal organization of the church as The first Presbyterian Church of Cranesville. Twenty-two persons composed the church, all received by letter from the Westfield church.

January 12, 1867

Decision was made to build a still larger church. A plot at the corner of Springfield and North Union Avenues was purchased from John Grant Crane, older brother of Josiah. On August 17, 1868 a cornerstone was laid, and a dedication service was held on May 25, 1869. The building cost was $13,000. The Alden Street building was then moved and attached to the rear of the 1869 building to serve as a chapel. Even this space soon required enlargement, which was accomplished in 1889 with expansion of the adjoining chapel. Seating capacity became about three hundred.

March 10, 1893

It was decided to rebuild up to a seating of five hundred fifty. A call for funds yielded an immediate response of $14,200 and work started. The architect selected was Charles G. Jones of New York City and the building contract went to Diedrich Kreie of Cranford.

September 16, 1893

The cornerstone was laid for the new building.

June 19, 1894

The cost of the new church was about $30,820, including the building ($23,400), the windows, organ, pews, carpets and clock, and an enlargement of the chapel. Even though there was a financial panic in 1893, the mortgage indebtedness was paid off in a few years by the dedicated members.

Up to and Including Now

Other notable construction changes through the years have included:

  • 1951-Education Building for church School,
  • 1956-Fellowship Hall for large dinners and activities, and
  • 1968-Memorial Hall creating new functional spaces.

Meanwhile, our church has moved forward every year not only with physical improvements, but also-and most importantly-with enrichment of our worship services and outreach to the community, in Christ’s service.

For a more detailed history, see Reflecting On Our Sesquicentennial Year by George A. Weisgerber