This month, the West Trenton Presbyterian Church celebrates its 100th anniversary. Ewing resident, church member and local history fan Randall Marsola offers this timeline detailing the church’s history:
In the 1700s and 1800s, the hamlet of West Trenton was known as Birmingham. George Washington’s troops passed through its crossroads on their way to the famous Battle of Trenton, the turning point of the Revolutionary War.
WTPC was originally formed around 1845 as the Birmingham Sunday School, established by the First Presbyterian Church of Ewing (on Scotch Road) and under the guidance of its pastor, the Reverend Eli F. Cooley.
The “satellite” Birmingham Sunday School was convenient for many. In 1881, the Trenton Junction train station was built on the Reading Railroad spur to Trenton, a quarter mile from the present day church.
When Birmingham changed its name to Trenton Junction in 1882, the Sunday School did too. As the village grew, the old Ewing Grange Hall #73 on New Street was purchased in 1906, to accommodate larger numbers attending lessons and worship.
On Sept. 30, 1917 a meeting was held to organize a community church. During that meeting, Isaac F. Richey, a prominent Trenton banker, donated two lots bordering the Grange Hall. On Feb. 28, 191, the Trenton Junction Sunday School officially incorporated and formed the Trenton Junction Community Church, with 42 people signing on as charter members. The 100-year-old original signed charter still exists as a special remembrance.
While the charter officially established the Trenton Junction Community Church, worship continued to be held in Grange Hall. The church was growing, and needed a larger building with a proper sanctuary and church bell.
In the 1920s, discussion of building a chapel began, but there were financial concerns. The Ladies Aid Society organized to raise funds for the new church. It’s interesting to note that the societal norms of the day excluded women from serving on the governing boards, so these women took action by fundraising.
The society’s bylaws read, “No funds shall be raised from worldly amusements, such as card playing or dancing.” They held traditional “Ham and Sauerkraut” and “Oyster” suppers. Fundraising was slow but steady.
Finally in 1930, despite the Depression, plans were underway to build a new church. The architect’s plans specified that, “The chapel, in the modified Norman style of architecture, will be built of stone and with cast stone trim. It will present a charming example of an English village church” (Church brochure, April, 1931).
The original cost of the building would have been $24,000, but the stone cast trim option was eliminated bringing the final cost to $18,000.
Imagine! An entire stone church complete with bell tower was constructed for less than $20,000. Construction began, and the church’s beautiful brownstone was cut from the DeFlesco-Loveday Quarry on Wilburtha Road. The cornerstone for the new church was laid in 1931, and the official dedication was on Oct. 16, 1932 when it was renamed the West Trenton Presbyterian Church.
WTPC is 100 years old, but the church still has the same ideals and tenets that were at the core of its original mission. We are a small, close-knit congregation committed to serving our parishioners and our community. Our members serve as Elders and Deacons, and are active on committees such as the Ladies Society (now called the Circle of Love), and an outreach group which works with Homefront, Meals on Wheels and the Children’s Home Society.
Worship is held Sundays at 10:30 am, and Sunday School for kids from three years old through high school meets from September to June. The church has a praise band that plays contemporary Christian music. Boy Scout Troop 33 and other organizations also meet in Fellowship Hall.
We’re pleased to be celebrating 100 years of incorporation, and even longer nestled in West Trenton. Come check us out! Congratulations and Happy Birthday to WTPC and to all its members!