The History of Methodism in Princeton
In the latter half of the 18th century, circuit-riding Methodist ministers made sporadic visits to meet and worship with small groups in private Princeton homes. From one such group, a Methodist class was formed in 1841 or 1842, meeting in an Alexander Street home. By 1847, a congregation was formed, and the Princeton Methodist Episcopal Church was established. The first church to be built for the new congregation was located on Nassau Street but not on the corner of Vandeventer Avenue. Dr. Bartine, a physician and a member of the Church, had his home and business in the house on the corner. Eventually Dr. Bartine’s property was purchased and donated to the church by Mr. M. Taylor Pyne.The growth of the congregation necessitated razing the original church structure in April 1910, and erecting our present building, with its magnificent stained glass windows, on an expanded site. Further growth resulted in the addition of our education wing in 1959, when the existing Sunday School rooms and the sanctuary were renovated. Changes were made to make the building more accessible to the physically handicapped, including ramp entrance in the front and a lift at the back entrance to the parking lot to help with wheelchairs. During the 1990s, the sanctuary was again renovated and a new organ, consisting of 2,775 pipes, was installed.In 1997 the church celebrated the sesquicentennial anniversary. In the following years, a second floor was added to the Education Building which improved the offices, added classrooms for the Church School and resulted in restrooms on the second floor which are more convenient to the Sanctuary.
- 1847: The church is organized and Joseph Ashbrook is appointed pastor.
- Nov. 30, 1848: Trustees took oath before Justice of Peace & accepted property deed.
- Oct. 1, 1849: Dedication of original building.
- April 3, 1910: Last service in original building.
- April 20, 1910: Original building razed.
- April 10 – Dec 4, 1910: Services held in temporary plank chapel on Vandeventer Ave.
- June 18, 1910: Cornerstone laid for present building.
- Dec. 11, 1910: Services held for first time in basement of new building.
- Oct. 11, 1911: Present sanctuary building dedicated.
- Nov. 9, 1958: Cornerstone laid for education building.
- Jan. 18, 1959: Classes meet for first time in education building.
- Date Unknown: New ramp at front entrance and lift in back installed
- Oct. 12, 1997: Model for new addition to education building unveiled.
- June 2002: Renovations to the Education Wing dedicated
You are invited to go to the pages below to view:
- Archival Photos of the first church building and the newly constructed second building which was dedicated in 1910.
- Photographs of the stained glass windows in our current building.
Church Tower Carillons
The Carillons are an ongoing contribution to our church presence in the borough of Princeton. Many may not be aware that the electronic “Carillons” were a memorial given to the church in 1997 by Beverly and Roger Y. During the years, the system has seen good and bad times primarily as a result of the complexity of programming and playing the device. Now, as a result of an upgrade to a digital format, the system is much easier to program and has improved sound quality. The upgrade was possible as the result of the foresight of our Trustees and Memorial Committee who, many years ago, established a Memorial Maintenance Fund
If you are in town around noon or 5 PM during the week, you will hear its beautiful sound from your church tower. On Sundays, a hymn is played at 10:45 AM and 12:15 PM. During the week, the system is programmed to announce the time with “clock strikes” at noon and 5 PM and then play a hymn appropriate to our church seasons. There are hymns for Lent, currently playing, Easter, Advent, and Christmas. At other times, the system will play from a selection of over 300 traditional, Methodist, or Gospels hymns.
Many in the Community have expressed their thanks for this meaningful addition to their day in Princeton. We should all be so proud of our “little stone church on the corner with the beautiful chimes”.