O is for Our Lady of Peace

the "Church in the Round"

Our Lady of Peace is the Catholic church in New Providence. The congregation was founded in February 1919, from parishioners of St. Teresa’s (Summit) and St. Mary’s (Berkeley Heights) who had gotten sick of traveling so far (by foot, or by buggy) every week.

The congregation initially met in the Borough Hall’s upper room for about year, until the lot next door was purchased and Our Lady of Peace’s first church was completed in December 1919. Its small interior could seat 162 people in total.

Our Lady of Peace, original building, New Providence, 1919-1955

(This is the original 1919 church.)

Unsurprisingly, the church was horribly overcrowded by 1950, even with five Masses every Sunday.

To resolve this, in 1954, Our Lady of Peace moved down the street, temporarily held Masses in a 500-seat “basement church,” and made plans to build a permanent church. However, between 1950 and 1960, New Providence’s population tripled, which nobody had really planned for. Just three years later, in 1957, even the large basement church was so overcrowded that it needed to hold seven Sunday Masses to accommodate everyone.

While finalizing the plans for a permanent church, an “interim”/”multi-purpose” church was built and first used in 1961.

(All of these not-churches that were being built were apparently within the plans; the site was eventually intended to become a large campus for the church, school, and convent of ten nuns, so the basement and multi-purpose room were buildings that they would’ve been constructing anyway.)

The new church was designed in 1964:

Architect [Edward W.] Fanning laid out dozens of schemes, made scores of sketches and complete redesigns before one of them met Father Kelly’s requirements [i.e. “modern, up-to-date,” and large enough for the growing population] and the essential principles for church design established by Vatican II.

Finally, in 1965, they broke ground for the new construction. The church was finished and its first Mass was held in 1966.



Gonczlik, J. & Coddington, J. (1998). Images of America: New Providence. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC.

Our Lady of Peace Parish. (2010). Parish history. Available http://olpnp.com/59-2/parish-history/

Orleans, F.W. (1977). Church of Our Lady of Peace. Custombook, Inc.: South Hackensack, NJ.


5 Responses to “O is for Our Lady of Peace”

  1. A good example of a round post-Vatican II church. The most cited examples are the cathedrals in Liverpool, Clifton (both England), and Brasilia.


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