St. Luke’s Reformed Episcopal!

Saint Luke's, yo.

According to Gonczlik and Coddington (1998), St. Luke’s Reformed Episcopal Church in New Providence [website] was not built in New Providence. It was built in the Ohio Valley and brought here on a railroad flatcar in 1891!

St. Luke’s own website, however, makes no mention of this. According to them, the date of 1891 refers just to a small non-churchy-looking building (which may or may not have been prefabricated).

Totally snagged from St. Luke's website. Sorry, Higher Powers.

The bell tower, new sanctuary, and exterior remodeling (basically everything that makes a church look like a church) were all added later.

Here’s a photo of it after the bell tower was added but before it was painted white (or during a period when the white paint had gone to crap). I don’t know the date.

St. Luke's Episcopal, New Providence, date unknown

 

Reference:

Gonczlik, J. and Coddington, J. (1998). Images of America: New Providence. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738565210.

Saint Luke’s Reformed Episcopal Church. (2005). “About us.” http://www.stlukesrecnj.org/aboutus.htm.

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One Comment to “St. Luke’s Reformed Episcopal!”

  1. I love how you present your contemporary photo at the top, photographed near the same angle as the main historic photo, and then throw in an additional photo for the sake of it. Wonderful, like a crummy 3D puzzle: and I always feel like something is lacking–more pieces. This is a dignified modest Carpenter Gothic church. It wouldn’t be unusual for it to have originated as “modular,” as you put it. In the 1890s up until WWI, modular church structures for missions, gospel halls, and the like, were built in great numbers (the legacy of “tin churches” is more appreciated in the UK) so it would be interesting if this church is part of that legacy. The modular forms were often meant to be temporary “plants” until interest and funds could be raised to erect a more permanent structure. A number of such structures were built in New York City earlier in the 19th century (see “When Church Became Theatre” and “From Meetinghouse to Megachurch” for further information). Comparing the two towered church photos, your contemporary photo shows that a two-bay two-storey hall addition was added to the church nave’s final bay (most likely eastern bay since this is Episcopal). The nearby square-headed nave window has been replaced (and lost it’s Victorian surround) but otherwise remained similar in character. Same too with the nave gable, which retained it’s VERY modest apex finial gingerbread, apex pointed-arched window and main pointed-arched stained-glass window. Lost in the residing, however, were the two diminutive pointed-arched 1/1 sashes, lopsidedly lighting the space between the main window and the tower vestibule. Surely they lit the main nave worship space and not a closet, but why only on one side? Does this actually mean there was an office, closet, or enlarged vestibule there. No architect would have slipped that into his exterior composition without interior necessity. Today, that necessity is no more. So just like the exterior had a bit of a make over, the interior had something done to it: something that simplified and removed an internal order. Or perhaps not and that new-fangled electric light-bulb claimed another window’s job. I would love to say (mostly because no one’s listening by this point) that your centre (and oldest) photo had no relation to the other two but that simple rectangle-on-plan church nave has the same two triangle-gablet ventilation dormers on both pitches of the roof. Now blocked but still there. The centre photo has a return that if the photo was taken from the west, the return would be on the sunnier south elevation at the east end. It’s small, has a penticed porch facing west, and–most telling–a tall brick chimneystack. This was the vestry/sacristy (whatever your denomination calls it, the former if Episcopal). Is it still there–and used for its original purpose? If this is the same structure as the present church, and probably it is, than that vestry was almost certainly still there when the decision was made to attach the hall to the north, instead of south, elevation. Again, with three puzzle pieces, look at what you’ve built. Snoop around, find a few more, and build the whole history, why don’t you? On another note, if this was a rural plant church/mission, St. Luke is an appropriate dedication–and common one. St. Luke’s Episcopal in Greenwich Village was the rural plant of Trinity Church, Wall Street, one used by downtown resident’s fleeing the summer fevers. St. Luke is appropriate there because of his medical affiliations.

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