History

January 24, 1866, a group of people met to petition the Classis of Raritan to organize a Reformed Church in High Bridge. The petition, copied from the early records, reads as follows: “We the undersigned in the vicinity of High Bridge petition the Classis of Raritan to be organized into a Reformed Church for the following reasons: The field has been occupied and cultivated by this denomination for the last twenty-five years. This denomination has the largest number of families and communicants living in and around the place. The building is conveniently located from three to five miles from surrounding churches. It is located in a healthy and fertile region of the country with immense water power for mills and factories. Many families have no easy access to other churches.” This petition was signed by thirty families. At this meeting, two elders and two deacons were elected to represent the organization and become the ruling body. Although the thirty families appeared on the petition to the classis, only eight persons brought their letters from other churches and became charter members when the church was first organized. Additional members were soon received into the new congregation, however, and a year later the Consistory was enlarged to eight members.

The Classis, rather promptly, appointed a committee to organize a church at High Bridge. The Classis met on February 13, 1966, for an organizational service. Three months after the organization of the
new church, a call was unanimously voted and sent to the Rev. Cornelius Wykoff to become the first
pastor. Mr. Wyckoff had served his last church in Rochester, for twenty-five years. He had retired in
1865 because of ill health. In 1866, when he received the call from High Bridge, he believed he was
sufficiently rested to assume his new responsibilities. He was then 56 years old. However, within a year
of his arrival in High Bridge, his two eldest daughters died, and his own health continued to decline. As
a result, he was never installed as a minister of the church, but continued as a stated supply. He was
finally forced, because of his health to resign in 1869.

The young congregation next sent a call to the Rev. Robert VanAmburgh of Lebanon. Rev. VanAmburgh had moderated at the new church at High Bridge while he was serving at Lebanon. He also, while at Lebanon, had come over to High Bridge to preach in the afternoons for a period of two years. He agreed to accept the call to High Bridge, but not until the new congregation had settled the question of a new sanctuary, which they were then considering. When the issue was settled, Rev. VanAmburgh began his ministry here in 1869. His pastorate was to last only two years. For some reason, things did not go too well, and he resigned in 1870.

Things went well with the construction, completion and financing of a new sanctuary. George B. Post
had been secured as the architect, and he designed a rather different and unique Gothic structure. On
July 4, 1870, a special celebration was held to raise funds for the new building, and over $2,000.00 was raised on that day alone.

The records of the Consistory contain no mention of the dedication of the church building. The
dedication, however, took place sometime in 1970. The structure cost over $12,000.00, and the amount was raised without too much difficulty. Things seemed to take a decided turn for the better, as far ministers were concerned, when the Rev. Jacob Fehrman became the pastor in 1871. A committee
was appointed in February of 1872 to plan the construction of a new parsonage. This new endeavor
was completed in less than a year, and by April 1873, the new congregation numbered sixty-two
families, and seventy-five communicant members, but the pastorate was once again short lived. Mr.
Fehrman died on Sunday, March 1, 1874, “at ten o’clock, A.M., just as the bell was sounding for service.” He was only thirty-six at the time. For the third time in eight years the congregation was without a minister. The next minister, however, Rev. Artemus Dean, served the congregation for ten years.There was steady progress made in the church’s ministry and witness, and harmony prevailed over the congregation.

In 1906, during the pastorate of the Rev. Oscar V. Voorhees, the Chapel was erected, at a cost of
$6,100.00. Mr. Lewis H. Taylor had initiated the fund drive in 1904 for a Chapel by offering $1,000.00
toward a Chapel if the congregation would raise $1,500.00 during the next two years. Dedication
services were held in May of 1907.

In the summer of 1930, the steeple of the church was damaged in a severe storm, requiring repairs
costing $3,000.00. The reconstructed steeple is not as high as the original. In that same year, the
present organ was installed. The organ was a gift of Nathaniel, May, and Elizabeth Voorhees, in memory of their brother, Foster M. Voorhees, ex-governor of New Jersey. The organ was built by the Skinner Company and consists of two manuals and possesses 800 pipes. It was dedicated on Sunday morning, June 1, 1930.

The church is listed as a New Jersey Historical Site, and well as a National Historic Site.