1724 church under construction

1724 church under construction

Completed 1728 church

Completed 1728 church

1799 church

1799 church

Old South Church 1801 (before fence)

Old South Church 1801 (before fence)

1868 church with white fence

1868 church with white fence

Church House work in progress

Church House work in progress

South Church House dedicated in 1952

South Church House dedicated in 1952

 

SOUTH CHURCH is descended from the first Schraalenburgh congregation established in 1723. The first church building was constructed beginning in 1724, and fully completed by 1728. This was approximately 36 feet square with a Dutch hip roof ascending to a central belfry and steeple.

 

This church stood atop a small hill just west of Long Swamp Brook, facing south and fronting on the new county road laid down in 1717. Using today's landmarks, we can describe the site as the southeast corner of the present cemetery, directly across Church Street from the South Church House. For more than seventy years, this small church building served the farmers of Schraalenburgh. 

 

The site of the new church was apparently chosen because of the presence of a large spring across the road near Long Swamp Brook. 

 

The philosophy of the Dutch Reformed Church shaped the growth and development in the early years of the church's existence. In the more than two and a half centuries of its history, the members of the congregation had to choose many times between the strictly puritanical concepts and the more convenient religious beliefs, and invariably chose the puritanical. Some members were the patriots of the Revolution while others were Tories.

 

 

In 1799, the new South Schraalenburgh Church was built a short distance to the west of the original building.

 

Because of differences within the congregation in the late 1700s, two groups were formed and when a decision was made to build a new church, the opposing group withdrew, purchased land and built the North Schraalenburgh (now Dumont) Reformed Church in 1801.

 

In May 1866 the congregation voted to enlarge and remodel the building, adding 15 feet to the north end and replacing part of two windows in the front with doors on each side of the original single door, as you see it now.  This was completed in 1867.

 

In the past century, the building has had its share of modernizations— candlelight gave way to oil lamps, and in turn to electrification. Heat was installed,  first coal fired, then oil, now gas, although the old drafts persist to this day. However, the charm and grace of the old Dutch Church at Schraalenburgh have remained.

 

The South Church House completed and dedicated in September 1952, on the corner of West Church and Franklin Avenue, is used by the church for various classes and events and many community organizations meet there.  In 2002 South Presbyterian Church celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Church House.

 

 

The South Presbyterian Church was placed on the National Registry December 6, 1975 and the Manse on August 24, 1979, both through the efforts of Mrs. Adrian Leiby.

 

 

In 1913, after much discussion, the congregation chose to unite with the Presbyterian Church.  Today, after more than 292 years of building, remodeling, parting and uniting, the South Presbyterian Church of Bergenfield remains true to the Dutch farmers who first came to this site to worship in 1723. . . steadfast in purpose and faith.