A New Steeple for N.J.'s Oldest English-Speaking Church
By Mariam Jukaku
Dozens of congregants, politicians and community members gathered this morning on the historic church grounds of Old First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth to watch the first piece of the white aluminum steeple rise to the top of the church's bell-tower.
"I don't know why, but I feel so proud at this moment," said Borys Abulevsko, a long-time member of the 344-year-old church, which sits next to the Union County Courthouse on Broad Street.
Joe Epstein/The Star-LedgerA worker hold a guide rope attached to the lower section of the new 125-foot-tall steeple as it is raised to the roof of the Old First Presbyterian Church.
Founded by New England Puritans from Long Island in 1644, the church
lost its last steeple and much of the rest of it's building in a fire in
1946. The church was rebuilt, but the dwindling congregation didn't have
enough money to resurrect the steeple.
The steeple is just one part of a $9 million renovation to the church's main building, centuries-old cemetery and parish house. More than $5 million of that comes from the Harold B. and Dorothy A. Snyder Foundation, though donors include the Union County Historic Preservation Trust Fund and other historic societies.
After the formal ceremony this morning, the steeple was lowered again to make adjustments. Passers-by may see the tower go up and down several times during the day until workers get the fit just right.
Michael Bradley, a church member who's been heavily involved with the project, said he'll be there to babysit the steeple until the last piece goes up.
"It's too exciting to walk away from," Bradley said. "The steeple will tell (the community), 'Yes, we're alive and well and ready to go for another 300 years.'"