North Reformed Church

by Old Newark Memory Submission


About a year or so ago I had heard that the pastor, Rev. Robert Barrowclough, was about to retire. I'm not sure who replaced him though. (Newark Memories note: the new pastor is Rev. Randy Van Doornik) The number of parishioners has dwindled to around 50 or so mostly elderly persons. The church had just turned 150 years old last year.

The church was once home to many of Newark's famous "movers and shakers" among them were the Ballantines, the Frelinghuysens, and former United States Supreme Court Justice, from 1870 to 1892, Joseph Bradley. The church was actually started in Bradley's home in 1856, some fourteen years before he was appointed to the Court by President Ulysses S. Grant. He had is own private pew in the church. The pew and nameplate are still there.

I'll quote here from that newspaper: Rev. Barrowclough tells the story of how the two church members influenced American History. Bradley, as a Supreme Court justice and a member of a special electoral commission, cast the deciding vote in 1876, breaking the tie in the Electoral College between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden. Hayes, the Republican, became President.

Freylinghuysen was a Republican senator at the time and it was widely believed that he influenced Bradley's vote. "A presidential election was probably decided on a train from Newark to Washington," said Barrowclough, "after the two men had worshipped together at North Reformed church," he said.

One of the more famous preachers in the church was Abraham Polhemus whose home still stands on Washington Street right next door to the Newark Museum and which is rumored to have been one of the houses on the "Underground Railroad."

There are beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows in the church one of which is dedicated to the soldiers of the two World Wars and another window which pays honor to one of the founders of the church, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, who went on to become a United States Senator and also a Secretary Of State.

Like many churches in the inner cities this one has fallen on hard times and I hope that somehow it is able to survive.


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