Blawenburg-crossroad-001

Blawenburg 1900

Blawenburg Reformed Church was built in 1830 and organized in 1832 as a mission of the Dutch Reformed Church at Harlingen. As the population grew in the Blawenburg area (now part of Montgomery Township) people farming and living in this area wanted to worship closer to home rather than travel the 3-4 miles to Harlingen.

In September 1830, the parishioners finally broke ground for the church that they had been talking about since the turn of the nineteenth century. The structure was raised in an amazing three days. Wood came from Rocky Hill and New Hope. Many people pooled their talents to build the large Georgian-style edifice. It took two more years to officially organize and separate from Harlingen.

Original families had Dutch names like Terhune, Van Zandt, Skillman, and Voorhees. Some descendents of these families continue to worship in the church today. These families rented the enclosed pews in order to meet the church budget. This method of fund raising is no longer practiced.

Blawenburg-sanctuary-1900

Front of the Sanctuary in the late 1800s.

By 1860 there were so many people worshiping in the church that the church was too small. They added an addition, which moved the pulpit area forward 20 feet. One of the parishioners, Paul Tulane, donated a bell in the 1860s. His requirement was that it had to be loud enough to he heard at his home on Cherry Valley Road. This bell is still rung each Sunday. [As a sideline, Mr. Tulane also wanted to donate a large amount of money to Princeton University with the understanding that it would be named after him. When the University declined his offer, he found a taker far away in New Orleans!] The church also added a pump organ at about the same time. Later the organ was electrified, so the youth who manually pumped it could pay closer attention to the sermon on Sundays! In the 1890s the church ceiling was in need of repair, and it was completely replaced with a tongue and groove oak ceiling which added a Victorian flavor to the sanctuary. As the years have gone on, the old sheds where the horses and carriages were left during the service have been torn down. An education building was added in the late 1950s. The old school, which is adjacent to the church, is now the church-operated Village Preschool. Blawenburg Reformed Church has played a significant role in the life of area residents, and it plans to continue its mission of Christian service into the foreseeable future. Members and friends of the Hopewell Historical Society are welcomed to see this building which is listed on the National Historic Register. Sunday worship is at 10:00 AM. This brief history is based upon By Grace through Faith written by David Cochran in 1982 in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the organization of the church. Copies are available at the church for $5.00. ¬†Similarly, another book, Blawenburg Reformed Church, 1832-2007, 175 Years of Faith and Hope, was published in celebration of the church’s 175th anniversary. It is available for $25.00.

THE MONGOMERY VIDEO PROJECT INTERVIEWS

History
James Cook Video
Interview 1: Tom Skillman
Interview 2: Grace Terhune
Interview 3: Harold Skillman
Interview 4: Jean Skillman
Interview 5: Mait Van Nostrand
Interview 6: Grace Johnson