29 December 2016

Clover Hill Reformed Church

The organizing of the 18th and 19th century churches in Hillsborough Township, NJ followed a familiar pattern. Villagers who found it inconvenient to travel to nearby towns resolved to have a church of their own. They applied to church elders in New Brunswick or elsewhere to be recognized by the wider church. After the church was formally organized, leaders would commence raising funds to construct a building - in the meantime meeting at any convenient space.

Aerial view from Bing Maps
The residents of Clover Hill had different ideas. They began working on an edifice before receiving permission from the Dutch Reformed Church, which was granted on September 4, 1834 while the church was nearing completion. One month later on October 5, 1834 the Clover Hill Dutch Reformed Church was officially dedicated. Yes, the church was built on spec!


National Register application photo, 1977


Perhaps it was this independent streak which led the membership to secede from the Dutch Reformed denomination in 1840 and join with the Presbyterian Church - an affiliation which would last for twenty-two years. Abrahm Messler reports in his Forty Years at Raritan (1873) that ten years after rejoining the Dutch Reformed Church, the church was "enlarged and refitted" and boasted 75 families.


CLOVER HILL HISTORIC DISTRICT, HUNTERDON COUNTY
The rear of the church and the cemetery, 2007 By Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



The church is the centerpiece of the Clover Hill Historic District, entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The district encompasses properties in Hillsborough, Raritan, and East Amwell Townships. Here is the description of the church from the National Register nomination form:

Dutch Reformed Church, 1834. This is a two-story structure of wood frame construction, The foundation is of random-coursed rubble construction. There are three lancet windows on each side of the building and two round topped windows on the front (one on either side of the main entry-way). All of these windows are two stories tall. There are also two short round-topped windows directly above the main entry-way. The siding is of narrow width clapboard with the exception of the center section of he front of the building. This section is sided with a "fish scale" type of clapboard. The cupola presently found on top of the belfry replaced the steeple that was blown down in the 1880s. The roof is a simple gable type with asphalt shingles. The four corners of the main section of the building have short spires typical of the Gothic Revival style of architecture.








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