The West Trenton Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary in February 2018!
The WTPC was officially established 100 years ago, so let’s examine the genesis of this venerable institution. In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, the hamlet of West Trenton was known as Birmingham. This is the same Birmingham that George Washington’s troops passed through on their way to the famous battle of Trenton, the turning point of the Revolutionary War.
The WTPC was originally formed as a Presbyterian Sunday school known as the Birmingham Sunday School. It was under the guidance of Reverend Eli F. Cooley as early as 1845. Eli Cooley was the reverend of the earlier established First Presbyterian Church in Ewing on Scotch Road.
In 1881 a train station on the Reading Railroad spur to Trenton was built a quarter-mile from the present-day church. In 1882 Birmingham changed its name to Trenton Junction, so the Sunday school did too. In 1906, to accommodate the growing population, the old Ewing Grange Hall #73 on New Street was purchased and used for worship.
On September 30th, 1917 a meeting was held to organize a community church. During that meeting, Isaac F. Richey, a prominent Trenton banker, donated two lots bordering the Grange Hall. On February 28th, 1918, the Trenton Junction Sunday School incorporated and formed the Trenton Junction Community Church with forty-two names signed as the charter members. I found this 100-year-old original signed charter while looking through the church records in the attic of WTPC! While the charter officially established the Trenton Junction Community Church, worship continued to be held in Grange Hall. The church was growing and needed a larger building with a proper sanctuary and church bell.
In the 1920s, discussion of building a chapel began, but there were financial concerns. The Ladies Aid Society organized to raise funds for the new church. It’s interesting to note that the societal norms of the day excluded women from serving on the governing boards, so these women took action by fundraising. The Society’s bylaws read, “No funds shall be raised from worldly amusements, such as card playing or dancing.” They held traditional “Ham and Sauerkraut” and “Oyster” suppers. Finally in 1930 plans were underway to build a new church. The architect’s plans specified that “The chapel, in the modified Norman style of architecture, will be built of stone and with cast stone trim. It will present a charming example of an English village church” (Church brochure, April 1931). The original cost of the building would have been $24,000, but the stone cast trim option was eliminated bringing the final cost to $18,000. Imagine! An entire stone church complete with a bell tower was constructed for less than $20,000. Today that money could buy you a Honda Civic! Construction began, and the church’s beautiful brownstone was cut from the DeFlesco-Loveday Quarry on Wilburtha Road. The cornerstone for the new church was laid in 1931, and the official dedication was on October 16, 1932. The church was then renamed the West Trenton Presbyterian Church.
WTPC is 100 years old, but the church still has the same ideals and tenets that were at the core of its original mission. We are a small, close-knit congregation committed to serving our parishioners and our community. Our members are involved in a number of committees such as Elders, Deacons, a Ladies Society now called the Circle of Love, as well as an active outreach group that works with Homefront, Meals on Wheels, and Children's Home Society.
Today the church holds services on Sundays at 10:30. The Sunday school has classes for kids from three years old through high school and meets from September to June. The church has a praise band that plays contemporary Christian music. Boy Scout Troop 33 and other organizations also meet in Fellowship Hall at WTPC.
So, whether you're looking for a place for worship and spiritual guidance, a place to volunteer and help others, or simply a place to belong, we hope you will consider our church. If you would like to learn more visit us or contact us.