Our History

A Brief History of our Church

On June 10, 1837, twenty-one men and women met in Liberty Corner to establish “the Presbyterian Church of Liberty Corner”. Many of their family names, such as Annin, Cross, Irving and Dunham, are familiar to residents of the area today, having been incorporated in the names of a school, a park, and various local streets in Bernards Township.
Things moved quickly, and on September 5, 1837, the cornerstone for our first sanctuary was laid. This structure, which was constructed of brick and located on the site of our present sanctuary, stood until 1868.
Our church’s first pastor, Rev. James T. English, preached his first sermon to the new congregation on July 30, 1837. Rev. English, affectionately given the honorific title of “Dominie”, remained our pastor until his death in 1873, at age 63. He is buried in our graveyard.
Through the 1800s, farming was the principal occupation of the inhabitants of Liberty Corner and the surrounding area. The village itself was small, and a history of New Jersey published in 1834, just three years before our church was formed, described it as containing “a tavern, store, and some 20 dwellings, inhabited by intelligent and respectable families, in a fertile and well-cultivated valley”. Growth came to both our church and Liberty Corner in the years preceding and immediately following the Civil War, with a circa 1870 map of the village showing a hotel, two stores, a blacksmith, a schoolhouse, and a carriage factory. With this growth also came the need for a new and larger sanctuary.
The cornerstone for the current sanctuary was laid on June 5, 1868. Local resident and church member James Goltra agreed to construct the building at a cost of $8000. It was to stand on the “footprint” of the old sanctuary and to be completed in six months. Materials from the old church building were salvaged and used to build a structure next door. That building, referred to throughout the church’s history at various times as the Session House, as well as the Chapel, is now known as the Amos Room.
The current sanctuary was dedicated on June 8, 1869. The exterior of the building that stands on Church Street today looks much the same as it did at that time, with two notable exceptions. After a dramatic collapse in a storm, the original steeple was replaced with a smaller one that we see today. Another change occurred in 1969. At that time, the rear of the sanctuary was extended by 30 feet to provide additional space for the altar, choir, and organ, as well as a “music room” below it.
The design of the current sanctuary is attributed to Aaron Hudson, a Mendham architect and builder. The structure of the building resembles that of other churches in the area that he designed such as the Pottersville Reformed Church and the Westfield Presbyterian Church.
Pottersville Reformed Church
In 1991, the village of Liberty Corner was entered into both the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. As stated in the application for designation that was filed with the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, the Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church sanctuary is “the architectural centerpiece of the village” and “today displays excellent integrity, with most of its original design features and ornamentation intact.”
The opening of interstate highways, the construction of corporate office facilities, and the re-zoning battles that introduced “planned residential neighborhoods” into the area in the last half of the 20th century brought great population growth and increased membership in our church. With this increase in the church’s size came the need for additional space. A major building project was conducted in 1957, and provided for the construction of the Christian Education Building. Included in this project was the building that now houses Douglas Hall, the Dominie English Library, and the Sam and Alice Lare Room.
1960s view of the Chapel and Douglas Hall
A new office wing, sometimes referred to as the Annex, was added to the Christian Education Building at the same time the Sanctuary was being extended in 1969. This wing included the Dwight White Room, the Jean White Room, and the Acken Room.
1969 addition to the Education Building
In 1992, construction commenced on a 10,200 square foot addition to the Christian Education Building. This project, which in 1994 won an award from Somerset County for “superior land planning and development,” included adding space presently occupied by The Children’s Corner as well as an addition to Douglas Hall.

Most recently, on June 1, 2003, a new 21,700 square foot “ministry center” was dedicated. This space includes what is now called Center Court, the church offices, and classrooms.
In July 2015 our congregation voted to seek the termination of our affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA), which granted us a gracious dismissal. We were then welcomed into ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, where we remain today.

If you are interested in a more comprehensive history of our church, let us know by dropping a note in the Historical Records mailbox in the main office or emailing LCPCHistory@gmail.com.

Historical Documents

This section includes scans of documents from the formation of the church up to the present.

American Tract Society Letter

In June 1829 an Auxiliary Tract Society was formed in Liberty Corner. It was a branch of the American Tract Society of New York and its object was to promote the interest of evangelical religion and sound morality in this vicinity by circulating religious tracts. Its formation anticipated and prepared the way for the organization of Liberty Corner Church.

April 1837 Meeting Minutes

In April 1837, the people of Liberty Corner met to adopt such measures as were necessary to organize a Presbyterian Church. Two months later, on June 10, 1837, the Presbytery of Elizabethtown met with leaders from Liberty Corner and The Presbyterian Church of Liberty Corner was formed. A summary of these events was written into the Session Minutes book.

Pew Deed

During the church’s early years, pew rentals served as a source of revenue. Here we have included a scan of an actual 1877 Deed for a Pew Rental.

Seating Chart

Since pews were rented to specific individuals and families, a seating chart for the Sanctuary was needed. Here is the seating chart that was used in 1871.

Pastors

This section  includes photos and biographical sketches of each of our pastors.
We have been blessed by the spiritual guidance, scholarship and discipleship exhibited by our staff over the years. Since its founding, The Presbyterian Church of Liberty Corner has been privileged to have been led by an outstanding succession of pastors. Twenty individuals have served as senior pastors.

Here is a booklet showing a photo of each pastor and a few significant dates from each pastor’s time at LCPC.

Worship

This is the heart of why our church was formed. This section includes the manner and forms of worship throughout the history of church.
We thought you would like to see a “snapshot” of the Easter Worship Services and activities in the life of the church from April 8, 2007.

Traditional Worship Bulletin

Contemporary Worship Bulletin

The Gallery Choir from October 1968.

Church Life

Since its formation, our church has been at the center of religious and social life in our community. This section includes stories and photos of events that reflect that life.
Since its establishment, Liberty Corner Church has served as a social meeting place for people in the community. Newspaper articles from the early 1900s speak of the popularity of the oyster suppers and steak dinners that were served to hundreds of people who traveled from the surrounding area. In the mid to late 1900s, annual events such as the “Strawberry Festival” and “Homecoming Supper” were immensely popular, and raised money for church activities.

Here is a scan of an advertisement for the 120th Annual Strawberry Festival from 1996.
Here are some photos from the 2000 Strawberry Festival.
In March 2020, the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic and we had no in-person worship. We decided to check the Session minutes to see what LCPC did during the 1918 influenza pandemic, knowing that churches worldwide closed their doors for a time during that pandemic. Sadly, no record was left for us; only a gap of four months in the minutes.

We decided to maintain a timeline of events for future generations to see what we experienced during this pandemic. We think you will be amazed at all that transpired and encourage you to take a look now.

Buildings

From a single building in 1837, our church has grown to a sprawling campus. This section will trace that growth with stories and photos.
There is no photo or description of the original sanctuary, other than it was a brick structure and stood where the current sanctuary stands.

The current sanctuary was built in 1869, and expanded in 1969. We will be showing photos of this building, as well as all the others, in the future. For now, here are three photos of the interior of our sanctuary over the years.
The Sanctuary c. 1902
The Sanctuary c. 1957
1987 Congregation

Graveyard

This section will include information about individuals who are buried in our graveyard.
The earliest recorded burial in our graveyard was in 1839.  Veterans from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War are all represented, as are an unknown number of African Americans who attended our church. In 2012, a “memorial garden” was established to the west of the graveyard.
The Memorial Garden

Liberty Corner Village

This section will include materials regarding the history, inhabitants and growth of the village over the years, and include old photos of the village.
Every little village needed a general store, and Liberty Corner had a couple of them. One of them was the Koechlein General Store. Here is a photo c. 1904. It stood where Krauszer’s stands in 2022.
Another general store was the Acken store. It stood where Domino’s Pizza stands in 2022 and also served as the Post Office.

Miscellaneous Photos

It is said that a photo is worth a thousand words. This section includes interesting photos that speak of the history of our church and the village.
This postcard shows Church Street and Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church in 1912.
This postcard shows Koechlein Hall, which was on the second floor, above Koechlein’s General Store. It  was a popular venue for many types of community social activities, particularly dances.