Monday, June 2, 2014

The St. Mark Church

This church dates back to 1827, when a local parish decided to spread out from their main building in Newark. Before long, the new group grew into the most wealthy offshoots from the main church.


In 1860, the parish began working on their building as West Orange began to change. A large steeple was built onto the front- left side of the building, as well as some other changes to the structure. The additions, which were in a Gothic Revival style, were designed by famed architect Richard Upjohn.


The church was very influential in the history of West Orange, operating the first elementary and high schools in town.


The group was dwindling by the 1960's, and they were running out of money. It was added to the NRHP in the 1970's, but without the money to properly maintain the building the church soon began to fall apart. Preservation New Jersey listed it as one of the top 10 most endangered historic places in the state in the 1990's.


Despite the church's conditions, different groups held services in the building over the next decade. The current signs on the church said that a Spanish congregation was occupying the structure. However, the tall grass and boards on the doors said otherwise.


The last group to occupy the building left in 2009, and since then water has worked its way into the structure. A section of the roof above the altar area had started to show signs of damage, shedding shingles and slowly buckling.



Signs of hope emerged though, as groups had been seen touring and doing work to the structure in late 2013. The building has been re- secured, and I believe most of the relics left by the last congregation were removed at this time. The church building was officially sold in 2015, and the new  owners did a bunch of work to the structure.  This included illegally removing several of the windows of the historic building. The beautiful old stained glass was removed and several tiny vinyl windows were installed as replacements.


Then on the first day of 2016, residents awoke to news that the church was being gutted by a large fire. Sure enough, the three alarm blaze completely destroyed the St. Marks Church. The renovation of the structure was supposed to give the building a new life. After the the brazen removal of the windows, it was clear to many that the buildings new life was not going to be what we expected. But we didn't anticipate it to  be so short.

8 comments:

  1. It's amazing that it's still in such a good state. I'd expect that it would be completely trashed and full of graffiti after a couple of weeks. Nice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I'm glad it wasn't vandalized, especially since the neighborhood it is in appears to be on the decline. The building is very well secured.

      Delete
    2. Befored the church was bought it was vandalized by drug adicts that took water pipes from it and flood basement and where was the History Society then Where where? All the History Society wanted from this is more money and not to protect it

      Delete
  2. The woodwork is amazing

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Were you able to take any pictures of the windows? If so could you post them or send them please if I gave you an e-mail?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately I only have the photos that you see here. I wish I took more time to shoot them especially since they have mostly all been removed.

      Delete
  5. Many people only see the structure history of this church because they never stoped inside to see the miracles that God did inside this church they History socity blames the congregation whom bought the church . But what they do not know is the it has hurt Us more then them because you see this as a monument to admire as a histo building but all of us who used to prais God here whe saw this place as the House of God and not just as a monument, because God was in this church God bless you all

    ReplyDelete