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The Peddie Memorial/First Baptist Church

Exterior View

A paradigm of how eclectic Victorian architecture can be, the exterior of the Peddie Church features Byzantine, Romanesque, Moorish, and Gothic touches. The congregation dates back to 1801 and had three smaller homes before moving into the present structure in 1890.

Click Here to see the Peddie Church's location at 572 Broad Street

Mayor Thomas Baldwin Peddie was a Scottish born manufacturer of leather goods. Enlarging his fortune during the Civil War by making knapsacks for the Union Army, Peddie then turned to the public good, gave $25,000 to a female seminary in Hightstown (later named for him), and served two terms as mayor of Newark 1866-1869 and one term as US Congressman 1877-79. In the 1880s Peddie gave the money for this church. Peddie's vision was that his church building would function as more than a place of worship. In his bequest he advised that the church be "open to every great meeting of a proper kind that people desire to hold, and should be dedicated to religion, to education and to the social purposes for the good of all the people." He died at the time of its completion.

The interior of the Peddie Church is richly furnished with irreplaceable oak and metalwork, but dimly lit. Lamps (formerly gas) are suspended by gargoyles. Behind the stage there is a large baptism bath with a gently sloping walkway in.

The Peddie Church's architect was Newark-born William Halsey Wood, (1855-1897), who also designed the Clark mansion on Mt. Prospect Avenue. Often described as "short lived, but brilliant," Wood was Episcopalian, not Baptist, and was trained in England. Nearly all of Wood's designs were Gothic or Norman, so the Peddie Church was deeply out of character for this reserved forty year old.

Grillwork
The exterior of the church could use some cleaning, but is well worth examination by anyone with time. There are grotesques and extremely elaborate floral carvings. The Scottish heritage of the church’s benefactor is reflected in the thistle motif on one of one of the frontal columns. A statue of St. Peter former was formerly at the peak of the roof, but it was never replaced after being destroyed by lightning. Stained Glass

The Peddie Church is still very much active. Its membership has changed with the city of Newark and is now one of the most diverse congregations to be found anywhere. The main entrance doors are closed weekdays, but the side door may be open. If the church is open on a day you visit, church members will be proud to show you around.

 

 

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