First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell, Caldwell – Origin:
The first step towards organizing a congregation in Horse-Neck was taken under the leadership of Rev. James Caldwell.
On July 17, 1779, a tract of land lying in what is now the center of the Borough of Caldwell, was given to the First Presbyterian Church in Horse-Neck “for the purpose of erecting a proper building and buildings for the support and conveniency of the public worship of Almighty God, and for the support and comfort of such minister of the Gospel of the Presbyterian denomination…and also for the use of a place for burial for said Congregation and Inhabitants.”
The building of a meeting house began in 1782, but due to the Revolutionary War, they had difficulty getting labor and material, so the meeting house was not completed until the close of 1786. The Old Parsonage, as the building was called, was located near the present site of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, and had living quarters for the minister on the first floor and one large room on the second floor that was used as the sanctuary.
Then, in February of 1787, the church at Horse-Neck took advantage of a law passed by the state legislature and became a corporate body under the name The First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell.
For nearly three and a half years, the congregation had gone on without installing a regularly called minister.
On July 23, 1788, Rev. Stephen Grover was duly ordained and installed as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. The church membership was growing and it reached the point where the upper floor of the parsonage was too small to hold Sunday meetings.
So, by the summer of 1792, forty of the best carpenters in the parish were employed and a plan was adopted to build a wooden Meeting House on the site of today’s First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell, Caldwell. The area was surrounded by a wooden fence with turnstiles built in to keep cows and horses off the church lawn. There was also a stable and hitching posts for the parishioners’ horses and buggies.
The congregation held its first services in the new building on April 6, 1796.