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Panoramas: Lower Valley
St. Paul's Church National Historic Site
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Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site consists of the restored Colonial church (1763-87) built in the Georgian style, the historic village green, the historic cemetery and the Bill of Rights Museum dedicated to freedom of religion, press and John Peter Zenger trial. A National Park Service property, Saint Paul's was declared a National Historic site in 1943. The Church and Museum are open Monday thru Friday 9am-5pm. Cemetery tours April thru October on the last Sunday of each month. The grounds may be visited at any time of the day.

During the Revolutionary War, the partially completed church was used as a hospital by the British and Hessian troops. About 100 Hessian soldiers are buried in a mass grave at the back of the cemetery. In front of the church, on the Village Green was the scene of the 1733 election in which the Quakers were denied the right to vote resulting from their religious beliefs preventing them from taking a sacred oath. Following this election, the Quakers petitioned for and won the right to vote without taking an oath, thus winning an early victory in the struggle for the freedom of religion in the colonies. After the American Revolution, the church was used as a courthouse in which Aaron Burr practiced in 1787.

The cemetery is a fascinating place for anyone interested in genealogy or historic burying grounds. Headstones dating back to the early 1700's can be easily found. Burials starting in the early 18th century and continuing right through the 19th century provide a nearly complete record of death customs and monument styles. Everything from antique and unreadable early head stones right thru elaborate Victorian obelisks and un-named Hessians in unmarked graves are present in the cemetery. Early prominent citizens and common folk, High Society and low are all to be found resting comfortably here.

One word of warning. St. Paul's Church National Historic Site is located in a less than ideal spot now. It is surrounded by distressed industrial buildings and commercial strips. Finding it in the maze of highways and pot-holed streets is a challenge. But do take the time if you are interested, you will be rewarded with the magnificent architecture of the church, the small museum and the cemetery for your efforts.

 
 
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