Connolly & Hickey 

First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth
Burying Ground

Elizabeth, New Jersey
Client: First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth
Grants: Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund/Union County Historic Preservation Trust Fund

Burying Ground

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Brief Historical Overview:
The First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth is the oldest English-speaking congregation in New Jersey established in 1664 shortly after the settlement of Elizabethtown. The Church served as the only congregation in the community for forty years and was instrumental in the development of Elizabeth. The Church Complex consists of the 1793 Church Building, the Burying Ground and the 1916 Parish House. The Burying Ground dates to the original founding of the Church and contains grave markers dating from the late-seventeenth century to 1917 including markers for some of the church's most prominent patrons including Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, and Rev. James Caldwell, as well as prominent men in the fight for American Independence including Elias Boudinot, Gen. Elias Dayton and Gen. Matthias Ogden. The burying ground contains over 2,000 headstones; the total number of burials is unknown. The Burying Ground also contains numerous table monuments, obelisks, one-of-a-kind monuments, and burial mounds in addition to the numerous headstones made of a variety of materials and exhibiting a variety of conditions. Today, the burial ground at First Church is one of the few cemeteries in New Jersey that contains seventeenth-century grave markers.

Scope of Services:
In 2005, Keystone Preservation Group surveyed each marker within the Cemetery, noting their state of preservation, making preliminary recommendations for conservation, and identifying a priority for each marker based on those observed conditions. The project included restoring markers within the quadrant of the cemetery nearest Broad Street between the Church and Parish House based on a conservation program consisting of field tests on six markers exhibiting typical conditions. The project was bid to four qualified conservation firms based on the philosophy that the restoration of the cemetery and the individual grave markers is for the long-term preservation of the site and its features including the installation of conservation treatments that maximize the retention of significant historic fabric to the greatest degree possible. With limited exceptions, the re-creation of articulated details that have been lost to natural weathering was not included. The conservation scope included a range of treatments, including gentle cleaning, the removal of biological growth, composite repair, stabilization with adhesives and anchors, injection grouts and limited, localized consolidation. This initial project expanded since 2006 as funding became available to include the entire site; the work was undertaken by Materials Conservation Collaborative and the contract was administered by Connolly & Hickey with archaeology provided by Hunter Research.

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