Street Address
25 E. Second St.
New Castle, DE 19720
Mailing Address
25 E. Second St.
New Castle, DE 19720
phone: 302-328-3279
e-mail: ncpc1651@verizon.net
web: www.newcastlepreschurch.org
Admissions
Free
Museum Type(s)
Staff
Nancy L. Rowland, Pastor
Kris Krawczyk, Administrative Assistant

Mission

New Castle Presbyterian Church offers a nurturing and supportive environment where all are invited to join in worship, prayer, and fellowship while being treated with understanding, compassion, and tolerance. We are led by God's Living Word and the Holy Spirit. We seek to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, growing spiritually, in number, and in diversity. With a glad heart, working as a congregation or in cooperation with others, we provide service and outreach to the local community and to the world. Through our outreach activities, we help feed, clothe, and shelter the needy while spreading the Gospel. We are a historic church making a positive difference through the support of community events and organizations, providing use of our facilities, time, and resources.

History

The origins of this historic Presbyterian congregation go back over 350 years when a Dutch Reformed (Calvinist) clergyman conducted services in 1651 in Fort Casimir, just built by Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor (the site?s marker is at the end of Chestnut Street). In 1655 Reformed services were resumed with Rev. Johannes Megapolensis, after which laymen were appointed to read to the colonists on Sunday from "The Book of Homilies".

Then in April 1657, along with Director Jacob Alrichs, came a schoolmaster, Evert Pietersen, whose duties, besides teaching children and some adults were to publicly read the Holy Scriptures and sing the Psalms'. Later that year, the Rev. Everadus Wellius arrived, having been ordained and commissioned by the Classis of Amsterdam to minister to the congregation in what was then known as New Amstel. In his brief pastorate conducted in a house on the Strand (site of #26 and #28 today), he managed to increase the membership from 19 to 60.

Even though the English took control of the colony in 1664, they were content to permit the inhabitants to be left free to worship as before. Under the leadership of several pastors, the Dutch congregation flourished, with English, Swedes and Finns also in attendance. With the arrival in 1698 of the Rev. John Wilson, a Scotsman and Presbyterian from New England, the church soon became identified with this branch of the Reformed faith when Wilson joined with Francis Makemie and five other pastors in the Middle Colonies in 1706 to form the first Presbytery in the New World.

The present gambrel-roofed meeting house was built in 1707. The masons of that day laid their brick with lasting thoroughness and precision, using thin joints of lime mortar made from oyster shells to build the 18-inch thick walls. The great oak trusses, which still support the roof, were hewn and fitted by expert ship carpenters. The original building included that part of the present structure, which extends an equal distance on each side of the doorway facing The Green. Additional land was purchased in 1712 and an extension toward the northeast end was added. The line of this addition is clearly visible on the outside wall of the building.

Over the years many alterations were made to both the interior and the exterior of the meeting house. In 1801 the balcony was added. When, during the pastorate of the Rev. John B. Spotswood, the gothic brownstone sanctuary was built in 1854 (just a few feet to the north of present main Narthex entrance), the balcony was enclosed to provide Sunday School rooms, and a fellowship hall.

Prior to that time, other major changes to the original interior were made. in 1818, a 90-degree worship orientation was affected by filling in the large Palladian window (now restored in the south wall), removing the pulpit from the east wall (where it is now) and moving it to a raised platform under the closed over Palladian window. The pews were repositioned to face the pulpit.

As proud and as fond as the congregation became of the brownstone sanctuary over the course of a century, by the late 1940?s it had become evident that the builders of the new Gothic Sanctuary lacked the skill of the colonial craftsmen. There was deterioration in the mortar between the stone blocks, and there was serious concern that the tower was unsafe. Moreover, the congregation had dwindled to a handful, and the church was in dire financial condition. It was truly a crisis time.

But as the Chinese character for "crisis" is prophetically formed by the combination of the ideas of "danger" and "opportunity", so events for the New Castle Presbyterians proved to be. The old building was too dangerous and too costly to repair. But those were the days when the exciting possibilities of restoring historic colonial sites were at flood tide just think of Williamsburg! And the arrival of the Rev. Russel L. Jabert in 1947 with his enthusiasm and vigorous invitation to families to join the church supplied just the needed dynamic to move the congregation forward.

After consultation with an architect, and with the denomination's Board of National Missions, the committee appointed by the congregation decided that the brownstone sanctuary should be razed and the old meetinghouse restored. Work was begun in July 1949.

When the stucco was removed from the exterior of the 1707 building's walls, many interesting features were discovered or confirmed. The floor level was resolved when the stone sill was discovered at the base of the window that had replaced the original from door in the center of the west wall, when, as has been noted above, the room was square. This finding, in turn, helped determine the position of the first high pulpit against the middle of the opposite wall as confirmed by the discovery of the lone iron hook in the cornice molding which undoubtedly held the support rod for the sounding board over the pulpit just as it does today.

Under the able eye of architect Albert Kruse, AIA, restoration of the meeting house was completed in 1950 at the cost of $70,000 raised by denominational loans, gifts and subscriptions from the church members and friends. At the same time, the stately 1830 house at #20 The Strand, which had been given in 1885 by Samuel M. Couper for the residence of the pastors of the congregations, was also repaired and redecorated.

In the initial restoration plan, it had been hoped that funds could be raised to build a Christian Education building adjacent to the restored 1707 meeting house. Reality dictated otherwise, and instead, the church purchased a house on the Strand (#26) for this purpose. The church office was housed in rented space across the street from the church property in The Arsenal On The Greene. It wasn't until 1959 that the new and present Christian Education Building was completed and dedicated under the leadership of the Rev. Wilbert B. Smith. Recently renovated, it affords classrooms, office space, kitchen and a fellowship hall for a variety of church and community functions.

For over 350 years our members have been privileged to be part of this historic church and its ever-changing and challenging ministry. As members have worshipped here, been nurtured, and witnessed to their faith, welcomed newcomers and in many ways have responded to the spiritual and physical needs of the local as well as global community, we have been given a powerful and precious gift: deep appreciation for those who have preceded us and earnest commitment to work for the good and preach for those who follow.

Publications

  • 1=Newsletter - monthly
  • 2=Bulletin - weekly

ADA

Wheelchair Accessible