Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

New Jersey Historic Trust Affiliated with the Department of Community Affairs

Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church

Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund
Historic Site Management Grant
Grant Award: $12,000 (2008)
Grant Recipient: Historical and Educational Lodge-Hall Preservatory
County: Gloucester
Municipality: Woolwich

Mount Zion Church was founded in 1799 on land set aside for a freed black settlement by anti-slavery Quakers.  The building, originally constructed in 1830s, was a stop on the Springtown Underground Rail Road route, and a trap door under the vestibule is said to have been a hiding place for escaped slaves.  Two additions, late 19th century and 1959, to the rear of the church, provide a fellowship hall, restrooms and kitchen.

The church retains some historic integrity but hidden under modern siding and paneling.  Once located in a rural setting, the building is now surrounded by track housing and a modern school and ball fields.  An easement across the railroad tracks connects the church to its cemetery, now landlocked by development.  The church was acknowledged as one of New Jersey’s endangered sites in 2005.

The Trust grant helped fund a conditions assessment of the original church and made recommendations for preservation, repair and restoration.  The report also made recommendations for facility use, long-term stewardship and interpretation of this historic resource.

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