Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

New Jersey Historic Trust Affiliated with the Department of Community Affairs

Saint Mary's Catholic Church Complex, Plainfield

New Jersey Historic Preservation Bond Program
Matching Grants Award
Grant Award: $283,412 (1996)
Grant Recipient: Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church
County: Union
Municipality: Plainfield City

With its tall, pyramidal steeple and colorful brick facade, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church is a prominent element in the Plainfield streetscape. The only late-nineteenth century church complex remaining in the city, St. Mary's is an outstanding example of the use of the High Victorian Gothic style in ecclesiastical architecture. Its architect, Jeremy O'Rourke, designed several Roman Catholic churches in New Jersey, including Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark, completed by Isaac E. Ditmars after O'Rourke's death. Built between 1875 and 1880 (with later modifications), the church is stylistically notable not only for its steeple and coloring, but also for its patterned slate roof, buttresses, Gothic arches and leaded stained glass.

The congregation has an active social outreach program that includes helping the homeless, maintaining a food pantry, organizing ethnic food festivals and hosting organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The building is a dominant structure in the 18-block area designated by the city as the St. Mary's Neighborhood Preservation Program, a district slated for improvements by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

The Trust grant funded the first phase of exterior work in an overall restoration of this religious complex. Work included repairs to and protection of stained glass windows, roof repairs, and restoration of exterior masonry and woodwork.

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