Visitors to Bridgeton’s Old Broad Street Church and Cemetery this summer will enjoy a host of free tours, lectures and exhibits, as the Friends of Old Broad Street Church and the Broad Street Cemetery Association partner for a unique program that opens the church every Sunday in July to some of the less-told early history of “Bridgetown” between the Revolution and the Civil War.
The program kicks off July 5 at 1 PM as Broad Street Cemetery expert Jim Bergmann leads three 50-minute time-traveler tours of the historic burial ground, each stressing a different theme and section while mapping the old road and the evolution of burials and monuments.
The two following Sundays feature talks on intriguing aspects of post-Revolutionary South Jersey. On July 12, historian Jonathan “Jack” Wood unfolds the colorful life of Bridgeton Patriot and Presbyterian church founder, Jonathan Elmer, whose stint as Continental Congressman and field doctor in the Revolution led to an influential local career promoting national unity and impacting early worship in the church.
On July 19, noted African American historian James Johnson unpacks some of the relentless work of South Jersey African Americans for full citizenship in the period before and just after the Civil War, when antislavery activities and service for the Union helped gain voting rights for black men in 1870.
The program climaxes on July 26th with a multimedia celebration of the church itself, thought to have potential as a National Landmark. An array of original eye-opening art, craft and photography inspired by the picturesque church and its setting includes a remarkable quilt by Debbie Olivero, whose exquisitely-crafted work uses fabric of the era and incorporates names, images, and other identifying information about the lives of Civil War soldiers buried in the Broad Street cemetery.
Historic tavern lovers should note that Cumberland County Historical Society volunteers in period costume will be staffing the iconic salt-box-style pub known as Potter’s Tavern these same four Sundays from 1-4 PM. Just a few blocks east of the church and cemetery, this West Broad Street tavern is famous for its association with New Jersey’s first newspaper—the Revolutionary broadside known as the “Plain Dealer.”
All lectures and tour activities are free of charge. Cemetery and other informational books will be available for purchase, and Jim Bergmann will take orders for his second cemetery book, now nearing completion,
A full schedule of activities with a link to map and travel information can be found on the website of the program sponsoir, Bridgeton’s First Presbyterian Church, at: http://www.fpcbridgeton.org/programs.html or http://www.historicbuildingarts.org/HistoricBuildingArts/A_Month_of_Sundays.html.
From: H-New Jersey