First Presbyterian Church of Williamsburgh (Congregation)

The First Presbyterian Church was one of the oldest Protestant congregations in the village of Williamsburgh. It was also one of the most short-lived and had a tempestuous start. The congregation was founded as part of the New School Presbyterian Synod on May 26, 1842. At its founding, the church had 15 members, seven male and eight female. That same year, a number of founding parishioners left the congregation to form the First Congregational Church of Williamsburgh. The source of this split was racial equity and the abolition of slavery - the church refused to seat Black parishioners with the congregation, instead relegating them to the back of the church, and the main body of the Church itself refused to embrace abolition as a goal and imperative.1

In 1844, there was a doctrinal split that led to the founding of the South 3rd Street Presbyterian Church of Williamsburgh. By this time, the original congregation had grown to 86 parishioners under the leadership of Rev. Joseph Rawson Johnson. Certain parishioners wanted to affiliate the congregation with the Old School Presbytery of New York and, failing to convince their fellow congregants, left the congregation on March 29, 1844 to form the new Presbyterian congregation a block or two away.2

In 1845 Rev. James McLane took over as pastor of the church. McLane served the congregation until 1864 and under his direction a new church building was constructed at South 4th and Roebling Street. This building still stands and now serves as the home of El Puente.

The congregation dissolved about 1887 and the church property was sold to the Trinity Methodist Protestant Church. Their occupancy was short lived and by the 1890s the church was home to St. Mary Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church, a Lithuanian congregation founded in 1892.

  • 1Henry Reed Stiles, A History of the City of Brooklyn : Including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburgh, vol. 3, 3 vols. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Pub. by subscription, 1867), 758-759; Samuel Reynolds, A History of the City of Williamsburgh (Williamsburgh [N.Y.]: Joseph C. Gandar, 1852), 42; “The Ecclesiastical History of Williamsburgh,” Brooklyn Times, February 26, 1898, 6.
  • 2Henry Reed Stiles, A History of the City of Brooklyn : Including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburgh, vol. 3, 3 vols. (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Pub. by subscription, 1867), 758-759.
Place type
Date
1842