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July 2013

Times Gone By

It is interesting to recall the many changes to our church property over the years. Here is a unique 1891 photo of the Bernon S. Prentice home, which stood on the corner of Ward Avenue and Rumson Road until 1963.

The photo was published in the Rumson Borough Bulletin in the Summer of 1996.

You can see Holy Cross Church in the background on the left along with the Carriage House and its windmill.

from the Rumson Borough Bulletin Summer, 1996


Lightning Strikes

Don't know how many of you saw this from our parish history. There's no newspaper clipping we can find reporting on the actual dedication of Holy Cross Church.

The damage from the strike sounds significant and its repair surely was a significant percentage of the total construction costs. 

Lightning Strike
Red Bank Register 12 May 1886

Grading of Site

Today an additional piece of heavy equipment arrived to begin grading the construction site in preparation for digging the drainage system. 

Meantime work continues on uncovering the beams and removing the old shingles from the remaining portion of the church building.

(Photos to follow)

The Classic Facade of Holy Cross Church (Almost)

Some might be surprised to learn that the original clapboard and shingling of Holy Cross Church was a natural wood. This morning a workman stripped off the siding to disclose the original front and a number of hints that the front of the church was originally more elaborate than the white shingling have been accustomed to.

On the top peak of the church, there are signs that a projection of molding with dentate ornamentation was in place for many years surmounted by a small, round architectural design. 

Attachments of the old porch on the front of the church can also be seen, with the pilasters alongside the entryway doors.

It is unclear at this point how much reconstruction and/or repair the steeple itself will require, which is one of the reasons for stripping off the siding and exposing the structure of the steeple underneath.





Gas Illumination

We've written before about the gas illumination system installed in Holy Cross Church. The elaborate system of piping originated in the basement with the gas generating machine (from gasoline!) and the gaseous vapor was then pumped into the church. The remants of gas lights remain on each of the columns in the church, including the pipes to the rear lights under the choir loft, and two lights which flanked either side of the arch alongside the organ. Some of you may recall one of our organists sometimes hung his coat on one of the fixtures.

Gas Pipes for Illumination. This is the pipe to the entryway lighting which continues up into the choir loft.

Wall Insulation - 1948 Style


With plentiful, cheap energy, I suppose there was not too much concern for adequate insulation prior to the gasoline crisis. 

Our church has evidence of several kinds of insulation, the horse-hair connecting fibers added to the lathe plaster on the walls and the more contemporary wrappings around the serpentine air conditioner ducts in the ceiling. 

The funniest however, is the 1948 newspapers which were stuck under the window sill of the repair to one of the windows on Ward Avenue. It's possible they were left there as a time capsule, but more likely just something to fill part of the gaps which were left all around the window.

My dad read the New York Journal-American and the New York Herald-Tribune. I think we had the Journal American delivered by a paper boy for a while. Wikipedia, of course, details the travails of both papers and their demise in 1966.

We'll do some checking of the parish expense ledgers from 1948 and see if we can find the contractors and further details about the scope of their work. It could be the year the windows were all reset and the new layer of siding was affixed. Some parishioners might have pictures of the church from this period to help with this dating; let us know if you've got a documented exterior photo from the 40-50's and whether or not the original siding was in place at the time your photo was taken.

Stuffed away under Holy Cross window - 



Ward Avenue Windows

This the interior of the window on the northern side of the church entrance facing Ward Avenue. There is evidence of water infiltration around the flashing of the window, probably from some time after the new shingles were installed which required new flashing and caulking around the original window frames. The south Ward Avenue window showed signs of an interim repair inside the wall from similar water damage. Similar damage is seen around the window in the stairway to the choir loft.

Water Infiltration around Stained Glass Window facing Ward Avenue. Plastic sheeting protects the original stained glass which is still in place.

South window on Ward Avenue. Water infiltration and repair to the support beams and wall underneath the window.

Choirloft Stairway Window. Water infiltration around window.

Contractor for Original Holy Cross Church

We know from parish records that John Burke built the original Holy Cross Church and were surprised to discover that some of the wooden beams in the church are stenciled with his name. Remember that the church property was in the bounds of Seabright in the late 1800's and that our incorporated name is "The Church of the Holy Cross of Seabright, N.J."



Stenciling on Beam: John Burke, Sea Bright, NJ


The Nave of a Church

With the careful removal of the layers of plaster within the church, it's more obvious why the central aisle of the body of the church has been designated the nave. The word comes directly from Latin for "ship" and it was thought that the resemblance of the vaulting in the nave to a ship's hull gave use to the name.



Arch in Nave Just in Front of Choir Loft