History

The earliest recorded reference to Springdale Church is a deed recorded in 1839, which refers to a parcel of land recently conveyed to the “Methodist Church in Washington Valley.” The congregation at that time was affiliated with the Methodist Protestant Church, a denomination that had separated from the Methodist Episcopal Church over the questions of bishops’ authority and lay representation in governance.

Some of the early family names in the church were Waldron, Winans, Lawler, Mundy.

A reliable nineteenth century history records that the church building was erected in 1840 or 1841; it was certainly in place by 1850, as a map of that year shows it. The building was enlarged by the addition of a rectangular pulpit space in 1894 and the addition of a small bell tower in the front in 1904. The bell is still used every Sunday.

In 1857 the church joined the Methodist Episcopal denomination, and for many years it was part of a circuit of three churches served by a single minister. The name was changed from Washington Valley to Springdale about 1874. Warren Township is very large, covering almost twenty square miles, and various areas within it came to be known by distinct names. Springdale derived its name from a strong spring that was a reliable water source.

As late as the 1950s the church building had no water or indoor plumbing. In 1957 the men of the church hand dug a basement under the structure to add meeting space and a bathroom. In the 1960s, needing yet additional space, the congregation bought adjacent property and turned an existing truck garage into an Educational Building. This move insured that the original church building would remain unaltered. It is unusual for a church so small in structural size and so old to not be changed. Usually such buildings are added onto or are torn down and completely replaced as the congregations increase. In addition, Springdale still has its horse shed, erected to shelter the preacher’s horse. Very few such out buildings remain in Somerset County; the shed was restored in 1996. The church has received a historic preservation award from the Somerset County Historical and Cultural Commission for its historic preservation efforts.

In 1995 a book A History of Springdale United Methodist Church was published. It contains considerable historical detail and a complete cemetery list. Erica Horster, (732) 356-3695, has information about obtaining copies.

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