In a community that has been often plagued by floodwaters of the swelling Raritan River and its tributaries, Bound Brook, New Jersey is rich in heritage and architecture. Up quite a few blocks from the historic downtown is an imposing church edifice known as the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church. Its tall steeple reaches for the heavens, constructed at a time when elaborate churches were commonplace and all extravagances were included to show off the devotion of its congregation. Over one hundred years later, the church still stands proud amidst a large restoration project to return this beloved but weathered church to its original state of opulence.
Tradition states that a church congregation at Bound Brook was established as early as 1688 by Covenanters. The Covenanters were first formed as a congregation in the dark dungeons of Dunnottar Castle in seventeenth century Scotland. This small group of 167 men and women, called “Covenanters,” for their support of covenant agreements intended to defend and extend Presbyterianism, were persecuted for their beliefs and imprisoned in the Castle. As part of a plan to settle East Jersey in the New World, the prisoners were freed and arrived in Perth Amboy in December, 1685. The Covenanters were the most determined of the Scotch Presbyterians whose religious philosophy was based upon the principles of the Celtic Church. Upon arriving, they were not welcomed by the coastal residents, but a small number were warmly received in Woodbridge. These early settlers made their way out toward Piscataway and what would become Bound Brook along the new road that followed the Raritan River. In 1688, Bound Brook existed more as a location than as a village. There were only four homes at the time. The lands encompassing Bound Brook were purchased from the Raritan Indians. As settlement increased, the Covenanters encouraged others to join their gathering, which would have most likely been held in members’ homes or in a temporary log building constructed just for the purpose of services.
In 1725, the first documented church building was built. The building held one hundred pews and was built in the style of a meeting place rather than a formal church building. It was located on Main Street near East Street, in Bound Brook.