About Old School Baptist Meetinghouse

Who we are and our remarkable history

The Old School Baptist Church and cemetery of Hopewell was established at this site in 1747 with the construction of the first church and layout of the cemetery on land donated by John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1822, the original church was replaced with the extant church in the same location. With few exceptions, the extant church remains intact, maintaining much of its original character-defining features on both the interior and exterior.

The cemetery, whose earliest grave marker dates to 1749 expanded over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, with its final expansion, completed in 1912. It maintains its grided layout and landscape, uninfluenced and unchanged by the popular trends typical of the 19th and 20th century cemetery landscape design. Additionally, there are resources, specifically grave markers, that are significant for their artistic value.

Into the 1900s, the congregation began to decline and ultimately the church closed in 1974; today it is operated as a museum by the Board of Trustees, who maintain and preserve the district. Special events such as educational programming, historical tours, community events & activities are held, and occasional burials are currently still allowed for people associated with the congregation.

The Old School Baptist Church and cemetery of Hopewell was established at this site in 1747 with the construction of the first church and layout of the cemetery on land donated by John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1822, the original church was replaced with the extant church in the same location. With few exceptions, the extant church remains intact, maintaining much of its original character-defining features on both the interior and exterior.

The cemetery, whose earliest grave marker dates to 1749 expanded over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, with its final expansion, completed in 1912. It maintains its grided layout and landscape, uninfluenced and unchanged by the popular trends typical of the 19th and 20th century cemetery landscape design. Additionally, there are resources, specifically grave markers, that are significant for their artistic value.

Into the 1900s, the congregation began to decline and ultimately the church closed in 1974; today it is operated as a museum by the Board of Trustees, who maintain and preserve the district. Special events such as educational programming, historical tours, community events & activities are held, and occasional burials are currently still allowed for people associated with the congregation.

Our Mission

Mission & values

The mission of the HOSBM is the preservation and restoration of the historic church and cemetery grounds. Our vision is to achieve a strong, stable financial future through funding, grants, and educational programming, and provide a community space that better serves the public.

Our History

Learn about the history that has defined who we are

The Old School Baptist Meetinghouse and its adjoining cemetery occupy an open tract of land in the middle of the developed village of Hopewell Borough.  This distinctive brick meeting house is one of the most prominent historic structures in the town. The building is remarkable for its historic integrity having been little altered on the exterior or interior since its construction in 1822. The cemetery contains graves from some of the most prominent families in the part of Mercer County, both white settlers and African Americans, as well as memorials to historical figures like John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence. The decorative wrought and cast-iron fence from the 1870’s encompassing the graveyard is a prominent feature along Broad Street, the main thoroughfare of town.

1715

The Beginning

The second oldest Old School Baptist church in America. The Congregation of Hopewell was constituted  at the home of Joseph Stout on April 23, 1715. The congregation consisted of 12 members: Hannah Stout, Rachel Hyde, Mary Drake, Ann Stout, Ruth Stout, Jonathan Stout, Joseph Stout, Ann Curtis, Thomas Curtis, Sara Fitzrandolph, Benjamin Drake.

1747

Building a Church

 A stone meeting house was built on land at this site donated by John Hart. According to the church records, preserved in their original form since the church’s constitution , the church property was donated by John Hart, and the charter from England’s King George III, was obtained by him. Hart also became a signer of the Declaration of Independence and is buried in the church cemetery.

1822

New Meetinghouse

Demolition of the original church and new construction began. It is believed that the new structure sits on the same site as the original church building. The current brick building together with its extensive graveyard is one o the most historic sites in the Hopewell Valley. The Baptist Church was erected using brick fired by Esquire David Stout, the same as used by Mr. Stout to build a new section on his father’s house at Amwell Road (recently opened as The Brick Farm Tavern).

1963-1974

Decline and closing of the Church

With the creation of the other churches in Hopewell, membership declined and the membership aged. 1963 was the last recorded Baptism performed at the Church.  The church closed to services in 1974 when the last remaining member of the congregation passed away. The Church was served by 13 Pastors from 1715 to February 1974. Six pastors are buried in the adjoining cemetery. Rev. Eaton’s stone is on the East side of the Church and it is widely believed that his remains are buried under the actual church.

Hopewell Valley Historical Society Newsletter provides a deeper dive into the history of the Old School Baptist Meetinghouse

Learn more about Hopewell Borough, the home of the historic Old School Baptist Meetinghouse

Below is a link to help you search and find a grave in the Old School Baptist Meetinghouse Cemetery.