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St. Mary's Church History Timeline



July 1695

The ground upon which the Old Church sits was purchased by John Tatham, Edward Hunloke, Nathaniel Westland and others "for the Conveniency of a burying place for themselves and also for all other Christian people."


October 29, 1702

George Keith and John Talbot arrived at Burlington, in West Jersey.


November 1, 1702 (All Saints Day)

John Talbot preached for the first time in Burlington in the morning and George Keith in the afternoon at the Burlington Town-House. This is the first Anglican (Church of England) services in Burlington.


March 6, 1703

Parcel of land purchased at corner of Wood and Broad Streets for the erection of a church.


March 25, 1703 (Lady Day)

Corner-stone of "Old" St. Mary's Church was laid on the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mr. Talbot designated the building St. Mary’s, in her honor.


August 22, 1703

George Keith preached the first sermon in St. Mary's Church.


October 20, 1704

Church called St. Anne’s in the first charter granted by Lord Cornbury, after the name of the Queen; but when a more ample charter was granted on January 25, 1709, the church was called St. Mary’s. It was never legally St. Anne’s because the first charter was never passed.


January 25, 1709

Royal Charter incorporating St. Mary's Church is granted by Queen Anne, revoking earlier Charter of 1704.



The building which had fallen into a state of disrepair was repaired and enlarged to its present east-west length. A new bell was hung. Inscribed “St. Mary’s Church in Burlington 1769,” it still hangs in the present belfry of the church.



The Reverend Jonathan Odell, fifth Rector, flees Burlington as a Loyalist.   Regular services interrupted due to war.


May 1782

George Washington visits Continental Army Troops in Burlington, attends services at St. Mary's.



Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America is formed in Philadelphia.



Guild House on the corner of Talbot and West Broad Street built as the first Rectory.


December 20, 1799

The bell of St. Mary’s (still in use in the Old Church) tolled for the death of George Washington.



Robert Mills, architect engaged for renovations to "Old" Church; Apse added and the box pews were removed and replaced with straight pew seating.


Spring, 1816

A Sunday School was established in St. Mary's.  This was one of the first in the United States.



George Washington Doane elected second Bishop of New Jersey; offered rectorship of St. Mary's.



Isaac Holden of Philadelphia designs expansion of the "Old" Church, giving its present cruciform exterior design.


December 23, 1834

Old St. Mary’s was consecrated, some 130 years after being built.


November 17, 1846

The Corner-stone of New St. Mary's is laid.  Richard Upjohn was commissioned to build the "New" Church as the cathedral for the Diocese of New Jersey; first building in the United States based on a historic Gothic design.


August 10, 1854

New Church consecrated by Bishop Doane.


April 30, 1859

Some 3,000 people attend funeral services for Bishop Doane. His coffin was carried from his home “Riverside”, on the banks of the Delaware past the draped homes on Wood Street.


April 2, 1866

Bells of St. Mary's, which were cast in the Whitechapel Foundry in England and shipped to Burlington, are played for the first time.


November 8, 1873

Current rectory at 45 W. Broad Street purchased at public auction.


February 2, 1875

Bishop Scarborough consecrated fourth Bishop of New Jersey at St. Mary's.   "Old" Church restored.  The Reverend Dr. George Morgan Hills completes first edition of A History of the Church in Burlington.


March 21, 1880

St. Mary's witnesses formal installation of vested choir, believed to be first ceremony of its type in the United States.


June 17, 1883

The Lych Gate was dedicated as memorial to Stephen Germain Hewitt.



The Rood Screen was given to St. Mary’s.


March 1903

Parish celebrates 200th anniversary. The Lectern dedicated.



Bishop Matthews consecrated in St. Mary’s as the 5th Bishop of New Jersey.



Spring 1958

Guild House expanded with new classrooms and large meeting rooms.


April 15, 1976

Fire destroys the interior and badly damages the exterior of the "New" Church during Holy Week.


June 10, 1979

"New" Church reconsecrated by the Rt. Rev. Albert Van Duzer, eighth Bishop of New Jersey after restoration by architect Richard Murphy and The Rev. James J. Greene, 19th Rector.



St. Mary's designated a National Historic Landmark.


January 1996

St. Mary’s calls its 20th Rector, The Rev. J. Connor Haynes, SSC.



Work begins on a comprehensive restoration of Old St. Mary’s to preserve the structure and make it a usable ‘living” building again. It is used for summer worship services, meetings, community events such as recitals, plays or lectures, and as a museum space to display historical materials and artifacts.



St. Mary’s celebrates the 300th anniversary of its founding as a parish.