Original Brick St. Patrick`s Church (Later St. Peter & Paul)
on Bayard Street built in 1831
St. Peter the Apostle Parish, New Brunswick (1829)
The first recorded visit of a Catholic priest to New Brunswick occurred in 1825 when a catholic priest traveling from New York to Philadelphia stopped to visit a catholic family there. That same year, Father John Powers, a priest of the Diocese of New York, came and celebrated mass; first in a private home and then in a large room over a wheelwrights shop on George Street. The then Bishop of New York, John Dubios sent Father Joseph Schneller, a priest at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street in New York to visit New Brunswick on an itinerate basis.
Bishop Dubois erected Ss. Peter & Paul Parish in 1829 and a simple brick church was built on Bayard Street in New Brunswick in 1831. Father John Rodgers, an Irish immigrant, was sent as the first resident pastor in 1845. Repairs and an expansion to the Bayard Street church were done in 1847. During Father Rodger’s time (1845-1887), St. Peter’s became the “Mother Church” with missions throughout Middlesex and Somerset Counties and a catholic school was established (1846).
Property was purchased for a new and larger church on Somerset Street across from Old Queens College (1853). The Diocese of Newark was established in 1853 and a well known architect, Patrick Charles Keely (1816-1896) was commissioned to design a new “cathedral”. This Church was built from 1854 through 1865 and the cornerstone was laid upon the completion of the lower church in 1856. The Sisters of Charity of Convent Station were invited to staff the school (1867) and a convent was constructed for the sisters on one side of the new church and on the other side property to use as a rectory and the original St. Peter’ Hospital opened farther down Somerset Street. Over the course of time many changes and additions were made to the parish; 1897 additions to the convent; and 1891 a new sacristy. A new school was built by St. Peter’s Hospital on Somerset Street (1892), new marble altars were placed in the church (1919), the Lyceum was constructed next to the rectory (1920).
The present windows and pews were installed (1951) and the present elementary school and gym was built next to the 1892 school (Columbia Hall) in 1960. The renovations of the church to meet the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council were completed (1965) and Columbia Hall was demolished and the present High School was built (1970). The late 1970’s saw the painting of the inside of the church and the construction of a mausoleum in the cemetery. In 1991 the basement church was converted to a parish hall and the Lyceum was renovated. In 2005 the Church, Rectory and Convent were placed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The parish recently celebrated the 175th anniversary of the parish (2004) and the 150th anniversary of the laying of the church corner stone (2006).