FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
OF WOODBURY HEIGHTS
More history


​'For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.'
-- Romans 15:4
The striking design of our church sanctuary was chosen in an attempt to attract young families who were flocking to Woodbury Heights 60 years ago. 
Photos: Barrie Dawson
A bigger, better church takes shape:
The bond burning of Jan. 9, 1983

      Editor's note: This account is taken from a church history written in the
1980s by C.J. Ulzheimer.

     There are some things you may be wondering ... why we needed a new church 
building in the first place; why did we build such a tall, modern church, unlike the 
original building; and how did we finance it? 
     Back in the 1950s, the population in this area was growing by leaps and bounds. The 
farms and wooded areas of Woodbury Heights, now known as the Summit, Southwoods 
and Southwoods East were rapidly being developed and homes were being built here 
and in Oak Valley and Greenfield Village. 
     Many of the families moving in were young people with children. The changes made 
our Sunday School the fastest growing school in the presbytery. Our new education
and recreation building had already become overcrowded. Sunday School classes were 
being held downstairs in the old church. Upstairs, seven classes were being held in the church pews, in the choir seats and in the adjacent room, now known as the choir room.
     In the education building all downstairs and upstairs rooms were full, including what is now considered the closet area. The older children met in the manse, the youngest met in the old building that was on the site of our (current) church.
     For Sunday services, the church, including the adjacent room with sliding doors, held about 150 people. It was often crowded and for a while two Sunday services were held. At Christmas and Easter, chairs were put in the aisles and in the vestibule.
     Thus it was reasoned that if a new, larger church was built, the old church could be converted to Sunday School rooms.
This the congregation decided to do, in spite of some objections to the destruction of the original historic building, which was on the site. 
     This building was originally built as the town hall. Later, it was used as a public school, for religious meetings and for many years some of the town fire equipment was housed in the rear part of the building. Still later, it was also used as a recreation center, where dancing was permitted, since dancing was not allowed in the main church building.
     In an attempt to preserve the historic building, we offered to give it away if it was removed to another site. There were no takers, and the building was later demolished. A model of this old building, along with pictures and slides, have been shown upstairs during coffee hour.
     Oran Thomas, a local architect specializing in church buildings, designed the current church, the matching front on the old church and the connecting archway. Several colonial designs similar to the old church were considered, but their cost would have been much higher and they would not have harmonized with the existing education building.
     The present building, with its high-pitched roof pointing to the heavens, was selected for cost considerations and because it was believed its modern design would attract more of the young people moving into the area.
     The church construction was started in 1960. It was financed by donations, by the sale of $15,000 in bonds sold at an interest rate of 4 1/2 percent and a construction and demand loan from the bank. The Wells Org., a commercial fund-raising company, was hired to help us obtain pledges. 
     The cost of the church was about $86,000. The original demand note was converted to a conventional mortgage in 1964. This amount was for $72,000. The interest rate was 5 percent. This mortgage was completely paid off last year (1982) and the bond will be burned today.
C. J. Ulzheimer