The Trinity Church has a long and storied history that spans three buildings and over 300 years in Woodbridge. Just down Rahway Avenue from the church, the Barron Arts Center is celebrating with an exhibit featuring photographs, artwork, and artifacts from Trinity Church’s collection.
The exhibit, which runs until June 5th, is part of an anniversary celebration for the church, which has been in its currently building for 150 years.
“The exhibit was mainly put together by Martha Webb, who is probably one of our oldest parishioners,” said Father Robert Counselman of the Trinity Church. “Or at least, the one with the best memory. She remembers quite a bit of what’s happened here.”
Included in the exhibit are newspaper articles on the church from a variety of different publications and decades, photographs, artist renderings of the church, and even a section of a quilt that depicts the exterior of the church.
One of the more interesting parts of the exhibit links President Barack Obama’s family tree with Woodbridge. Obama’s 8th great grandfather on his mother’s side of the family was Jonathan Singletary (alias Dunham), born in January of 1640 in Newbury, Massachusetts and died in Woodbridge in September of 1724. His son Benjamin Dunham – Obama’s 7th great grandfather, and one of the founders of the Trinity Church – was born in Woodbridge in January of 1709. The Woodbridge connection extends down to Obama’s 5th great grandfather, Samuel Dunham, who was born in Woodbridge in May, 1742 and died in Berkeley County, Virginia (in what is now West Virginia) in 1824. The original Jonathan Dunham house serves as the rectory for the church today.
“We have an obligation towards historic preservation,” said Cynthia Knight, director of the Barron Arts Center, of the Trinity Church exhibit. “Each year, I try to have at least one exhibit, if not more, with a historical theme,” with this year’s celebrating the church’s 150th year in it’s current building.
The church’s second building burnt to the ground in 1858 after standing for 102 years, the result of a chimney fire. Three years later, the current building was consecrated, and has remained largely unchanged since. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
“We have a historic row in place,” said Knight of the Trinity Church, the First Presbyterian (Old White) Church, and the Barron Arts Center, all of which are on the National Register and reside in a row on Rahway Ave.