Another recent large-scale community projects financed by the Snyder Foundation was the preservation and restoration of Old First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, which dates back some 350 years. The church, a prominent and enduring historic landmark originally founded in 1664 as a meeting house by Puritan settlers from New England and Long Island, is the first English-speaking church in the State of New Jersey and one of the very first in the entire nation. It has played a significant role in the historic development of the region and the nation. It has endured many milestones of history and still stands as a lasting testament to a legacy of nation-building. Today, it continues to actively serve the vital needs of the community, including preserving historic milestones and archives, as well as providing food, refuge, and support meetings for the less fortunate and underserved.
The church has receives nearly $5 million in funding from the Snyder Foundation over the past 5 years for much needed restoration and maintenance efforts. The Snyder Foundation’s generous gifts helped cover the much needed renovations to the Church’s main building, parish house, and historic cemetery, which houses more than 2,200 headstones, dating back to 1668. The most recent restoration projects, funded by a $1-million Snyder Foundation grant, involved the mounting of a brand new 27-ton steeple to the summit of the main building, to replace the former historic steeple torn down by a tornado in 1889. In addition, a portion of this funding will be used to help reclaim the Church’s and the region’s rich historic and cultural heritage by developing and maintaining a comprehensive library and archive on Church grounds. Meanwhile, the critical structural improvements are helping enhance the church’s ability to continue serving the inner city’s burgeoning needs and remain a safe haven for the community’s less fortunate. All restoration and maintenance efforts are expected to be completed in 2012.