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Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge

Oak tree and church, on pre-1923 postcard

Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge is a historic church at 1 E. Oak Street in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. Its churchyard held the Old Oak Tree of Basking Ridge, estimated to be 600 years old, until 2017.[3][4]

Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge, NJ, south view.jpg
Church and oak tree to the right, in 2013
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge is located in Somerset County, New Jersey
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge is located in New Jersey
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge is located in the United States
Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge
Location1 E. Oak Street, Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Coordinates40°42′26″N 74°32′39″W / 40.70722°N 74.54417°W / 40.70722; -74.54417Coordinates: 40°42′26″N 74°32′39″W / 40.70722°N 74.54417°W / 40.70722; -74.54417
Area1.1 acres (0.45 ha)
Architectural styleGreek Revival
NRHP reference #74001190[1]
NJRHP #2470[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 31, 1974
Designated NJRHPOctober 24, 1974

The church congregation was founded in 1717. The present church was built in 1839 in Greek Revival style.[4]

Old Oak TreeEdit

600 year-old "Holy Oak", June 2016

In the historical graveyard of the church stood a White Oak, sometimes called the "Holy Oak", until 2017.[5] It was 600 years old, possibly the oldest white oak in the world.[5] It was nearly 100 feet (30 m) tall and had a spread of more than 130 feet (40 m).[6] It has a trunk circumference of 20 feet (6.1 m) and its lower branches were supported.

English evangelist George Whitfield and American clergyman James Davenport, preached under the tree on November 5, 1740 to a crowd of 3,000, in the First Great Awakening.[4][6]

George Washington's troops were drilled on the village green, within view, and Washington picnicked under the tree with the Marquis de LaFayette.[6]

The 5,500 French troops of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau marched by in 1781, on their route to Yorktown, Virginia and the decisive battle of the American Revolutionary War.[6]

In June 2016, the tree was "failing to thrive"[6] and showed signs of distress as its upper parts failed to sprout leaves.[5] By September 2016, the tree had died. [7][8][9][10][11][12][13] The tree was taken down over three days with the work finished on April 26, 2017.[3] A young white oak grown from an acorn of the old tree has been planted in the churchyard.[3]

The new biggest tree in New Jersey is identified as another white oak tree in the yard of the Sparta Historical Association of Sparta, New Jersey. [14]


The church building is 72 feet (22 m) by 46 feet (14 m), with a stone masonry foundation and red brick walls. The long side of the church has five windows 14 feet (4.3 m) tall and 5 feet (1.5 m) wide, with 30 over 30 over 30 glass panes in three sashes. As of 1974, much of the glass seemed to be original.[4]:2

The Historic American Buildings Survey inventoried the church in 1939.[4]:1

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Somerset County" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection - Historic Preservation Office. April 5, 2013. p. 1.
  3. ^ a b c AP (April 27, 2017). "600-year-old tree that witnessed history taken down". Fox News. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e William H. Felmeth (pastor), Herbert K. Ryder, Jr. (architect), and Arch W. Carswell (ex. President, Historical Society) (April 3, 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: The Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge". National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-06-28.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) with photo from 1973
  5. ^ a b c Magee Hickey (June 29, 2016). "Basking Ridge rallies behind 600-year-old white oak tree". Pix 11. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e Amy Ellis Nutt (June 27, 2016). "A town tries to care for, and let go of, its oldest resident — a 600-year-old oak". Washington Post. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  7. ^ "The oldest white oak tree in North America is on its last limbs". CBS News. September 16, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  8. ^ "Towering Oak Tree that Has Been Basking Ridge Landmark for Centuries Has Died". September 19, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  9. ^ "NJ town mourns loss of 600-year-old tree". CBS News. September 18, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016. (video story)
  10. ^ Pam Wright (September 19, 2016). "New Jersey Town Mourns Imminent Loss of North America's Oldest White Oak Tree". The Weather Channel. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  11. ^ Dave Hutchinson (September 20, 2016). "Church deciding how to memorialize 600-year-old white oak tree". Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  12. ^ Alexis Tarrazi (September 21, 2016). "Basking Ridge's 600 Year Old Ancient Tree Has Died". Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  13. ^ Dave Hutchinson (September 9, 2016). "600-year-old white oak appears to be nearing final days". Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  14. ^ Bruce A. Scruton (September 27, 2016). "The mighty oak is dead; long live the new big oak". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved October 6, 2016.