Early in 1872 a small chapel was built in the style made popular by R.W. Upjohn, a noted architect of small church buildings at the time. The chapel adjoined a day school that had been founded by Fanny Monroe Robinson.  On May 1st of 1872 the chapel was consecrated as a mission by the Rt. Reverend William H. Odenheimer, Bishop of New Jersey (later the Diocese of Newark.) The name, Holy Innocents, was chosen in memory of Fanny Monroe Robinson’s daughter who died as an infant.

In July, 1877 the chapel began a journey from Ridge Road to its present location on Prospect Ave. It was left in the road for several weeks due to a labor dispute, but finally arrived at the end of August, 1877.

Historic church

Church in 1910

The mission was closed several times in the ensuing years as a result of insufficient finances and low membership until a restoration committee reopened the mission in May of 1910. Only one more closing occurred thereafter for a period of six months due to to the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic. From 1920 through 1935 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Ralph Brouwer Pomeroy, the mission experienced a period of growth and stability during which stained glass windows were donated, additional land was acquired and a grave yard was established. The altar was dedicated in memory of Mrs. Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, the daughter-in-law of Fanny Monroe Robinson, younger sister of President Theodore Roosevelt and the aunt of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Early churchIn the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the undercroft was built with rooms for Sunday School and construction on the rectory was begun.  Rev. Trevor Thomas was appointed full time rector and in 1952, the mission became a parish of the Diocese of Newark. By the early 1960’s Holy Innocents had 350 baptized members.

Trevor Thomas

Bishop Stark with Rev. Trevor Thomas

Rev. Thomas retired in 1988 and Rev. Abigail Hamilton was elected rector. Rite II of the 1979 prayer book was introduced, the Wednesday Group came into being, the altar was moved forward, the memorial garden was established and the altar windows were completed by Whippell’s in London.

Following the retirement of Rev. Hamilton in 2005, the Rev. Fairbairn Powers became an interim priest.  She created a new committee structure, launched the CHI website, and computerized the finances.

Rev. Martha Metzler was appointed Priest-in-Charge in 2010.  She  helped parishioners define the mission of Holy Innocents, established TGIF events, significantly improved the landscaping and gardening around the church, graveyard and rectory and oversaw major repairs to the undercroft.

In February of 2013 following the departure of Rev. Metzler, Rev. Margaret Tuttle led the church for the remainder of the year before leaving to become Assistant Rector at St. John’s in the Village in New York. In the spring of that same year, our long term organist, Ann Reiners, notified the church that she was retiring and moving to Hawaii. Before she left, she suggested that we contact Gretchen Bilson-Chiverton who agreed to come to Holy Innocents in June and immediately began building the choir.

In January of 2014, Holy Innocents welcomed Rev. Anne Bolles-Beaven as a long-term supply priest. On January 1, 2016 Rev. Anne became the Priest-in-Residence at Holy Innocents Church. Under the leadership of Rev. Anne and with the musical direction of Gretchen as our organist and choir master, Holy Innocents has flourished. The choir has grown in size from a few to approximately 20 members with instrumental accompaniment. The congregation continues to grow along with the Sunday School.