The original St.Stephens church, with the foundation stone being laid on the 31st May 1858, was built between the 31st May 1858 and 13th May 1860 was a brick church building in the Gothic style with a square crenellated tower. The internal measurements were 55 feet in length by 35 feet in width exclusive of the vestry 10 feet square at one end and a tower at the other end of the same dimensions, serving as an entrance porch. The tower rose to a height of 45 feet. W Purves officiated at the first Sunday Service on the 30th May 1860 with church services continuing until 14th April 1938.
The church suffered in the great flood of 1893 and with the drift of the population to higher parts of East Maitland, a new church was built on higher ground at its current location, and opened on 16th July 1938.
Constructed in brick in a contemporary Gothic idiom, the building incorporates a square tower flanking the porch entrance. The dimesions were 77 feet in length by 41 feet wide. The bell in the tower came from the old Presbyterian church at Hinton, and is inscribed "The First Protestant church at Hinton. Robert Blain, Minister, 1849."
The Moderator Rev. E.N. McKie dedicated the building and commented during the dedication that "as we gather in a new church we are prompted to think of the reasons why we build churches and the methods by which we set about an important task."
The St. Stephen's Church Hall with the Foundation Stones being laid on 20th February 1926, was officially opened on the 31st July 1926 is still used today for Sunday School as well as for fundraising functions, Little Fish Playgroup and various meeting groups.
The organ standing elevated at the front of the building was built in 1897 by Charles Richardson, of Sydney, at a cost of £270. The consultant for the project was Mr Hadwen Chandler (organist of St Stephens Macquarie Street in Sydney), who also gave the opening recital.
The Organ was originally installed in the old St. Stephen's Church which was on the flood plain near Wallis Creek.
In 1938 the instrument was transferred to the new building which was purpose built for the Organ. When the Organ was installed in the Stephen's Church, it was assembled from the back to the front and access to the inner workings was via a small door at the back.
The instrument survives today totally intact at St. Stephen's Church, the only modification being the addition of electric blowing. All original pipework survives with cone-tuning preserved intact, all original console features have been preserved, the hand-blowing mechanism is still in place, the original actions are preserved, and the superb polished cedar case, with attractive stencilled patterns, has likewise not been altered: it makes the appearance of the organ instantly recognisable as the work of Charles Richardson. Unusual features of the organ are the octopod Swell division, with its collection of flute, string and reed tone colours, and the swell shutters which open at the rear of the enclosure. The preservation of this instrument, a rare and pristine example of its builder's work, is to be considered a priority.
The Organ, with its magnificent sound, is used every Sunday during the Church Service, and serves the purpose for which it was initially acquired, as an aid to worshipping Almighty God.
Future plans are to host organ recitals, however this will not be done until the Organ Restoration Project has been completed.
© 2017 Presbyterian Church of the Parish of East Maitland.