Home Lifestyle Inside the St. Matthew Trinity Center, A Hoboken Community Resource

Inside the St. Matthew Trinity Center, A Hoboken Community Resource

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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Tucked away right in the middle of the long stretch of Washington Street is a little oasis perfect for community gatherings, events, and program space. While the space at 798 Hudson Street has been in the community for decades, the St. Matthew Trinity Center in Hoboken had a major glow up over the past year. We sat down with Pastor of St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Gary LaCroy, Mark Singleton, Property Manager, and Courtney Kochuba, President of the Council to learn about the history of the center, how it is being used now, and plans for the future.

St. Matthew Trinity Center

(Photo credit: @stmatthewtrinity)

The History

St. Matthew Trinity

(Photo credit: Jennifer Nilsen Photography)

Decades ago, the center was built as a place for churchgoers to gather and for the community to spend time. Mark remembers visiting the center back in the 1970s as a teenager to play board games “it was a way to keep the youth off the street” he shares. The center has been used for all purposes from housing victims of fires in the 80s to a spot for the council of housing justice to meet. 

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At one point the center was a coffee house where hopeful musicians would come to play. However, Mark shares that the space, while used, was underutilized because it had become “dilapidated and run down.” After recognizing the lack of spaces for community gatherings in Hoboken and wanting to showcase a better-looking space on Washington Street, the church council decided it was time to start raising the funds for a total makeover.

Stepping Out on Faith

St. Matthew Trinity Center,

(Photo credit: @stmatthewtrinity)

Pastor Gary and Mark shared their confidence in the renovation project from the start, “We knew if we did it, the people would come,” said Mark. Also instrumental in making this process happen was Dan Stoll, Vice President of the church. “Hope, Healing, and Wholeness in the Heart of Hoboken” is the motto of the space. With this message, the plan is to welcome a diverse array of community events. 

The space is not intended for solely church events, despite being owned by the church. and the venue welcomes any group that would like to host either one-off or ongoing events. While the church is not the focus of the center, Pastor Gary did share how the mission of the church still shines through, “Our understanding of evangelism is not knocking down doors or strong-arming people. It’s feeding the poor, opening our facilities for people to use, giving away what we have, and we believe that is our strongest witness—how we take care of the most vulnerable in our community.”

The Renovation

St. Matthew Trinity

(Photo credit: Jennifer Nilsen Photography)

As the process to renovate the building began, they realized how disruptive it would be. Groups were already using the space and the tenants in the affordable housing above the center had to be placed in alternate housing. In addition to those who were physically in the space, the building itself was in very bad shape and needed more work than expected. 

With the help of architect Rob Hegedus, Douglas Contracting, and interior designer Reni Stoll, the team received the go-ahead for the dream space and approval from the Hoboken Historic Preservation Commission to move forward. During the work, the Hoboken Historic Preservation Council recognized the project with an award for design excellence, based on keeping the integrity of the structure while updating it. Through the support of the congregation, the city, and the community at large, the renovation was made possible.

How The Space is Used

St. Matthew Trinity Center

(Photo credit: @stmatthewtrinity)

On any given day a variety of groups can be found using this space on Washington Street. Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, toddler music groups, and playgroups take over the space during different hours of the day. 

Pastor Gary shared that in his 31 years of ministry, his three years here in Hoboken with SMT, and the way the center is set up allows for those visiting the space for recovery purposes to feel just as welcome as others walking in for a different event. 

“Usually, space for these programs is tucked away and down a flight of stairs. The sense I got from this congregation is that we treat our homeless people, hungry people, and recovery groups like they really are guests. We want them to have first-class accommodations.” As time goes on and more groups are comfortable with in-person meetings, the SMT Center can be used for open mic nights, baby and bridal showers, yoga/ meditation classes, and more.

Renting the Space

St. Matthew Trinity Center

(Photo credit: @stmatthewtrinity)

For those interested in renting the SMT Center, Mark is the best point of contact. He can be reached via email at office@StMatthewTrinity.org or by phone at 201-659-499.

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There is a two-tiered pricing system separated by for-profit and non-profit organizations with a rate of $50-$75 per hour for the former and $25 per hour for the latter. 

Guests are allowed to bring their own music, food, décor, and set-up. There is a no-alcohol policy that guests should be respectful of. The building is handicap accessible and equipped with high-end technology for sound and screen sharing. 


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