Annandale, New Jersey History
National Register of Historic Places
Continuation SheetSection Number 7 Page 1
The village of Annandale is located in north central Hunterdon County, just northeast of the intersection of Interstate Route 78 and State Route 31. It is situated near the northern edge of the Piedmont geographical province in a broad rolling valley drained by the South Branch of the Raritan River and its tributaries. The village occupies a level upland to the north of Beaver Brook, one of the South Branch tributaries. The community encompasses several rectilinearly platted blocks between Beaver Avenue, which follows the route of the old New Jersey Turnpike, and the former Jersey Central Railroad main line (now Conrail) about one quarter mile to the north. Annandale is largely residential but includes a number of commercial and institutional uses. While some agricultural land remains on the north side of the village, elsewhere its environs are characterized by modern commercial and residential development interspersed with woods and pockets of vacant land.
The Annandale Historic District encompasses almost the entire village, including some open land appurtenant to district dwellings and one adjoining farmstead on the north, but excludes the modern dwellings and commercial development bordering on its west and east sides. An inventory of all the district's resources forms part of this section, and the resources are categorized as "contributing" or "non-contributing" to the district's historical significance. Of the 192 contributing resources, 110 are 19th buildings, 81 are early 20th-century buildings, and one is a 19th-century object, a hitching post. There are sixty-three non-contributing resources: fifty-eight 20th-century buildings (many of which are modern garages and sheds), four 19th-century buildings, and one modern structure, a gazebo.
The district contains 147 principal buildings, a majority of which are dwellings, with attendant outbuildings. The district's buildings are, for the most part, frame, gable-roofed, vernacular structures of moderate size, that date from c. 1860 to c. 1928 and exhibit stylistic embellishment typical of that era. There are, however, a number of earlier and later structures, a few buildings of masonry construction, and several dozen with hip, flat, or mansard roofs. Many have been enlarged and remodeled over the years. Modern improvements, while resulting in the loss or obscuring of early fabric and detailing in some cases, have been neither numerous nor disfiguring enough to mar the historic architectural character of the district. While the majority of buildings are in good condition and well maintained, several buildings evidence neglect and deterioration.
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In general, district buildings are rather closely spaced on lots of small or moderate size and face the street with fairly short setbacks. While a rather tight streetscape prevails throughout much of the village, particularly on portions of Main, Center, and East Streets, in a few areas, most notably along the west side of Maple Avenue, the north side of Main Street, and parts of Beaver Avenue and West Street, houses are more widely spaced on larger lots, creating a more open, suburban character. Several dwellings, including two earlier farmhouses, were built perpendicularly to the road for a southern exposure, an orientation characteristic of the region's early architecture. Fences and hedges delineate a few village properties, and yards generally are landscaped and well kept. Slate and concrete sidewalks are found throughout most of the district, and more often than not deciduous trees shade the streets.
Annandale's architecture includes many of the building types which characterized the region's growing towns and villages in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A sizable number of the district's dwellings are the traditional, two-story, gable-roofed house types with single-pile or double-pile plans, regular facades of three-to-five bays, and interior gable-end chimneys. Ubiquitous in northwestern New Jersey's 18th and early 19th century housing stock, such dwellings (at least the simpler forms) remained fairly common in the late 1800s, but disappeared from the local building vocabulary after 1900. Examples with single pile, one or two-room plans (the traditional I-type) are most numerous and include #s 14, 18, 19, 22, 23, 78, 81, 86, 115, 117, 124, and 134. (Photo #s 3 & 33) Much less common are single-pile, side-hall and center-hall plan houses, such as #s 33, 56, 73, 79, 107, 114 and 121. (Photo #s 29) Several double-pile, side-hall and center-all plan houses are also present in the district, including #s 70, 76, 93, 96, and 104, all of which have flat or low-pitched hip roofs, mansard-roofed #94, cross-gabIe-roofed #92 and one duplex #11. (Photo #s 21-23) While falling out of favor by the middle decades of the 19th century, traditional 1 1/2-story houses were prevalent in the area at an early date. Annandale has one single-pile example, #62, which may date c. 1830-60.
The popular house types constitute a larger part of the district's housing stock. Most common in Annandale is the gable-fronted, 2-story type built in the region's towns and villages with some frequency in the second half of the 19th century.
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Annandale possesses significance in the areas of architecture, industry, and commerce. The district has architectural significance as an assemblage of mostly late 19th/early 20th-century buildings whose construction, form, detailing, and spatial organization are representative of the region's vernacular architecture in that era. Annandale's industrial significance stems from its creamery, one of the first in Hunterdon County, which was established in the 1880s. The village also possesses commercial significance because of its stores, hotel, and lumber yard (the latter perhaps the oldest lumber business extant in Hunterdon County), physical documents of the important economic and social roles of such establishments in the development of a late 19th-century rural service community.
Annandale owes its existence to the construction of the main line of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the first railroad to penetrate northern Hunterdon County, in the early 1850s and the selection of its farmland site for a station to serve the nearby village of Clinton, itself the service center for a fertile agricultural district. Upon the completion of the railroad in 1852, a station, tavern, and general store were built at what was first called Clinton Station, forming the nucleus around which a thriving village developed over the course of next several decades. Clinton Station, renamed Annandale in 1871, soon acquired an important economic role as the local center for shipping agricultural and other products, most notably lime, milk, coal, lumber, and peaches, and as a rural service center rivaling Clinton. The community's rail connections encouraged the establishment of such enterprises as a lumber yard and cheese factory, and later a creamery and peach exchange. Although it never became a manufacturing center or surpassed Clinton as a commercial ce~ter, Annandale retained its role as a local shipping center into the early 20th century and experienced modest residential development throughout the period. The subsequent decline of the railroad, however, brought an end to the community's importance as a shipping center, and the village has experienced little growth since the 1920s until recent years.
As a result Annandale has managed to preserve much of its late 19th/early 20th-century character despite the loss of its freight and passenger stations. A majority of the district's buildings were erected c. 1860-1928, although several are somewhat earlier or later. The distinctive historical character of the village results from the survival of these buildings and their linear organization with varied spacing and setback along often tree-lined streets. These resources --mostly dwellings with attendant outbuildings, but
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including a number of industrial, commercial and institutional. structures-- are in general well preserved and exhibit relatively few modern alterations. Collectively they possess architectural significance. Their form, construction, detailing, and siting provide a representative illustration of the rural region's essentially vernacular architecture in the late 19th/early 20th-century period, the time when local building traditions were supplanted by those associated with the national culture. The influence of popular architectural styles is readily apparent in the design and/or detailing of many district buildings. For example, houses like #s 10, 14, 26, 28, 30, 31, 47, 54, 61, 79,92,96, 101, 124, 126 and 131 are essentially vernacular structures of traditional or popular type embellished with Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman and/or other of the styles current in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The district's commercial buildings (#s 16, 88, and 90, for example) similarly reveal a variety of stylistic detailing; of particular note among them is #97, one of the district's earliest buildings, which retains its original store front and exhibits a combination of Italianate and Gothic Revival detailing. The late 19th/early 20th-century lumber sheds at the lumber yard (#91) across Main Street are also of interest as rare survivors of such utilitarian structures.
Before the completion of the main line of the Central Railroad of New Jersey early in the summer of 1852 the site of what became Annandale was occupied by three farms (owned by "the widow of Peter Young, the widow Jane Hoffman, and John H. Cregar") with a district school house on the corner of the old New Jersey Turnpike (the region's major east/west artery) and the township road which became West Street and to the south on Beaver Brook small grist and saw mills owned by the Hoffman family. The site was chosen for a station to serve the nearby village of Clinton no doubt because of its location (the closest point on the line to the latter place which is a little Jess than two miles to the west along the turnpike). The railroad was finished as far west as Clinton Station in May, 1852, and train service from there to New York began at that time; passenger service along the completed line from New York to Easton, Pennsylvania commenced early in July of that year.
According to the 1881 county history, the community was founded by several men who relocated from White House, a small village and railroad stop some miles to the east; they were
N. N. Boeman, a tavern keeper at White House,
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George M. Frech, the station-agent at that point,
Jacob Young, a merchant, and James Kenna and
Thomas Kinney, railroad employees.
Boeman, who acquired a .43-acre parcel from the heirs of Peter Young in July, 1852, is credited with the purchase of the first village lot. He erected a tavern on the lot which survives today as the former Annandale Hotel (#98). The store/residence next door (#97) was evidently built shortly thereafter. The property was purchased by Jacob S. Young and Jacob P. Finley in 1853, and a deed for its sale in the following year describes it as "the lot and premises now occupied by Young and Finley with their dry goods store." George M. Frech, who was appointed railroad agent, lived in the passenger station which was erected in 1852. A post office was established in 1859 with merchant Theodore H. Risler as first postmaster. The 1860 Clinton Township farm map indicates that, in addition to the station, hotel, and store, the nascent community had acquired a lumber yard and hardware store (#91), a grain warehouse, and about a dozen dwellings clustered along the road to the station (Main Street) and the turnpike. By that year Centre Street also had been opened, but the new street and West Street remained undeveloped, except for an earlier farmhouse (#82) on the latter road.
Growth quickened in the following decade, as building lots were subdivided along Main, West, and Centre Streets and residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial development occurred. Over forty houses were built between 1860 and 1873, including a number of quite substantial dwellings on Main and West Streets and two more modest houses on East Street which was opened by 1871. Two new stores were erected in 1870 and 1873 (the first, #16, a general store, and the second, '84, a tobacco and cigar shop), and a number of artisans, including two blacksmiths, two shoe makers, and a carpet weaver, established shops. A frame 3-story public hall with a seating capacity of about 250 was built on Main Street in 1865; it became the property of the local school district four years later, replacing the school house on the turnpike corner, but continued o be used by fraternal organizations and for public meetings and social events. A Reformed Protestant Dutch congregation was organized in 1866 and erected its substantial church (#68) in 1868. An 1869 newspaper advertisement indicates that there was a brick kiln at Clinton Station at that time. and the 1873 county atlas depicts three limestone quarry/kiln operations along Beaver Brook. By 1871, the year that the community was renamed Annandale, a planning mill which made "window frames, doors, sashes,
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blinds. and moldings" was operating in conjunction with the lumber yard, and by the following year the village had acquired a small carriage works and a cheese factory (#147). The former, developed in conjunction with a blacksmith shop on West Street, no doubt served a primarily local clientele; the latter, established by Julius Wettstein, who advertized in the 1873 county atlas "as the producer of the Celebrated French Cream Cheese..... Bondons de Newfchatel, Fromage de bois, Camemberts, etc." presumably had a wider market.
Although it never surpassed Clinton, Annandale continued to grow modestly in the 1880s and 1890s. The importance of tfie railroad to local agricultural and business interests and the community's prominent role as a local shipping center at that time is clear from the 1881 county history which noted that
Lime-kilns in the vicinity supply the country round about and furnish annually 200 cars of lime. The railway shipments of milk average annually eighty cans per day, while the receipts by rail of lumber, coal, and malt amount to a handsome exhibit.
While the cheese factory eventually went out business (and was converted into a dwelling), it was succeeded by a creamery (#83), one of the first in Hunterdon County, established during the 1880s along the railroad tracks west of the depot. As peaches became an important local crop, Annandale emerged as a shipping center for the highly perishable fruit, which according to an 1885 state business directory, had become the principal product shipped from that point. In 1890, local growers organized a peach exchange at Annandale; its auctions were held in a small building at the lumber yard. The village acquired another store (#69) in 1886; built by Jacob F. Fox next to the church, it was successively enlarged as his business expanded, developing into what was described, no doubt with some hyperbole, as a "veritable department store such as may be seen in the great cities with an emphasis on furniture. The hotel (#64) also was enlarged in the late 19th century, and an insurance agency was established, occupying a small mansard-roofed office on West Street in 1886.
Census data and directories reveal that the population of late 19th-century Annandale, which numbered several hundred, was occupationally diversified with a variety of workers, artisans, business
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men, and professionals. Residents' occupations during the period included merchants, laborers, carpenters, quarry workers and stone masons, shoemakers, carriage and wagon makers, a lawyer, doctor, school teacher, clergyman, telegraph operator, station agent, insurance agent, grocer, drover, huckster, and a "whip seller".
Village streets must have been improved by the installation of plank sidewalks at a fairly early date since, in 1874, the Clinton newspaper noted that "new sidewalks are being laid with the best timber on the principal streets." Plank walks eventually were replaced by flagstone like those laid around the hotel in 1897. A noted improvement, not shared by many rural villages, was the creation of a water supply system in the late 1800s by the Clinton Water Company; pipes were laid in the streets of Annandale during the summer of 1897, fed by gravity from a reservoir to the north near Petticoat Lane. A fire company was formed in 1896, housed in a small building (#59) remodeled from or replacing a shop on West Street.
The 1886 bird-eye view indicates that since 1873 about one dozen houses had been built around the village. After about 1890, and especially in the first decades of this century development was concentrated on the south and west sides of the community. A substantial new school house (#43) was erected in 1888 on the southern edge of the village. Maple Avenue was laid out in 1896 by Jacob Fox on land purchased from George Cregar; in the following year he began construction of a house (evidently #13) on the corner of the new street and Beaver Avenue which upon completion was described as the most attractive and best appointed dwelling in town." A number of substantial houses were subsequently erected on Maple and Beaver Avenues, as well as some more modest bungalows. No doubt in response to increasing automobile and truck traffic through the village on Beaver Avenue, the old turnpike which was eventually improved, paved, and incorporated into the new state highway system, two automobile service garages (#s 32 & 36) and a general store (#37) were built there around World War I and later. In 1928 a brick school building (#39) of progressive modern design was constructed on the new Allerton Road.
While peach growing in Hunterdon County declined rapidly in the early 20th century, Annandale still remained an important shipping center for the crop (the "general market place" according to a 1918 industrial directory); within a few years, however, the peach exchange was discontinued as peach growing became an insignificance
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local crop. The creamery continued to operate into the Depression era, but eventually went out of business as farmers switched to selling milk to large dairies which used truck transportation. Freight and passenger traffic declined on the railroad, as motor vehicle traffic increased; the freight station was removed sometime in mid century, while the underutilized passenger station survived until recently. As local residents could easily travel elsewhere to shop, Annandale's general stores closed, leaving only the one on Beaver Avenue still open. The hotel also closed and was converted into apartments. Of Annandale's 19th-century enterprises only the lumber yard, minus its planning mill and coal yard but retaining the original store and later sheds. remains in operation.
Annandale exists today as a largely residential community whose late 19th/early 20th-century character survives substantially intact, despite the surrounding residential and commercial development of recent years stimulated by the completion of Interstate Route 78 just south of the village. Although many nonresidential uses in the village have disappeared, the buildings that housed them mostly remain. Modern alterations and deterioration, however, threaten a number of district buildings, and the remaining open lands surrounding the village are subject to growing development pressure. Responding to these conditions, local residents have become increasingly aware of the community's special historical and architectural heritage which make it a worthy candidate for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and the desirability of preserving that heritage.