Annandale, New Jersey History

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People step back in time on Annandale town by By Nancy Degenhardt (Source Unknown)

An eclectic group of about 65 people - old and young, babies in strolles, boys and girls gamboling about on the edges of the group - strolled back in time during a walking tour of Annandale Saturday morning (October 5, 2002).

The tour was organized by the township's Historic Preservation Commission, which is planning to apply for historic district status for the village on the state and national Register of Historic Places.

It will be followed by the township's 150th anniversary celebration, which will be begin at 1pm on Sunday June 2, with a parade in Annandale and a party and games on the lawn of the township-owned Beaver Brook Homestead on Beaver Avenue. The celebration will be sponsored by the township Historical Association and the Recreation Commission.

The walking tour drew an assortment of people.

Pat Ball of Herman Thau Road, one of the young parents pushing a stroller in the baby brigade, said she came because she likes to show her guests aroud the township and wanted to know more about it. Perky baby Dana, gazing around from her stroller, seemed to be enjoying the outing, too.

Gladys Whitely of High Bridge came because she grew up in Annandale and lived there many years before moving to Solitude Village 16 years ago. "we didn't appreciate the architecture growing up here," she said with a smile, remarking on the running commentary of architects Dennis Bertland and Christopher Welsh, who were leading the tour.

The village should qualify for the historic register, not because any momentous historical event happened here but beacuse it is a neighborhood which reflects the flow of history, said Welsh, a Hoboken resident who has restored a house in the Village.

In a sense, the chapter of history related by the village spans the era of the rise of the railroads in the 1850s to the advent of automobiles and paved roads in the 1920s. To the north lies the railroad and Main Street; to the south, Beaver Avenue, which was once part of a turnpike connecting the towns from New Brunswick to Easton, PA.

The walk began at the railroad stop at the end of Main Street where the defunct Jersey Central Railroad sent its first train through the township in June of 1852. Once a busy center for shipping peaches, milk graphite and other local products, the station buildings are gone, replaced by a modern plastic shelter for commuters riding the trains to New York.

The village grew up around the railroad, the first two being a tavern/hotel and a general store, both now residences, on the north side of Main Street. Across the street, at Hunterdon Lumber, various commercial enterprises have been carried on.

As the walkers continued through the village, Bertland and Welsh pointed out the architectural styles of different eras, explaining how the Victorian era of the 1860s and 1870s with its decorative embellishments gave away to other styles as popular taste changed.

Some homes are large, probably built by well-to-do peach farmers upon their retirement. Many are modest, homes of the ordinary working people of the day.

Quite a few houses combine elements of several styles as the owners remodeled them to suit the period - Greek revival, Queen Anne, Italian, the architects said. The town also includes the simpler styles of the colonial revival period and the suburban frame "pattern houses" which people built everywhere from pattern books in the late 19th century.

One of the oldest houses, a simple two-story frame house at the upper corner of West and Roosevelt streets perhaps dating back to the late 1700's, was once a farmhouse. One clue to its age is that it faces south, perpendicular to the street.

The hour tour afforded a partial glimpse of the village, taking in Main Street, West Street, Washington Street abd Maple Avenue. At the end, participants stopped at the home of George and Carolyn Neighbor for iced tea, served on the lawn. People tended to linger in the balmy air and chat about days past.

Asked about historic register status, Welsh said it would be advantageous for Annandale. The designation does not prevent changing or razing buildings by private owners, but it requires a special review of funded projects such as road widening. It also tends to increase property values by as much as 20 percent he said.

"Being on the register raises conciousness of the general public," Welsh said. "We have to treasure these things for future generations. If we don't, we lose our sense of history."

A survey of Annandale residences done by the commision was largely favorable to historic designation. Only a few objected strongly. Objectors say they fear being on the registor will lead to establishing a local historic district with regulations restricting what variances they can do to their homes.


Below is a copy of the e-mail about the walk...

Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 13:30:28 EDT
Subject: Tour of Annandale Historic District

History Folks

This is an invitation to participate in the 150th Anniversary walking tour of
the Annandale Historic District on Saturday, October 5. It begins at 10 a.m.
The tour is sponsored by the Clinton Township Historical Commission.

Dennis Bertland, Port Murray historian and noted history preservation
consultant, is leading the tour.

Annandale is a tiny railroad suburb that sprang-up when the CRRNJ opened its
Clinton Station there on July 4, 1852.

The station's name was changed to Annandale in 1873 by John Taylor Johnston,
President and guiding railroad genius of the CRRNJ. The name honors his
ancestor's hometown in Scotland.

The tidy village developed rapidly but remained small yet offers distinct
architectural styles ranging from pre-railroad farmhouse, High Victorian,
Queen Anne, Italianate, and Colonial Revival all the way to Sears, Roebuck
Kit Houses (aka, pattern houses).

The tour begins at 10 a.m. in front of the Old Municipal Building (Fox/Seals
Store, c. 1886) which is on West St., next to the Annandale Reformed Church

The tour is free. Tour guide booklets available for $5.

For reservations or directions call Ginger: 908-735-6072; or reply to this

Thank you for reading and welcome to Annandale.

Frank Curcio
Clinton Township Historical Commission
Historic Beaver Brook Homestead, Inc.