Aug 12, 2020

Another Historic Haven of Monmouth County: The Historic Harry Borden Home

By Lori Draz

This month, Historic Havens was invited into the private home of Gail and Mike Forrest, of Shrewsbury, who have lived in this circa-1904 home at 909 Broad St. since 1998. Mike said that he and Gail looked at as many as 60 houses but always kept returning to this home because it has what he called “the wow factor.” For the Forrests, that wow is found in the detailed woodwork, which fills every part of this home, and they have lovingly restored and maintained every inch. The Forrests are also members of the Shrewsbury Historical Society, and several years ago, they even allowed the society to use their home and its huge backyard as the site of the annual home tour house party fundraiser.

One of the most prominent names in Monmouth County history is Borden. You will find branches of this family in many neighboring towns. Harry Borden, who built and lived in this home, lived from May 17, 1870 to May 8, 1944. He was prominent in the building business.

Borden was also a councilman in Shrewsbury as well as a Monmouth County Freeholder during which time he was a member of the finance committee. Borden worked as a tax assessor for Shrewsbury. A “son of the American Revolution,” he was also a member of the Monmouth County Highway and Bridge Committee. He championed the paving of Broad Street in 1929, which, if you can imagine, had been a dirt road used by horses and carriages at that time.

In his younger days, Borden lived next door to where the historic house stands today. He met a woman named Sallie, who would become his wife. As a wedding gift to the couple, Borden’s parents gave him the lot where he built this home. In those days, gifting lots of land was a common practice. In fact, the home across the street was also a Borden home. A lovely feature is the H, S and B inlaid medallions (for Harry and Sallie Borden) which are part of the floor design.

He and Sallie are buried in the First Presbyterian Churchyard in Shrewsbury.

The home has seven bedrooms, four on the second floor and three on the third floor, which came in handy for one of the home’s previous owners, Paul F. Schissler’s family which had eight children: Paul, Jr., Edward, Joan, Margaret, Mark, Phillip, Tomas and Anne. Thankfully, that beautiful woodwork inside survived all those feet running around the house.

One of the home’s most impressive features is the large round living room, which features a semi-circular floor with window frames to match and, most impressively, the glass window panes which have been artfully molded to perfectly fit the curvature.

The divided bathroom has a separate room for the commode, and you can see what is believed to be the original claw foot bath tub.

The home also has matching fireplaces in the dining and living rooms, which feature beautiful mantles, and the walls in the dining room are lined in high raised oak panels.

You will also see the most magnificent oversized doors with their original brass doorknobs. The living room and dining room are separated by an extraordinary pair of pocket doors, which is also part of the original construction.

We wish to thank former mayor and President of the Shrewsbury Historical Society Don Burden for introducing readers to this wonderful home, and equally Gail and Mike Forrest for their gracious hospitality.