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Historic Havens: Holiday Gifts for History Hounds

By Lori Draz

It’s The Journal’s Holiday Guide, and we’ve got some great gift ideas for the history hounds on your list. 

We’ll start at the Historic Village at Allaire which is celebrating its 200th year. The General Store is always full of unique gifts like crafts made on-site by their own guilds, but for this year, they have a collectible 200th anniversary medallion, pin and poster collection with realistic renderings of each of the remaining buildings that still exist at Allaire.   

To get a real glimpse into life at Allaire, Hance M. Sitkus, executive director of the Historic Village, has written an amazing book that is full of the rich history, first-hand accounts and photos of Allaire Village. Hance dedicated the book to his great-grandmother, Mabel Frostick Kessler, and grandmother, Evelyn Kessler Morton, both of whom lived on the property for many years. 

For a most special memory, shop during the holidays and see Allaire decorated in vintage Victorian charm – and don’t forget to bring home some fresh-baked pies and treats from the bakery!

Between Allaire and our next stop lies the historic, yet modern town of Shrewsbury. This beautiful spot is home to numerous historic homes, attractions and an active historical association and museum, located at the Municipal Complex. The museum is full of items from the Revolutionary War through today, and there are three excellent books on local history including “History of Monmouth County (with index)” for $30. “The Story of Shrewsbury” costs $20 and was penned by historian Rick Geffken and historian and former Shrewsbury Mayor Don Burden. There’s also the easy-to-read book, “Shrewsbury,” for just $10.

At the top, quite literally, the Twin Lights Museum has some pretty cool items too. Start a love of history in the cradle with their new Twin Lights baby bibs. For the kids, they also two wonderful books, “To the Lighthouse” by Steve Murray, a New Jersey lighthouse historian, and “Hello Lighthouse” by Sophie Blackall, a Caldecott medalist.  

Adults can enhance their décor with Twin Lights watercolor prints, art pieces and a ship in a bottle. There’s a winter perfect 300-piece jigsaw puzzle, ornaments, clothing items and, of course, a library of titles on the history of this important landmark which sits at the highest point on the Eastern seaboard. Some of the popular picks recommended by Twin Lights include “Images of America: Guarding New Jersey’s Shore Lighthouses and Life-Saving Stations” by David Veasey, “Hidden History of New Jersey” by Joseph G. Bilby, James M. Madden and Harry Ziegler, “Guns Blazing! The War of 1812 and the New Jersey Shore” which is a collaboration between Twin Lights Historic Site, Navesink Maritime Heritage Association, Twin Lights Historical Society, and Cavalier Ebanks Galleries, and last but not least is Twin Lights Historical Society’s souvenir booklet, “Early Views of the Twin Lights and the Highlands of Navesink.”

Another great gift is a subscription to National Geographic or the Smithsonian, which at the time of this writing had an amazing offer: 11 monthly magazines for just $12, plus a free tote. Visit

Now for some real fun for young and old, become a treasure hunter in your home with a Treasure Chest, packed with one pound of collectible coins from around the world, including a few really rare, old and ancient tax tokens. It comes in a resin-coated treasure chest with an iron clasp. Each chest has a certificate of authenticity, and no two boxes are alike. There are hours of fun ahead researching and admiring these historical coins, so visit Impacto Coleccionables on Amazon.

Also on Amazon, the historic mixologists on your list will enjoy “How to Drink Like a Writer: Recipes for the Cocktails and Libations that Inspired 100 Literary Greats.” This book features a different writer and a cocktail they inspired on each page. And while we’re thinking about historic spirits, don’t forget to pick up some spirits produced by our area’s historic distillery, Laird’s Applejack.

That’s just the start. History is exciting, fascinating and fun! Happy Historic Havens holidays!

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