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Historic Havens: Little Silver

By Lori Draz

On June 24, Little Silver was alive as young and old enjoyed a daylong celebration that marked the 100th anniversary of the date that Little Silver became officially established as its own town, though its history dates back to 1665 when it was part of the sprawling Shrewsbury Township that stretched from Rumson to Ocean Township. 

This month, Historic Havens invites you to spend a day touring some of the historic sites of Little Silver while stopping at its many bustling stores and restaurants.  

The history of Little Silver begins with the Monmouth Patent, 1665. Twelve parcels of land were given to 12 proprietors, one those were brothers Joseph and Peter Parker, two Quakers from Rhode Island who also helped build Shrewsbury’s Quaker Meeting House in 1672. The brothers bought the neighboring properties on the Rumson peninsula between the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and established a family home at the site called the Parker Homestead. This was the multi-generational Parker home from 1665 to 1996 when finally, eighth-generation Julia Parker, having no heirs, gave the property to Little Silver. In 2011, the Homestead was placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places as well as the National Register of Historic Places. The property has been undergoing historic preservation and the beautiful grounds, barns and house are open to the public for tours on Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm. 

Another interesting stop is the small building next to the Little Silver Library and behind the borough offices. This is the Postal Museum, home to not only historic postal items, but also to a treasure trove of other historic items, clothing, documents and photographs of Little Silver and the surrounding area. You’ll also see some nautical items that commemorate the resort life of Little Silver Point. At one time, the shore was lined with huge hotels and boarding houses and was visited by steamships from New York. The museum is open on the first Saturday of each month from 11 am to 1 pm. 

Arriving in Little Silver by train brings you right to the charming Little Silver Train Station. The original station was built in 1875 and was replaced by the current sandstone structure which was designed by the noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson. It opened in 1890 and was placed on the New Jersey State and National Historic Registry in 1984. One sad but important event took place on June 30, 1882, when an accident occurred which claimed three lives. Among the survivors was former President Ulysses S. Grant.

Next to Borough Hall, you’ll find Embury United Methodist Church. The church was originally referred to as the Methodist Church of Parkerville. The present sanctuary was dedicated on Feb. 24, 1869 and was named in honor of Philip Embury, preacher of the first Methodist congregation to be organized in New York City and one of the first in the colonies.

Longtime Little Silver Mayor Bob Neff shares, “It remains my pleasure to serve this wonderful, historic and family-oriented town. While Little Silver was officially incorporated 100 years ago, its history as a community extends well before that, to our first Native American inhabitants and then to the initial European arrivals in the 1600s. We have a number of distinctive historic homes, a vibrant downtown and the best schools around, if I can brag a little. I want to thank our residents and business owners and devoted volunteers, employees and professionals, and I welcome your visit.”

In addition to these locations are Edie’s Restaurant, St. John’s Episcopal Church and many historic homes on the tree-lined streets. Take a look at the Folk Victorian at 381 Branch Ave., the old carriage factory at 189 Rumson Rd. and “Rambler Hedge” at 91 Kings Rd. for some examples of the many historic homes in town.

A highly recommended read is a wonderful book called “A Sketchbook of Little Silver,” written in 1973 by June O. Kennedy that is full of great details and historic photos. 

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