Nov 29, 2022

HISTORIC HAVENS: New Year’s Resolution

By Lori Draz

The Chapel at Historic Village at Allaire

It’s time to reflect on where you’ve been this year and where you plan to go next year. As you make up your list of New Year’s resolutions, put exploring history on your to do list and learn and experience more about the glorious Garden State. 

Monmouth County has some of the oldest historic destinations in the nation, all within a short drive. The state’s rich culture celebrates the sea, the soil, religious, and political freedoms, celebrities, science, and even some scandal – after all, this is New Jersey.

This Historic Havens offers 12 locations to visit, one each month, to learn more. Even if you only get to a few, you will be amazed at what New Jersey holds. Here they are, in no particular order.

1) The Eden Wooley Museum, 703 Deal Rd. in Ocean. This charming museum has permanent and rotating exhibits that showcase life and eras in the state. Open for public, private and group tours. 732-531-2136

2) The Historic Village at Allaire, 4263 Atlantic Ave. in Farmingdale. The 200th Anniversary Celebration will be continuing with numerous special events, exhibits and tours throughout the year. Visit to see a calendar and for tickets to select events. 732-919-3500 

3) The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County, 310 Mounts Corner Dr. in Freehold. Open Tuesdays, Sundays and for special events, lectures and tour groups. 732-252-6990

4) The USGA Museum USGA Golf Museum and Library, 77 Liberty Corner Rd. in Far Hills. This museum houses the largest collection of more than 70,000 golf artifacts and documents in the nation including three of the most famous clubs in golf: Bob Jones’ putter “Calamity Jane II,” Ben Hogan’s 1-iron from the 1950 U.S. Open and the club Alan Shepard used on the moon. 

5) Monmouth Battlefield State Park, 20 State Route 33 in Manalapan. It’s hard to believe these serene, gorgeous grounds are located just seconds from busy Route 9 and the Freehold Raceway Mall. The Battle of Monmouth was fought there and is re-enacted annually, but it is beautiful anytime you visit. 732-462-9616

6) Princeton Battlefield, 500 Mercer Rd. in Princeton. The site of another key battle of the Revolutionary war took place on Jan. 3, 1777. The battle marked the end of “The Ten Crucial Days” which included Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River and the two battles in Trenton. 609-921-0074

7) NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Vietnam Era Educational Center, 1 Memorial Lane in Holmdel. If you haven’t been, go. There is a small fee for the museum, but the beautifully landscaped grounds with their impressive statues and monuments are free and open every day.

8) Old First Church, 69 Kings Highway in Middletown. This is also the site of the AAUW book sale.

9) St. George’s by the River, 7 Lincoln Ave. in Rumson. It was built in 1907 and added to the National Register in 2007.

10) Strauss Mansion Museum, 27 Prospect Circle in Atlantic Highlands. This is also the home of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. They are open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 pm, and for seekers of the spooky, the mansion is considered to be an actively haunted location.

11) Lucy the Elephant, 9200 Atlantic Ave. in Margate. As one of the oddest and oldest roadside attractions in the US, Lucy the Elephant is listed as a National Historic Landmark. The six-story pachyderm was built in 1881 to attract real estate buyers to the area. Lucy is just minutes from Atlantic City and the historic Steel Pier too. 609-823-6473

12) New Jersey Maritime Museum, 528 Dock Rd. in Beach Haven. This museum houses the most extensive collection of maritime history and artifacts in New Jersey. They have exhibits, events, archived photos and a shipwreck data base. They also have a rich website, 609-492-0202

One of the great introductions to area history is the Monmouth County Park’s System’s A Weekend in Old Monmouth. Dates for 2023 have not been released, but the event is traditionally held on the last weekend of April. During this weekend, nearly all the historic sites throughout Monmouth County waive their admissions and open their doors – all at the same time – to visitors with an interest in local history. 

The park system has many historic-themed and living history farm events throughout the year, so visit often to see what’s happening. 

Should you wish to really get involved in preserving history, there are a number of wonderful historical societies that you can join. The Monmouth County Historical Association collects, preserves and interprets its extensive museum, library and archival collections that relate to Monmouth County’s history and culture and makes these resources available to the widest possible audience. They are always looking for volunteers, and the ways to lend a hand are diverse, from becoming a costumed docent to an archivist, there’s something for every personality. Visit to learn more. 

Another gold mine of historic records and photographs is the Monmouth County Archives. Among the volumes of data you’ll discover some of the oldest documents in the state, and they are always looking for volunteer archivists. Visit to learn more.

Our rich history includes Native Americans, settlers, nautical history, revolutionary war, rum running in the prohibition era, World War I and II histories and so much more. Let you mind wander. Imagine life in all those different times, and think about what those earliest of residents would think of the New Jersey we know today. History is all around us; explore and enjoy.