SHREWSBURY: KICKING IT OLD MONMOUTH

FriendsAllenChristPresbClockwise from top left: the Shrewsbury Borough landmarks of the Friends Meeting House, Allen House, Old Christ Church and  First Presbyterian Church are among the historic homesteads, community centers and houses of worship on the Weekend in Old Monmouth Tour, going on Saturday and Sunday all about the greater Green and beyond.  

If it’s the first Saturday and Sunday in May, this must be the Weekend in Old Monmouth — and if you’re sufficiently curious about the rich history of the place where you live, there’s never been a better time to take a closer look at the area’s many historic places, some of which you’ve surely passed by countless times on your way to someplace a bit less charming. A series of free, self-guided tours of some 45 homes, meeting halls and houses of worship in Monmouth County, the seventh annual event (brought to you by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Monmouth County Historical Commission) runs four color-coded tour routes on May 3 (10 am – 5 pm) and May 4 (12 – 5 pm) — with all stops on the tour synching up their visitation hours, and waiving any admission fees for the duration of the Weekend.

OldMonmouthThe North, or “Yellow,” Tour includes many of the oldest structures in and around the greater Red Bank green — among them the buildings of Shrewsbury Borough’s Historic District at the intersection of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue. Currently in the midst of a multi-phase renovation, the 1816 Friends Meetinghouse (at 198 years old, merely the “newest” of the Quaker houses that date originally to 1672) will offer light refreshments to tour guests, a look at the adjacent Quaker burial ground, and walking-distance access to neighboring sites that include the Allen House, The Presbyterian Church, and Christ Church Episcopal (subject of a month-long photo exhibit at the nearby Eastern Branch Library). Also on the North tour itinerary are stops in Red Bank (Woman’s Club), Rumson (Sea Bright Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club), Sandy Hook (the Lighthouse and Fort Hancock), and several sites in Middletown, itself celebrating its 350th birthday — the “Old Stone Church” and hillside cemetery at All Saints Memorial in Navesink; Old First Church and Marlpit Hall on Kings Highway, and the Seabrook-Wilson House (aka The Spy House) on the bay in Port Monmouth.

The County has also mapped out an East (Blue) Tour, a South (Green) Tour, and a West (Red) Tour, together comprising an eclectic collection of Revolutionary War battlegrounds, WWII installations, Victorian estates, farmhouses, schoolhouses, and storefronts. Each of the sites will offer printed maps and tour booklets free of charge to visitors. Take it here for a complete list of tour sites, as well as downloadable versions of the 2014 Tour Map and guide booklet.