LITTLE SILVER: A 3-HOUR, 350-YEAR TOUR

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History buffs and the just-plain-curious lined up last December for a tour of the historic Parker Homestead farmhouse. The Little Silver landmark opens its doors Sunday morning, for another public perusal. 

In a December 2013 feature story that appeared here on redbankgreen, readers got a close-up look at Little Silver’s Parker Homestead, the local landmark (and one of New Jersey’s oldest homes) that opened its doors to a public tour, for the first time in its nearly 350 year history.

On Sunday, May 18, the historic Parker place at 235 Rumson Road farmhouse welcomes its 21st century neighbors once again, for an afternoon of guided exploration, informational presentations and other activities, culminating with the ceremonial planting of a red oak — our official state tree — to commemorate New Jersey’s 350th anniversary.

Between the hours of 1 to 4 pm, visitors can enjoy free tours of the home and grounds (a property that also includes three 19th century barn structures), hear about some exciting projects from the Monmouth County Historical Association and the Little Silver Environmental Commission, and take part in a kids’ planting event, with every child taking home a seedling. The event will also offer light refreshments, and parents are encouraged to bring cameras for pictures of their kids on a working vintage tractor.

As with the previous open house event, the tour represents a rare opportunity to view a home that’s been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 2012. It’s a place that was deeded to the borough of Little Silver in 1996 upon the death of Julia Parker — last of some eight generations of Parkers who farmed the land since it was settled by brothers Joseph and Peter Parker in 1665.

The house remains a work in progress, with some areas off limits to the tour, and other features (such as a recently rediscovered hearth dating to the early 18th century) getting ready for their close-up. Members of the nonprofit Parker Homestead 1665 Inc. trust, including Sickles Market owner Bob Sickles (a member of the Parker family tree), will be on hand to explain what has and what remains to be done in the ongoing restoration process.

On Saturday, September 13, Sickles Market will be the scene for a major fundraiser party entitled “As it Grows…,” an event scheduled to include a reception with tours of the historic Homestead, a tented farm-to-table community dinner catered by superstar chef and local restaurateur David Burke, starlight dancing to live music, live and silent auctions, and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets ($150), sponsorships and other information can be obtained by calling Laurie Bratone, Development Director for Monmouth County Historical Association, at (732)462-1466, extension 20.