SHREWSBURY: MEANDERING OLD MONMOUTH

shrews historicClockwise 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 sites on the Weekend in Old Monmouth Tour.

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 eighth 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 Saturday (10 am – 5 pm) and Sunday 3 (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.

The 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 multiphase renovation, the 1816 Friends Meetinghouse (at 199 years old, 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 Shrewsbury Historical Museum, and Christ Church Episcopal.

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 — the “Old Stone Church” and hillside cemetery at All Saints Memorial in Navesink; the Joseph Murray Farmhouse at Poricy Park; Old First Church, the Taylor-Butler House 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 downloadable version of the 2015 Tour Map and Guide Book — and read on for a detailed list of locations and activities around the greater Red Bank Green.

Allen House 

400 Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury

Saturday: 18th Century Dried Flower Arranging and 18th Century Kitchen Gardens, 12:30 – 5 pm

Sunday: 18th Century Kitchen Gardens, 12:30 – 5 pm

All Saints Memorial Church

202 Navesink Avenue, Navesink (Middletown)

Docents will be on-site to answer questions on both Saturday and Sunday. Plan on taking a break from the tour at the Parish House where home-baked treats, tea and other beverages will be available for purchase on Saturday, May 2 from 12 to 4 pm.

Christ Church

380 Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury

Joseph Murray Farmhouse at Poricy Park

345 Oak Hill Road, Middletown

Marlpit Hall 

137 Kings Highway, Middletown

18th Century Bookbinding – Creating an 18th Century Pamphlet, beginning at 12:30 each day.

Old First Church

69 Kings Highway, Middletown

Red Bank Woman’s Club

164 Broad Street, Red Bank

Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Fort Hancock

84 Mercer Road, Sandy Hook

Sea Bright Lawn Tennis & Cricket Club

5 Tennis Court Lane, Rumson

Seabrook-Wilson House

Bayshore Waterfront Park

719 Port Monmouth Road, Port Monmouth (Middletown)

Shrewsbury Historical Museum Municipal Complex

419 Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

375 Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury

Taylor-Butler House

127 Kings Highway, Middletown

Plein Air Painting, beginning at 12:30 pm each day