Press release from Monmouth County Historical Association
The first formal showing of an 1880 reprint of the Declaration of Independence will be on display at The Monmouth County Historical Association’s Allen House, during the reading of the Declaration on Monday, July 4 at 10 a.m.
The Monmouth County Library Commission, chaired by Renee Swartz, has partnered with the Historical Association the Shrewsbury Boy Scout Troop, Christ Church, and Mayor Donald Barden in presenting a Fourth of July celebration at Shrewsbury’s “Four Corners,” the Historic District of buildings at the intersection of Broad Street (Route 35) and Sycamore Avenue. The special observance celebrates the 240th anniversary of the signing the Declaration at Philadelphia.
Swartz said County Library Director Judi Tolchin will bring the unique document to the Allen House prior to the reading of the Declaration, hosted by the Historical Association. The document will be on display outside, weather permitting, near the entrance to the Allen House at 400 Sycamore Avenue.
The reprint represents a recent gift to the library from F. Neal Warner of Freehold. The library consulted with Monmouth County archivist Gary Saretzky and, following his recommendations, had the work restored to archival quality standards by Daniel Fenski of Windsor Gallery in Colts Neck.
“We are so very grateful to Mr. Fenski for his generous donation of his talent and work in restoring the reprint to such high standards,” said Swartz. “We were honored with Mr. Warner’s generosity in selecting us for this valuable piece, and are happy to be able to display it for the first time at a Fourth of July ceremony.”
Entitled The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America in Congress, the document is a reprint of Benjamin Owen Tyler’s 1818 reproduction. Tyler’s documents were the first to produce the Declaration in script, and included facsimile signatures of the signers. Reportedly, the publisher designed the ornamental writing, retaining the same punctuation and copying each capital letter as in the original document. Professionals have said the facsimile signatures are so exact, it is difficult to tell them from the actual signatures of the original signers.
Following the July 4 ceremony, the print will be on permanent display at either the Eastern Branch Library on Route 35 in Shrewsbury, or the county’s Headquarters Library at 125 Symmes Drive in Manalapan.
MCHA President Linda Bricker will act as master of ceremonies during the Declaration reading in front of the Allen House, and members of the public in attendance will be asked to read portions out loud. This is the second year in which the Association is sponsoring the public reading of the Declaration on July 4, recalling how the 18th century population of the local area first learned the news.
Shrewsbury Mayor Donald W. Burden, Reverend Lisa Mitchell of Christ Church and Church Historian Bob Kelly will also join in the festivities. The bells at Christ Church will ring in honor of the signing. Shrewsbury Boy Scouts will again serve as color guard during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Allen House.
Following the 10 a.m. reading, costumed interpreters will welcome guests at the Allen House, which will remain open for tours and visitors until noon. Christ Church will conduct performances by their “Dead Actors Guild,” and cookies and lemonade will be served.
Parking is available in the Shrewsbury municipal parking lot, located across Sycamore Avenue from the Allen House. For further information, please call (732)462-1466.