Cedar Bridge Tavern, Barnegat Township

HOME TO the last skirmish of the American Revolution, the Cedar Bridge Tavern, tucked away in the Pine Barrens in Barnegat Township, is a historic treasure that offers a glimpse into the past.

 Keenly aware of its historical significance, Ocean County officials embarked on a multi-year project to preserve the Cedar Bridge Tavern by first assembling a team of experts with an eye toward maintaining the historic details of the building. Once the work was completed and the building was opened to the public, visitors are given the opportunity to view a host of displays recreating the bygone era in Ocean County history.

All of this work has resulted in Ocean County receiving one of the 29th Annual New Jersey Historic Preservation Awards. This year, there are 12 other projects receiving historic preservation achievement awards, and three individuals receiving historic preservation leadership awards from Preservation New Jersey.

            “The Cedar Bridge Tavern offers a unique window into the post-industrial forests of the New Jersey Pinelands,” said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who is the Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We have worked hand in hand with many individuals and agencies including the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation and the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, in preserving this structure.

“This award recognizes everyone that participated in the preservation project,” she said.

            The New Jersey Historic Preservation Award recognizes those exemplary and innovative projects and publications that contribute significantly to advancing the field of historic preservation and that promotes livable communities in New Jersey.

The award will be presented at the Annual Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony, being held in conjunction with the Preservation New Jersey’s Leadership Awards during a virtual event on Feb. 19.

            “This completed restoration project now stands as a historical showpiece in the County park system,” said the Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. “As one of the most accurate and authentic restorations of this type of structure in New Jersey, we are proud to accept this award for a project that allows Ocean County to leave a legacy to future generations.”

The historic tavern sits at an important 18th century crossroads of the east-west Old Springfield Road from Springfield in Burlington County to Manahawkin in then Monmouth County. It is also on the original stagecoach route from the west to the shore.

The multi-year renovation project to the circa 1816 building with an 1830’s kitchen addition took place under the direction of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, now called the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation and its Cultural and Heritage Commission.

            Ocean County purchased the tavern on Dec. 27, 2007, granting the owner, Rudolph Koenig, a life estate until his passing in January 2012. The County then began the work of removing the non-historic elements from the home. Meanwhile funded in part by grants through the New Jersey Historic Trust, the County hired consultants and contractors to renovate the tavern.

            “This project began under the leadership of the late Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who was instrumental in advancing the renovations and preservation,” said Haines, who is also the liaison to Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission. “His hard work and dedication to the history of our County has been rewarded. This award is truly recognition of his love for history and for the County.”

            As part of the project’s preliminary work, Annabelle Radcliffe-Trenner, principal of Historic Buildings Architects, LLC, Trenton, conducted a comprehensive preservation plan for the site, designed the plans, managed the prequalification of contractors and oversaw the detailed and historically appropriate restoration work.

            “I am so happy that Cedar Bridge Tavern has been recognized for the award,” said Radcliffe-Trenner. “This is a tribute to the commitment to the highest level of historical preservation and sets a standard for others to reach.”

            The Cedar Bridge Tavern restoration was the result of extensive architectural and archeological research that had resulted in the tavern being placed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places on Aug. 8, 2013.  Ocean County celebrated the completion of the restoration at a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 1, 2019.

The Cedar Bridge Tavern, located near the intersection of Routes 72 and 539 in Barnegat Township, is open to public tours on Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information on the tavern, visit Ocean County Parks and Recreation’s website https://www.oceancountyparks.org/ or the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission’s website http://www.co.ocean.nj.us/ch/frmCedarBridgeTavern.aspx.