Somerset County's
Weekend Journey Through The Past

Visit twenty-nine historic house museums/sites, countywide, in scenic Somerset County, New Jersey.

Don’t miss Somerset County’s eleventh annual Weekend Journey through the Past, an opportunity to step into and experience the past by visiting twenty-nine historic sites countywide open FREE to the public of all ages on Saturday, October 14 from 10:00AM-5:00PM and Sunday, October 15 from Noon -4:00PM. This annual autumn weekend features interpreted tours led by guides in period dress, special collections and exhibitions, arts, and a seemingly unending variety of offerings.

Experience the sights and sounds of the 18th century with costumed reenactors; be intrigued by a Colonial brewery historian (in period dress), demonstrating the making of beer during the period, and discussing how beer played a central role in the social, economic and political life of our regions ancestors; visit a one- room schoolhouse & experience early school activities; enjoy an old-time silent movie; learn about 18th century relationships like “wooing”, wedding rites & traditions of the Irish & Dutch; be amazed by 19th-century firefighting wagons and apparatus; observe traditional authentic blacksmithing; colonial open hearth cooking; craftspeople demonstrating period decorative crafts; gravestone rubbing demonstrations; enjoy live theatre & music, including a strolling troubadour singing songs of the American Revolution; invitation to artists for on-site plein air painting, as well as featured art exhibitions by talented local artists; explore the Jack Nicklaus Room at the U.S. Golf Association Museum; guided tours of the USGA Equipment Standards Lab for those interested in the science behind the game of golf; golf- related art projects like clay golf course architecture, as well as children’s SNAG golf, a scavenger hunt in the USGA Museum; a hickory putting demonstration in authentic costume; open-hearth cooking; colonial tavern life and games; discover a wealth of genealogical resources to aid your efforts in researching local ancestors; learn about area military history; appreciate interesting architecture as you gain access to some sites not generally open to the public; and so much more. Something for everyone!

This year’s event features two newly participating historic sites: The Griggstown Bridgetender's House in Princeton and the Van Liew-Suydam House in Franklin Twp.

Docents like these at the Abraham Staats House in South Bound Brook immerse our younger generations in history so they develop a love and respect for things historic, hopefully growing up to be the next stewards of historic preservation for future generations.

Visitors may follow a scenic route, with driving directions prepared for each of three sections in the County—northern, central, and southern—or choose the sites that intrigue them most and drive from one to the next at a leisurely pace, stopping for a bite to eat along the way at any of the many casual eateries or fine restaurants in Somerset County The northern route includes stops in the Watchung Mountains, an area that was never heavily industrialized, and which still retains much of its Colonial agrarian character. Sites in the central section lie a short distance from the Old York Road, a prominent commercial course from New York to Philadelphia, predating the Revolutionary War. In the southern tier, more sites are connected by some of Somerset's most scenic roads, paralleling both sides of the Millstone River and Delaware and Raritan Canal.

What In The World Is That?

For those who enjoy a challenge, we’re continuing our popular educational and fun detective investigation activity for kids and the entire family that will test your powers of deduction to solve 29 mysteries. “What in the World is That…?” is intended to encourage a multi-generational outing for parents, children and grandparents. Share stories and experiences about “the old days” with your children and grandchildren as you enjoy traveling from one historic site to the next.

At each historic site, one unique item from the past will be featured, displayed and described. As a rookie detective enlisted to investigate, you are challenged to reveal the true identity and function of each mystery item. Download and print an “Official Investigative Task Booklet” from the event website.

Next to the name and town of each participating historic site you’ll find a small photo of a mystery item to identify. After carefully examining the photo, write down in your booklet what you believe the item is. Once done, take your booklet and go to as many participating sites as you can, searching the premises to locate the mystery item (look for the Sherlock Holmes silhouette sticker). When you find it, read the posted information to see if your powers of deduction were correct, and rate yourself as a weekend detective.

Tech-savvy visitors may view each mystery item on their smart phone or tablet at prior to visiting each site. Though you may not have a booklet to record your guesses, you and your family or friends will have fun challenging each other before you walk through the door to discover the item’s true identity, or confirm your correct guess upon arrival. Enjoy your quest!

Rich Wagner will demonstrate colonial beer brewing during the 2016 Weekend Journey through the Past at the Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster

The range of historical stewardship along the way is impressive, State of New Jersey historic sites and parks include Washington Rock Park on this year’s tour, which was a strategic lookout post during the Revolutionary War from which Gen. George Washington directed his troops against the British forces. To this day, the 30-mile panoramic view from this location in the Watchung Mountains (easily accessible from U.S. Rte. 22 in Green Brook) is an awesome/tranquil “must stop” location offering breathtaking views of NY city. Do get out and experience this natural site to appreciate its historic strategic location. Local municipalities supervise and interpret places like the Somerville Fire Museum, the Mt. Bethel Meeting House and Kirch Ford Terrell House in Warren Township. Under the watchful eye and dedication of organizations like the Meadows Foundation, the Heritage Trail Association, the Old Millstone Forge Association and many others, historic properties interpret and commemorate early Dutch and American heritage. Local parishes and friend's groups tend to the Presbyterian Church of Bound Brook, Codington Farmstead, the Abraham Staats House, and others. Destinations along the way range from one-room schoolhouses in Millstone, South Branch, and Basking Ridge, and Griggstown to nationally renowned museums in elegant mansions like that at the USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History in Far Hills. In between, the hills of Somerset will bloom with prime fall foliage.

At the USGA Museum, activities include a Museum scavenger hunt, as well as self-guided tours featuring the new Jack Nicklaus Room (above) and a special presentation on the historic Pope Mansion that is home to the world’s largest collection of golf artifacts and memorabilia. Photo courtesy USGA.

2017 Participating Historic Sites / Locations

  • Blawenburg Reformed Church, Blawenburg (Montgomery)
  • Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate, Basking Ridge
  • The Brick Academy, Basking Ridge
  • The Brook Arts Center / Historic Brook Theater, Bound Brook
  • Codington Farmstead, Warren Twp.
  • Gen. J. Frelinghuysen House / Raritan Public Library, Raritan
  • Amy Garret House, Rocky Hill
  • Griggstown Bridgetender’s House, Princeton
  • Griggstown Schoolhouse, Franklin Township/Princeton
  • Historic 1860 Schoolhouse / Millstone Borough Hall, Millstone
  • Kirch Ford Terrill House, Warren Township
  • Mount Bethel Meeting House, Warren Township
  • Old Millstone Forge Blacksmith Shop & Museum, Millstone
  • Old Presbyterian Graveyard, Bound Brook
  • The Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook
  • Relief Hose Company No. 2 Engine House, Raritan
  • Daniel Robert Mansion / Somerville Borough Hall, Somerville
  • Somerville Exempt Fire Museum, Somerville
  • South Branch Schoolhouse, Branchburg
  • Abraham Staats House, South Bound Brook
  • Andrew Ten Eyck House, Branchburg
  • Texier House Museum, Watchung
  • USGA Golf Museum, Far Hills
  • Philip Van Horne House, Bridgewater
  • Van Liew-Suydam House, Franklin Township
  • Van Veghten House, Bridgewater
  • Dr. John Vermeule House, Green Brook
  • Wallace House State Historic Site, Somerville
  • Washington Rock Park, Green Brook

Somerset County's Weekend Journey Through The Past is an initiative of the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission and Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, in collaboration with dedicated representatives of local history organizations/commissions, as well as some local artists/arts organizations. Hours for the “Journey” are 10am - 5pm on Saturday, October 14, 2017; and 12 noon - 4pm on Sunday, October 15, 2017. Admission and parking at each site are free. For details about participating sites and contest entries, please click on the event website.

Some of the Arts enhancements have been made possible by the NJ State Council on the Arts/Dept. of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through the State/County Partnership Local Arts Program Grant, administered by the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  • Duke Farms
  • View historic buildings, elegant bridges, a chain of beautiful man-made lakes, lush meadows, woodlands. waterfalls and ornamental fountains at the historic estate.

    80 Route 206, Hillsborough 08876, 908/722-3700

  • Lake Hopatcong Golf Club
  • Putt through Lake Hopatcong history at this lakeside minigolf course. Perfect for your next party!

    37 Nolans Point Park Rd., Lake Hopatcong 07849, 973/663-0451

  • Hutcheson Memorial Forest
  • , Franklin Twp. ,

  • Alice's Restaurant
  • Good food and comfortable drink overlooking Lake Hopatcong featuring innovative and seasonal specials. Join us for happy hour Thursday & Friday from 5-8pm downstairs at The Big Fish Lounge.

    24 Nolan?s Point Park Rd, Lake Hopatcong 07849, 973/663-9600

  • The Raptor Trust
  • The Raptor Trust is one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers in the United States.

    1452 White Bridge Road, Millington 07946, 908/647-2353