Navesink Historic District
The Navesink Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2013, The Gombach Group.
The Navesink Historic District reflects a number of distinct architectural periods. Basically the architecture of the 18th and first half of the 19th century reflects a community of low economics. The homes are simple and small. The architecture has only the simplest of decorative detail; essentially it is a vernacular architecture.
The late 18th century houses, about 8 in number, are quite similar to each other. All except one are 1-1/2 stories with a high knee wall, many with eyebrow windows. The early 19th century houses up to about the mid century number about 12. These too are simple. Several of the earlier of this group resemble the 1-1/2 story 18th century farms. The remainder are 2 stories. In many instances the popular Greek Revival elements are introduced at the entrance door with simple sidelights and pilasters.
It was the second half of the 19th century that shows an improvement in economics. During this period about 16 houses were added. Several modest Victorian houses were built. The last quarter of the 19th century saw a great increase in house construction. Of these, most (13 in number) were done with wood shingle exterior walls. Seven 20th century houses have been added to this district.
Basically the village still reflects its earlier vernacular character, clustered on a crossroads and served by two 19th century churches and two 19th century stores.
The area included in the Navesink Historic District has the largest concentration of historic buildings in the Navesink area. The sections of Navesink that were excluded have a large percentage of intrusions that visually diminish its historical integrity.
From the time of Hudson, the Dutch claimed the right to this region, but surrendered it to England in 1663. Subsequently the English negotiated with the Indians for the purchase of the land, and in 1665 Governor Nichols issued to a group of men a patent to cover their purchases. The first settler came in the spring or summer of 1664, and by 1665 over 100 families had arrived in the township. Richard Hartshorne, arriving in 1669, established his homestead in the area and bought 2,320 acres which included much of Navesink. Portions of the Hartshorne property remained intact well into the 1800's.
Development of the Navesink Village increased during the first part of the nineteenth century. In the 1800's, Navesink became the largest town in the area, and as such, was the shopping center for the surrounding area. It contained at least three general stores, a feed and grain store (where the present Post Office is located), a saw mill, a grist mill, an ice cream parlor, three barbers, several taverns, two hotels, two blacksmiths, a wheelwright, a shoe store and a stagecoach proprietor. The steamboats from New York to Red Bank stopped at Brown's Dock and Mount's Dock on the Navesink. Coal barges brought coal to the docks at Gravey's Pond area.
The establishment of a mill in Navesink in 1762 did much to encourage the growth of the town as a business center. Atlantic Highlands did not yet exist. People throughout the area would come to use the mill, located at the head of Claypit Creek. This was a convenient location for the export and import of goods. Since people traveled to the area to use the mill, it was logical that a trading center would develop nearby. Although other settlements, such as Middletown, existed, shopping centers were apparently not established there.
A comparison of Navesink's Housing Pattern, today with the development mapped out in Beers Atlas of 1873, indicates the town has similar settlement groupings today, as in the past. Most of the structures in the Navesink Historic District that were used as stores, hotels, etc., are still there. Some, like the general store, are being used as they were originally intended. Others, like Deginring's Hotel, have been adapted to use as family dwellings.
The enclave at Navesink is unusual and significant. It remains an almost completely intact example of a town where the workingmen of the late 18th and 19th century lived. It is unusual for such a town to retain this integrity in face of growing development in the area.
The Claypit Creek was once navigable further north than it is today. To the best of local people's knowledge, no part of the creek has been covered over.
Research indicates that Brown's Dock was across from where the present Brown's Dock Road ends at the Navesink River. This, however, has never been fully substantiated.
Although the mills at Claypit Creek and Browns Dock (mentioned previously) are not within the district, their proximity to the area did much to foster the growth of what is now the Navesink Historic District. Since a road (Monmouth Avenue) existed through this area that was convenient to people from many towns, business establishments grew up on this transportation route. Travelers would pass through the district before turning to the mill. Commercial enterprises such as the Hatsells General Store, the foundations of the drug store, the ice cream parlor, Deginring's Hotel, General Store and post office, the doctor's house (Carton House) and shoe store are all within the Navesink Historic District.
The Navesink Historic District is also significant, as mentioned above, because it serves as a good example of a workingman's residential area of the late 18th to 19th century, remaining generally intact amid widespread modern development.
Ellis, Franklin. History of Monmouth County, R.T. Peck, 1885.
Lee, Francis Bazley. New Jersey as a Colony and as a State, Publishing Society of New Jersey, 1902.
Leonard, Thomas Henry. From Indian Trails to Electric Rails, The Atlantic Highlands Journal, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1923.
† Nancy Israel and Staff, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Navesink Historic District, Monmouth County, NJ, nomination document, 1973, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.