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Neshanic Station Historic DIstrict

Branchburg Twp, Somerset County, NJ


Shadow Lawn (John G. Schenck House)

Photo: Shadow Lawn (John G. Schenck House), circa 1858-1865, Schenck began the development of Neshanic Station in the late 1860s on a farm inherited from his wife's father. The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. Photographed by User:Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD (own work), 2016, [cc-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed November, 2021.


The Neshanic Station Historic District was spurred by the construction of the South Branch Railroad and the Easton and Amboy Railroad (later the Lehigh Valley Railroad). The village was founded and planned by local farmer and State Senator John G. Schenck. In 1862 Sheneck had an Italianate mansion, known as Shadow Lawn, constructed and then sold land to the South Branch Railroad for its depot and roadbed.

The District is composed of over 90 contributing structures. Residential styles represented include Italianate, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival. A number of dwelling also exhibit Craftsman style influences. The district contains a number of commercial, industrial and institutional resources. The Neshanic Methodist Church exhibits Gothic Revival and Shingle style influences while the two-story New Jersey Central Railroad passenger station exhibits Italianate style. The commercial resources include, among others, three farm equipment, automobile and truck dealership/repair shops from the early 20th century. The district also includes three railroad bridges and one vehicular bridge. The most significant bridges are the three span, riveted-deck-plate-girder railroad bridge constructed by the Lehigh Valley railroad in 1901/1902, the two-span, pin-connected Pratt through-truss railroad bridge constructed by the New Jersey Central Railroad in 1896 and the vehicular two-span, pin-connected Lenticular through-truss bridge which was also constructed in 1896. All three bridges span the South Branch of the Raritan River.

National Register Historic District [2]

The Neshanic Station Historic District encompasses most of the village of that name, located at the southern end of Branchburg Township in western Somerset County at a "goose neck" bend in the South Branch of the Raritan River, one of the major rivers draining New Jersey's Piedmont geographical province. The village occupies a generally level site above the river's flood plain between the two railroad lines whose construction during the third quarter of the 19th century provided the impetus for its founding and subsequent development. The community encompasses, for the most part, several rectilinearly platted blocks located north and south of Maple Avenue/Elm Street, an early road leading to a bridge crossing the South Branch and a mill hamlet on the opposite bank as well as somewhat more irregular development to the south along Main Street around the former station of the abandoned New Jersey Central (South Branch) Railroad and to the north along Fairview Drive adjoining the station site of the still active Lehigh Valley line, now Norfolk Southern Railroad. Neshanic Station is mostly in single-family and two-family residential use but it also includes a number of commercial and institutional uses, along with several railroad related features. Open space and agricultural lands border the village along the river and to its north, while the area to the west and south presents a mix of mid/late 20th century residential development with scattered open space and industrial properties. The Neshanic Station Historic District includes the northern and eastern portions of the village, the area developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with open space along the river, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad Bridge over the South Branch, a small railroad bridge over Pleasant Run Road and the embankment between them, along with the Somerset County Route 667 bridge over the South Branch and the abandoned New Jersey Central Railroad bridge over the South Branch (both of which were previously listed on the New Jersey and National Registers as part of the Neshanic Mills Historic District) but excludes the modern residential and industrial development to the south and west.

The Neshanic Station Historic District encompasses most of the village of that name, located at the southern end of Branchburg Township in western Somerset County at a "goose neck" bend in the South Branch of the Raritan River, one of the major rivers draining New Jersey's Piedmont geographical province. The village occupies a generally level site above the river's flood plain between the two railroad lines whose construction during the third quarter of the 19th century provided the impetus for its founding and subsequent development. The community encompasses, for the most part, several rectilinearly platted blocks located north and south of Maple Avenue/Elm Street, an early road leading to a bridge crossing the South Branch and a mill hamlet on the opposite bank (the New Jersey and National Registers listed Neshanic Mills Historic District) as well as somewhat more irregular development to the south along Main Street around the former station of the abandoned New Jersey Central (South Branch) Railroad and to the north along Fairview Drive adjoining the station site of the still active Lehigh Valley line, now Norfolk Southern Railroad. Neshanic Station is mostly in single-family and two-family residential use but it also includes a number of commercial and institutional uses, along with several railroad related features. Open space and agricultural lands border the village along the river and to its north, while the area to the west and south presents a mix of mid/late 20th century residential development with scattered open space and industrial properties. The Neshanic Station Historic District includes the northern and eastern portions of the village, the area developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with open space along the river, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad Bridge over the South Branch, a small railroad bridge over Pleasant Run Road and the embankment between them, along with the Somerset County Route 667 bridge over the South Branch and the abandoned New Jersey Central Railroad bridge over the South Branch (both of which were previously listed on the New Jersey and National Registers as part of the Neshanic Mills Historic District) but excludes the modern residential and industrial development to the south and west.

The Neshanic Station Historic District encompasses most of the village of that name, located at the southern end of Branchburg Township in western Somerset County at a "goose neck" bend in the South Branch of the Raritan River, one of the major rivers draining New Jersey's Piedmont geographical province. The village occupies a generally level site above the river's flood plain between the two railroad lines whose construction during the third quarter of the 19th century provided the impetus for its founding and subsequent development. The community encompasses, for the most part, several rectilinearly platted blocks located north and south of Maple Avenue/Elm Street, an early road leading to a bridge crossing the South Branch and a mill hamlet on the opposite bank (the New Jersey and National Registers listed Neshanic Mills Historic District) as well as somewhat more irregular development to the south along Main Street around the former station of the abandoned New Jersey Central (South Branch) Railroad and to the north along Fairview Drive adjoining the station site of the still active Lehigh Valley line, now Norfolk Southern Railroad. Neshanic Station is mostly in single-family and two-family residential use but it also includes a number of commercial and institutional uses, along with several railroad related features. Open space and agricultural lands border the village along the river and to its north, while the area to the west and south presents a mix of mid/late 20th century residential development with scattered open space and industrial properties. The Neshanic Station Historic District includes the northern and eastern portions of the village, the area developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with open space along the river, and the Lehigh Valley Railroad Bridge over the South Branch, a small railroad bridge over Pleasant Run Road and the embankment between them, along with the Somerset County Route 667 bridge over the South Branch and the abandoned New Jersey Central Railroad bridge over the South Branch (both of which were previously listed on the New Jersey and National Registers as part of the Neshanic Mills Historic District) but excludes the modern residential and industrial development to the south and west.

The district’s street network as developed in the late 19th century was shaped by the neighborhood’s early road pattern and the two railroad lines, as well as natural conditions. The Y-angled intersection of Pearl and Olive Streets and the associated irregularly shaped blocks platted about 1872 resulted from the routes of the east/west road leading to the South Branch crossing (Elm Street/Maple Avenue) and the Easton and Amboy (Lehigh Valley) Railroad, as well as the limitations of the South Branch flood plain, while in the less constrained area south of Maple Avenue, platted in the early 20th century, a rectilinear pattern was obtained. The rectilinear blocks south of Maple Avenue also incorporated alleys (still unpaved) running along rear lot lines, but these have been abandoned as public rights-of way. Main Street was opened in the 1860s to give access to the South Branch Railroad Station, but, constrained by the river’s flood plain, turns sharply westward along the rail line to provide road frontage (Woodfern Road) for the rail-related commercial and industrial development that occurred there. Fairview Drive between Pleasant Run and Blackpoint Roads similarly was opened by 1888 to facilitate development in the vicinity of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station. All district roads are asphalt-paved, and feature one travel lane in each direction with painted centerlines on Elm and Main Streets, Maple Avenue and Pleasant Run Road. Concrete sidewalks are present on the east side of Pearl Street and the north side of Olive Street, and concrete curbing is found along those streets and in scattered locations elsewhere. Street signage in the district consists of standard road identification and traffic control signs. In many places, lawns extend to the edge of the pavement or unpaved shoulder.

Neshanic Station’s architecture encompasses a number of the building types and architectural styles that were popular in the region’s growing towns and villages during the 1ate 19th and early 20th centuries. A number of examples of the two-story, gable-roofed house type with single-pile or double-pile plans, regular facades of three to five bays and interior gable-end chimneys are present. Ubiquitous in western New Jersey’s 18th and early 19th-century housing stock, such dwellings (at least the simpler forms) remained fairly common in the late 1800s, but disappeared from the local building vocabulary after 1900. Examples with single-pile, two-room-plans (the traditional I-type) and there is one example with a double-pile plan. There are gable-fronted two-story house type also and are well represented in Neshanic Station including examples with three-bays facades and presumably side-hall and gable-fronted houses with either L-shaped or T-shaped plans The earlier examples exhibit Italianate or Gothic Revival style detailing, and the latter ones Queen Anne or Colonial Revival style influences. The district includes one notable example of an Italianate cubic villa, and one three-bay, side-hall plan house with a mansard roof of Second Empire style derivation. The boxy, hip-roofed type know as the “Four Square” entered the regional building vocabulary around 1900, and the district contains a few early 20th-century examples. Somewhat more common are a number of larger more elaborately detailed hip-roofed dwellings with Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style embellishment. Dutch Colonial Revival style influences can be seen in a few dwellings with gambrel roofs; a number of other dwellings exhibit Craftsman style influences.

  1. Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, Historic Sites & Districts in Somerset County, NJ, 2015, www.co.somerset.nj.us, accessed November, 2021.
  2. Ann Parsekian, Janice Armstrong, Dennis Bertland, Dennis Bertland Associates, Neshanic Station Historic District, nomination document, 2015. National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., accessed November, 2021.

Street Names
Chester Avenue • Elm Street • Fairview Drive • Main Street • Maple Avenue • Olive Street • Pearl Street • Woodfern Road


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