BRICK – At the same time that Andrew Jackson was president, there were only 25 states, steam locomotives were being used in this country for the first time, and a house was built on Drum Point Road by the Havens family, who were some of the earliest settlers in what would become Brick Township.
The house, located at 431 Drum Point Road, is still standing, and its occupants, Gary and Pat Applegate, were recently presented with the Brick Township Historic Preservation Award by the township’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Gary Applegate’s grandfather purchased the house from the Havens family in 1912, and it has been in the Applegate family ever since.
“I don’t like change,” Applegate, 76, joked as he described how he and his late father, who was a master carpenter, modernized and opened up the inside of the house, working room-by-room.
“My father said he crawled around the house as a baby and now he was crawling around the house as an old man,” he said.
The only changes to the outside of the house have been to modify the roofline for more headroom in the upstairs, tearing out a chimney that was a cook stove, and using an outside enclosed porch to enlarge the kitchen and create a bathroom.
“My grandfather wouldn’t have an indoor bathroom,” Applegate said. “He said ‘People want to do their business in the house and eat out in the yard.’”
He said that when his grandfather lived in the house, Drum Point was a sand road that led to the bay.
“No one wanted to live on the water because in the summer it was hot and buggy, and in the winter you froze,” Applegate said.
The father and son ripped out the plaster and lathe walls in the house and installed sheetrock. They stripped down and restored the original molding, installed new wiring, hot water baseboard heat and other modern conveniences.
Behind the walls, and in between the studs – which are finished on three sides and have bark on the fourth side – are bricks, which was used as insulation. “We left it, because you’re not going to get anything better,” Applegate said. “It’s sturdy as a rock.”
The house is constructed with square nails that were forged by blacksmiths, and dowel pegs, Applegate said. There are also original hurricane braces in the corners constructed of “two-bys,” angled into the studs, he said.
“Everything we’ve done blends into the original concept. We had cedar shingles on the roof but now we have sheathing boards and strip shingles,” he said.
Pat said that when she and Gary got married in 1970, she could see daylight through the cedar shingles from the attic.
“It never leaked, though, because the cedar shingles would swell when it rained, but it was cold upstairs,” she said.
The couple raised their four daughters in the house that sits on about three acres. Their daughters and their families have all settled in Brick.
Applegate, whose mother’s maiden name was Gant, said the families have been in this area since the 1600s. His great-grandparents owned Gus Gant Store on Drum Point Road, which was opposite the Pioneer Hose Fire Company. The Gants owned land that ran from the Metedeconk River to Kettle Creek at the time.
Christine Schiess, who is chair of the Brick Township Historic Preservation Commission, said they maintain an inventory of historic buildings in Brick, and each year they present a Historic Preservation Award for a site that has been maintained as near as possible to its origins.
“For example, when the Applegates replaced their windows they stayed true to the original character of the property. They made sure they used historically accurate material, not something like vinyl,” she said.
Any of the nine (and two alternate) members of the Historic Preservation Commission – or a resident – could nominate a site to be considered for the Historic Preservation Award.
Past award recipients:
2000: 1845 Highway 88 E – Enoch Robbins House
2001: 521 Herbertsville Road – Havens Homestead Museum
2002: 223 Drum Point Road – Johnson House
2002: Special Award – White Oak Tree Highway 88 West
2003: 580 Herbertsville Road – Tilton-Osborn House
2004: 72 Beaton Road – David Beaton & Sons Boatyard
2005: 621 Herbertsville Road – Herbertsville Road Church
2006: 560 Winding River Lane – Wagner House
2013: 1646 Tilford Blvd – Furgeson House
2014: 203 Drum Point Road – Guddahl House
2015: 144 Beverly Drive (previously 146) Merritt House
2016: 49 Red Wing Ave. – Wurret/Campbell House – Serendipity
2017: 431 Drum Point Road – Applegate House