BARNEGAT – It is a hidden historic treasure of Southern Ocean County and it was home to the last skirmish of the American Revolution – the Cedar Bridge Tavern.
The pub, tucked away in the Pine Barrens, offers a glimpse into the past and Ocean County officials are well aware of its historical significance so they embarked on a multi-year project to preserve the Cedar Bridge Tavern.
Their first step was to assemble a team of experts with an eye toward maintaining the historic accuracy of the structure. Once that work was completed, the building was re-opened to the public. Visitors can view a variety of displays recreating a bygone era in county history.
The culmination of this work resulted in Ocean County receiving one of the 29th Annual New Jersey Historic Preservation Awards. This year, there are a dozen 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 also serves as 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 added.
The 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 the state.
Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn said, “this completed restoration project now stands as a historical showpiece in the County park system. 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. It is also on the original stagecoach route from the west to the shore.
The renovation project to the circa 1816 building with an 1830s kitchen addition was overseen 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.
The County bought 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.
Consultants and contractors were hired to renovate the tavern through funds provided in part by grants through the New Jersey Historic Trust.
“This project began under the leadership of the late Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who was instrumental in advancing the renovations and preservation,” Haines said. “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.”
Annabelle Radcliffe-Trenner, principal of Historic Buildings Architects, LLC, Trenton, conducted a comprehensive preservation plan for the site as part of the project’s preliminary work. She designed the plans, managed the prequalification of contractors and oversaw the detailed and historically appropriate restoration work.
Trenner said, “I am so happy that Cedar Bridge Tavern has been recognized for the award. This is a tribute to the commitment to the highest level of historical preservation and sets a standard for others to reach.”
The restoration project 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 August 8, 2013. Ocean County celebrated the completion of the restoration at a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 1, 2019. tavern, located near the intersection of Routes 72 and 539 in Barnegat. It 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 additional information on the tavern, go to the Ocean County Parks and Recreation’s website oceancountyparks.org or the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission’s website co.ocean.nj.us/ch/frmCedarBridgeTavern.aspx.