Government

Bridgewater Township Considering Formally Renaming Section of Town 'Hobbstown'

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BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A part of Bridgewater Township may be getting a new official name in the near future.

The Bridgewater council discussed the possibility of formally renaming Somerville Manor to its more well-known appellation of Hobbstown.

The town’s governing body said it was interested in renaming the portion of Bridgewater located between Monmouth and Sussex avenues, near the post office, in honor of the Hobbs family, who will celebrate 100 years in Bridgewater in 2020.

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Council president Christine Henderson Rose asked her colleagues what their thoughts were on the matter.

Council vice president Matthew Moench said that when one speaks about Hobbstown, people know what area they aretalking about. 

“It makes sense to commemorate it by re-naming it (formally),” he said, but cautioned that perhaps residents in the area should be asked first.

Councilman Howard Norgalis agreed, and said he believes the township should get a “sound bite” from the residents. He also said he would like to see a map, and added that if the area had been identified by an ordinance, then that ordinance would need to be changed.

Rose said that perhaps the measure could be put back on the council agenda, for its second meeting in July.

Norgalis suggested not surprising anyone with a potential name change. Moench wondered if people even knew, and Councilman Allen Kurdyla said he had personally always known the area as Hobbstown.

“The Hobbs family has been influential to Bridgewater in that part of town,” said Kurdyla, who said he has never heard it referred to as Somerville Manor.

Rose said there is an actual sign detailing the area as Somerville Manor, and she asked deputy township attorney Chris Corsini to handle the logistics of getting the word out to area residents of a possible name change.

The historical story of Hobbstown and its relationship to Bridgewater is actually featured in the book “Hobbstown: The Forgotten Legacy of a Unique African-American Community”, written by Cindy Williams Newsome and available at amazon.com.

Individuals wishing to comment on the potential re-naming of Somerville Manor can email the clerk’s office at bwtclerk@bridgewaternj.gov

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