EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick’s historic homes, like in other surrounding communities, continue to dwindle in numbers. Remaining historic homes, however, one might find standing alongside heavily traveled roads. However, those that were built further from the road on their farms were either destroyed, moved, or in some instances, had neighborhoods built around them. One particular home is located on Farms Road and Hilltop Boulevard and rests in the midst of a neighborhood. The house was recently purchased by Kristin Bauer. Not much was known about this home. It dates to the 1800s. Some research in the deed office at the Middlesex County Archives in South Brunswick reveals details about the property and its past owners.
At one time, the Herbert family lived in this house. The Herberts came to East Brunswick around the turn of the century to an area that would be known historically as ‘Herbert’s Corner.’ The Herberts were spread throughout the township. Not far from the house, however, they also had a home at the present-day site of Wawa on Ryders Lane. No one is 100% certain as to when the house was first constructed, but property and deed transfer records show how far back the property itself goes.
Existing records show that the property’s earliest-known owner was Ephriam Dunham, the grandfather of Revolutionary War veteran, Jehu Dunham (for whom Dunham’s Corner is named). He would later transfer the property to Elisha N. Blew in 1827. Blew would then transfer the property over to William Dunham in 1835. Dunham was born in 1799. After marrying Hannah, the couple bore eight children between 1836 and 1852. It is likely that the house was built under his ownership around 1850. He later purchased an additional ten acres from Abraham Bucklew.
Dunham passed away in 1854, leaving his wife to manage the property. Unfortunately, she lost the land in 1861 during a county sheriff’s sale. Following her loss, the land was sold to Mathias Allgair, who emigrated here from Germany two years prior. At some point, however, Ann Regan had purchased the land. In 1895, five tracts of the land were then sold to George F. Smith at a cost of $2,500. In 1913, Smith sold the land to Charles H. Herbert. Herbert passed away on January 21, 1932, and the property was left to his son, Russell B. Herbert, who was a tax assessor for the township. In 1941, the property was left to the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation. By 1952, the surrounding farm had been built over by residential development. Fortunately, the house was spared and has remained in its spot ever since.
Kristin Bauer, an art teacher, moved to this house relatively recently. She and her then-boyfriend were looking for a home. They both fell in love with the home instantly and made an offer from the driveway before they departed. When they finally moved into the home, they discovered some fascinating features. They found that the floor joists were made from tree trunks. They also discovered horse hair in the mortar of the brick walls inside some bathroom closets. One unique piece of design has a room that cuts directly into the staircase. These attractive historic elements were enough to have the house featured in the January/February edition of Cottages and Bungalows. The magazine describes the house as “enchanting and inspiring.” Bauer, like other history enthusiasts, recognizes the historic value of the home. She told TAPintoEast Brunswick, “I couldn’t help but notice that so many amazing historic homes are being torn down. They are such a precious gift to see in person and to have the honor to live in. Keeping our home decor true to its original grandeur is so important to me. I wanted our home to be given the title/honor it deserves for surviving so many years and having so many loving families care for it.”
Bauer hopes to restore the home to its original look and wants it registered as a historic home in the state of New Jersey.