GARDEN CLUB RFD TAKES ON MARLPIT HALL
In 1967, the Village Garden Club of Middletown planted an herb garden at Marlpit Hall, a property of the Monmouth County Historical Association. Built circa 1756, Marlpit Hall reflects both English and Dutch architecture, part of which is a showy Georgian-style center hall plan.
In 2002, the Village Garden Club was awarded a grant of $400 from the PETALS Program (Protect the Environment Through Action, Learning, and Service), co-sponsored by the National Garden Club, Inc. and the Shell Oil Company. While continuing to maintain the herb garden, lilacs, and other shrubs on the property, the plan was to use the Shell grant to start an historic perennial garden using flowers that were grown in the 1700s and 1800s.
Fast-forward to 2013. The Village Garden Club is no more, but one of its members, June Smith, is now a member of Garden Club R.F.D. that meets in another historic landmark, The Little Red Schoolhouse, on the corner of Dwight and Middletown Lincroft Roads in Middletown. Because of her efforts, R.F.D. has now taken up the task of improving and revitalizing the herb garden of Marlpit Hall along with fellow members Felicia Cappadona, Joyce Chappell, and Janet Steinberg. It is located on the left side of the property, with herbs and flowers a family would have used in the 1700s.
Marlpit Hall was home to the prominent loyalist Taylor family at the time of the Revolution. Edward Taylor endured house arrest for what he believed and the family lost much of its fortune and
influence. He was known to be a well-to-do-farmer and miller and a slave holder. Edward’s son, John, inherited the Hall from his father and it remained in the family until 1930 with the death of Mary Holmes Taylor, who never married. In 1930, it was sold to an antiques dealer on behalf of Margaret Riker Haskell who, in 1936, donated the house to the Monmouth County Historical Association, thereby making it the first restored house museum in the region. It is a key property in the National Register of Historic Places, Middletown Village District, and is listed on the New Jersey Women’s History Trail in honor of the work that Mrs. Haskell, a significant collector of Americana in the United States and a restorer of homes, did to preserve Marlpit Hall. It has been said that “walking through the house gives you a real sense of what life may have been like then. It’s almost like a doll house. At every turn, you can’t help wonder what the original owners were thinking and what motivated them all those years ago.”
On Tuesday, October 15, Garden Club R.F.D. members will meet at Deep Cut Gardens to hear about “Gifts from the Garden for Body & Soul,” presented by Molly Geary of Monmouth County Parks. She will demonstrate the use of herbs to make oils, vinegar, soaps, etc. Members will also exhibit line designs at this meeting. That will then be followed by a tour of the club’s newest project described above — the herb garden at Marlpit Hall, a short distance away from Deep Cut Gardens on Red Hill Road in Middletown.
The Garden Club R.F.D. is open to new members who are interested in the garden and the camaraderie of women with similar likes. To learn more, call June at (732) 671-9216.