MODEL TRAINS, HOCKHOCKSON FARM ADDED TO OCTOBER 5 HOUSE TOUR By Laura Kolnoski
There are exciting new developments since we reported last month on the popular House Tour sponsored by the Colts Neck Historic Preservation Committee, scheduled for 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 5.
An operating model railroad layout, created especially for the tour by resident Bob Gassaway, will be located in the meeting room at Township Hall. Mr. Gassaway, who has owned and operated model trains for over 60 years, is an expert in the beloved tradition of classic model railroading. A member of the Train Collectors Association and partner in Roundhouse Train Conservators, LLC, he attends nationwide train shows, buys/sells trains, and constructs layouts. He specializes in steam engines from the 1800s to the 1950s, with a focus on the Pennsylvania Railroad. An active member of the Colts Neck Reformed Church, he has auctioned his renowned layouts for charity and conducts operating sessions for select friends in his famous basement.
Model railroad items will also be available for raffle that day, including a special “Jersey Shore” HO Scale freight car from the Atlas Model Railroad Company of Hillside, New Jersey. While the cost for the entire tour is $30, special pricing to view the trains only is $10 for adults. Children under 15, accompanied by an adult, will be admitted free.
Tour goers will now also enjoy the historic Hockhockson Farm on Route 537 East, a.k.a. “Cooke Farm.” Owned by the same family for 200 years, it is one of Colts Neck’s most historic sites. Set on 45 acres, it includes a pond, barns, and lush farmland. The residence, restored circa 1939 and updated over time, has been on the same foundation since its construction circa 1790. Its period décor is reminiscent of the various eras the home has survived. Among the family’s members is Dr. Robert W. Cooke, whose white wooden office in Holmdel was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. From roughly 1914 through the 1960s, Black Angus cattle were bred on Hockhockson Farm. President Dwight D. Eisenhower started his own ranch with stock from the farm.
The other sites on the tour are Montrose School, Abbey Farm on Montrose Road, the Ciccone House on Heyers Mill Road (former home of Colts Neck’s beloved “Honey Man” Harry Barth), and the Township Hall meeting room on Cedar Drive, where historic documents will be on display in addition to the model trains.
Tour tickets – $30 per person, $25 for senior citizens – can be purchased at Colts Neck Realty, 30 Route 537; Mulberry Market in the Colts Neck Shopping Center on Route 34; and Folio Art Glass, 273 Route 34. Tickets will also be available on tour day at Town Hall only. The $10 admission to view the model trains is only available at Township Hall on the day of the tour, cash preferred. Proceeds benefit the activities of the committee, including maintenance and upkeep of Montrose School and annual appearances by professional historic re-enactors in local schools.