Parker Homestead-1665 to Hold Open House

The Parker Homestead-1665, one of the oldest homes in America, will host an Open House and Community Social on Sunday, May 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event is free to the public.

Now undergoing extensive renovation, the Parker Homestead, at 235 Rumson Road in Little Silver, is a National Historic Site and considered one of the oldest dwellings still standing in New Jersey. It had been in the same family since 1665 to 1995 and recently has been the focus of renovations led by the town of Little Silver and Parker Homestead-1665, a nonprofit dedicated to its restoration.

On Sunday, May 18, the Open House will allow visitors to:
• Enjoy tours of the home and grounds
• Take part in a kids’ planting event, with every child taking home a seedling
• Witness the ceremonial planting of a red oak, New Jersey’s state tree, to commemorate the state’s 350th anniversary
• Visit the Monmouth County Historical Association and the Little Silver Environmental Commission tables to hear about their exciting projects

The event will also offer light refreshments and parents are encouraged to bring cameras for pictures of their children on a vintage, working tractor.

The charming Homestead was settled by brothers Joseph and Peter Parker in 1665 and remained in family hands for 330 years until 1995, when Julia Parker died and deeded the property to the borough of Little Silver. Julia Parker stipulated that the homestead be preserved as a historic landmark and used for historic educational purposes. Soon after, the contents of the house were removed and catalogued (ongoing), the structure was stabilized, the exterior of the house was painted, and the front porch was rebuilt.

The Homestead, already on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. It was also in 2012 that Monmouth County Municipal Open Space Fund awarded Little Silver a matching grant of $250,000 for the stabilization and restoration of the three barns, which include a cow barn, horse barn, and carriage house. Restoration is to begin soon by Nickles Contracting of Haddon Heights, which works specifically on restoration projects, including some of the state’s most significant historic structures such as Drumthwacket, Absecon Lighthouse, Lucy the Elephant, and closer to home, the Little Silver Train Station. The barns’ contents were removed recently and stored. Some of the farm implements from the property are already on display for a Monmouth County Historical Association exhibit on early farming entitled Farm: Agriculture in Monmouth County 1600-2013. For more details, visit www.monmouthhistory.org.

A Preservation Matching Grant for the first floor partial interior restoration was awarded in 2013. Restoration and cleanup of the farmhouse’s interior began soon after and has resulted in repairs to the flooring and removal of ceiling plaster in the front parlor, which revealed thick wooden beams original to this portion of the house. An enormous fireplace, big enough for several people to stand in, was also uncovered.

The Open House will be followed by a major fundraising effort by Parker Homestead-1665 in conjunction with the Monmouth County Historical Association and Sickles Market, Little Silver, on Saturday evening, September 13. The party, “As it Grows…,” will include a reception with tours of the historic Parker Homestead, a tented farm-to-table community dinner catered by star chef and local restaurateur David Burke, starlight dancing to live music, live and silent auctions, and a 50/50 raffle. Underwriting and sponsorships are available. Please call Laurie Bratone, development director for the Monmouth County Historical Association, at 732-462-1466, ext. 20 for further details and information.

Please join us on Sunday, May 18, for a celebration of this local treasure and a chance to hear more about its future. For more information about the Parker Homestead, please visit www.ParkerHomestead-1665.com.