1717 - The original Bernards Township (Bernardston) area (3,000 acres) was purchased by John Harrison, agent of King James III of England, from the Lenape Indians in 1717 for only $50. That's only 1.6 cents per acre!
One of the most noted events in Pluckemin was The Grand Alliance Ball of 1779 in Pluckemin. General Washington and 400 others attended the celebration held on the grounds of the Boylan House in 1779. The ball celebrated the first anniversary of the alliance with France, which ended in victory for the allies at Yorktown. The ball was attended by more than 400 dignitaries. George and Martha Washington attended the ball that took place on grounds of what was the John Boylan home, near the northwest side of the Cornelius Eoff farm.
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About The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills
Founded in 1928 originally as the Historical Society of Basking Ridge, the mission and name of the society was later changed to The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization including all five communities of the Somerset Hills region: Bedminster Township, Bernards Township, Bernardsville ,Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone which are all located in Somerset County, New Jersey.
The mission of The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills (THSSH) is to acquire, conserve and share local artifacts and information on matters of local historic interest; cultivate interest in local history; encourage the preservation of local historic resources; facilitate historic research; and preserve, operate, and interpret the Brick Academy.
The Historical Society's headquarters is at the Brick Academy, formerly known as the "Old Academy" and the "Academy Building" in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township, where our collections of items of local historic interest are available to the public. Click Here to learn more about the history of the Brick Academy.
In the pages of this website you will find historical information, news, programming, research, online archives, and stories about our history, on current programs and upcoming events., . We hope you will visit us often – online and in person.
Special thanks to Bianca Pichamuthu, Ridge High School Class of 2010 for creating this overview video as part of our Young Historians community service efforts.
Founded in 1928 originally as the Basking Ridge Historical Society, the name was changed in 1988 to The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills to include the five communities of Bedminster Township, Bernards Township, Bernardsville, Far Hills, and Peapack-Gladstone.
THSSH’s mission is to acquire, conserve and share historic artifacts and information; cultivate interest in local history; encourage preservation; facilitate research; interpret the Brick Academy; and operate the local history museum. The By-laws of the non-profit organization calls for a Board of Trustees to govern the operation. The board meets monthly and conducts 2-4 General Membership Meetings annually.
Our committees, including Museum, Education, Publicity, Speaker Programs, Website/Social Media, Publicity, Membership and Clerical, are an excellent opportunity for volunteers to focus on a specific area of the organization that is of personal interest! The Historical Society is headquartered at the Brick Academy, in Basking Ridge town center. The 1809 Federal-style building was constructed by Reverend Dr. Robert Finley as a classical school that prepared young men for college. Through the years it has served as a public school, union meeting hall, and municipal building. Today, the Brick Academy, listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, comprises a museum of local artifacts, a 1890s schoolroom and a research center.
The Basking Ridge Historical Society (BRHS) was officially organized on October 23, 1928. The society was incorporated March 2, 1935. and continued with its name until October 10, 1988. The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills (THSSH) restructured in 1988 - Present
Board of Trustees/Executive Committee
Based on the bylaws of THSSH - trustees are nominated by a Nominating Committee and elected to serve one year terms by THSSH members at their September Membership meeting. Based on those elected, the Trustees then nominate and elect the Executive Committee including the Chair, President, Treasurer, and Recording Secretary to serve the following year.
Paula Axt - Education
Brooks Betz - Programming Chair, Membership Chair, Online Communications
Cynthia Crosson - Research & Archivist Chair
Greg Gonzalez - Treasurer
Patricia Gray - Hospitality Co-Chair
Florence Hallgring - Advertising
Daniel Lincoln - Historic Preservation & Restoration
Robin Marion - Secretary
Marcella Miccolis - Newsletter
Margaret Skelly - Education Chair
Lawrence Terricone - Grounds Chair, Research
Meg Wastie - Education
Sue Zibelli - Chairman, Museum Curator, Publicity
Volunteering to serve on one of our committees is one of the most rewarding reasons for joining our organization. Be part of a group of dedicated volunteers and members that continue to work to educate, learn, and serve our community.
The Brick Academy serves as a museum of local artifacts and information, the only one of its kind in the Somerset Hills. The top floor is a restored 1890s period schoolroom with an authentic pot belly stove, period furniture and early education displays. The museum is open to the general public the first Sunday of each month.
Key responsibilities of the Museum Committee include:
Review and process artifacts for acquisition and de-acquisition in accordance with museum policies, and maintain the acquisition computer database
Source, identify, photograph, label, and display (or store) artifacts in the Brick Academy
Design, install and maintain Museum exhibits throughout the Brick Academy
Provide artifacts from THSSH collections on short-term, long term or permanent loan, and process relevant documentation in collaboration with other history organizations
Design, install and maintain exhibits at Somerset Hills libraries, partner museums and other venues upon request (e.g. Somerset County Administration Building)
Manage various projects to enrich the museum experience
Contact: Sue Zibelli Committee Members: Sylvia Gambony, Larry Terricone, Pat Gray
The mission of the Education Committee is to carry out youth and adult educational programming; to share information on matters of local historic interest; and to cultivate interest in local history in support of the Historical Society’s mission.
Elementary School Programs - Currently offered to the five Bernards Township elementary schools. The Education Committee hopes to extend these programs to Bedminster, Bernardsville, Far Hills, and Peapack-Gladstone. - Basking Ridge History & Flag - Brick Academy & Walking Tour - How Children Played! - Early American Schoolhouse (sponsored by The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts)
The Adult School of the Chathams visits 2016 & 2017
Craft Sundays - A hands-on education program to engage young children in learning about history through early American crafts
Brick Academy Guides/Docents training
Young Historians Program
Scout Troops - Somerset Hills scouts visit the Brick Academy to fulfill the American Heritage Badge requirement
Contact: Margaret Skelly Committee Members: Paula Axt, Meg Wastie,
Each year The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills sponsors a number of programs, events, lectures, guest speakers, and interesting tours of the communities in and around the Somerset Hills. We are always interested in hearing your thoughts and suggestions for future events and tour ideas. Volunteers are are ALWAYS welcome.
The program committee incubates, coordinates, and supports THSSH programs. The committee works with committee chairs, event leads and the executive committee to manage the scheduling and reporting of events, event ideas, program and committee meetings and membership interaction. The Program Committee also interacts with other local organizations in the Somerset Hills with our consolidated event calendar for other historic organizations in the Somerset Hills.
Somerset Hills History Village - Brooks Betz/Coordinator
Historic Home Plaque Program - Larry Terricone/Coordinator
Contact: Brooks Betz Committee Members: Paula Axt, Larry Terricone, Meg Wastie, Margaret Skelly
Do you enjoy event planning? Decoration and activitie ideas? Then the Hospitality Committee is for you. Plan, purchase, setup, and cleanup for THSSH programs or functions with decorations, themes, food, and refreshments. Essentials include food, beverages, paper and plastic products, tablecloths, flower arrangements, and decorations.
Contacts: Robin Marion & Pat Gray
The lower level of the Academy serves as a research room and contains books, photographs, documents, postcards, maps, deeds, family and street files and more. You can visit the Research Room during any of our open houses, or you can also make an appointment to schedule a personal visit.
Contact: Cynthia Crosson Committee Members: Larry Terricone
Click Here to Contact Us
‘Inside the Brick Academy’ newsletter contains special announcements, event calendar and feature articles. The February edition includes the Annual Report of the Historical Society required by Bernards Township. The newsletter is published three times per year (February, May and September) and is distributed to THSSH members, Somerset Hills municipalities, local libraries, and select Historical Societies. Interact with the local print shop to design and produce newsletters, marketing literature, promotional pieces, and office stationery.
February - Submission Deadline/February 1 - Mailed February 15
May - Submission Deadline/May 1 - Mailed May 15
September - Submission Deadline/September 1 - Mailed September 15
Contact: Marcella Miccolis
The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills maintains a high-profile online presence with a dedicated website: www.thssh.org. Key components of the website include Announcements & News, Event Calendar, Historical Research of the Somerset Hills, Historic Districts & Landmarks, Vintage Photographs, Archive Collection, Brick Academy Museum Store, Volunteer Programs, Walking Tour of Basking Ridge Village, Discussion Groups, and THSSH general information. The Historical Society participates in popular social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Goggle Plus, and dedicated history blogs. In addition, the Brick Academy, headquarters of the Historical Society, has an informative entry on Wikipedia online encyclopedia.
An important objective for the Historical Society is to constantly grow and maintain membership. Developing membership drives and initiatives is a top goal for THSSH. Current membership initiatives are through the organization’s website, at community events and at the Brick Academy. Welcome packages are sent to new members including a welcome letter including benefits, a THSSH Membership Directory, Volunteer pamphlet, and the most recent ‘Inside the Brick Academy’ newsletter.
The Membership Committe recently launched a new online membership capability. Now you can join, renew, or update a membership in just a few minutes. Click Here
The mission of the Membership Committee is to also identify and maintain memberships with affiliate organizations - Compose correspondences related to affiliate organizations. THSSH is a current member of The Somerset County Historical Society; League of Historical Societies of New Jersey; National Trust for Historic Preservation; and Preservation New Jersey.
Annual Membership Renewal process typically commences in early November each year.
Contact: Brooks Betz
Coordinators: Tom & Karen Fitzsimons
Gardens & Grounds
Supervise the landscape design and seasonal maintenance of the Brick Academy gardens and grounds - Collaborate with the Basking Ridge Garden Club and local florist shops for special holiday and/or event decorations.
Contact: Larry Terricone
As a member of this committee, you will be involved with the keeping the Brick Academy in tip top shape. This is a group of typical craftspeople that can perform small maintenance tasks or locate those who can do minor repairs to the Brick Academy.
Contact: Mike and Debra Reynolds
Serves to run the administrative functions of THSSH.
THSSH Supports Our Areas History
THSSH is one of the main historic organizations in the Somerset Hills.
Learn about other organizations that support history and preservation in the Somerset Hills. Click Here
The contents of this site, including all images, text, sound, video, and other electronic representations may be reproduced for educational purposes under the doctrine of fair use. The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills encourages the broadest possible access to and utilization of the collections it holds in the public trust. Reproduction for purposes other than fair use or for other than educational purposes is permitted only with the Society's written permission, and it is the responsibility of the party using the reproduced material to ascertain its copyright status and to obtain the necessary permission from the copyright holder to use the material.