120th Anniversary Series – November


A look back at the second decade of MCHA, from 1908 – 1918, shows an increase in the size and scope of membership with an important transition in leadership, as well as an established routine for meetings and administration that reflects the gracious tempo of life for many residents of Monmouth County during this era.



By 1909 there were 180 members of the Association with a few new members approved at most meetings. In 1911 a class of 52 members was elected including such prominent citizens as Herbert N. and Percy S. Straus of R.H. Macy & Co. as well as leading financiers Paul M. and Felix M. Warburg. During this period the Association began to concentrate on expanding its membership to represent a larger segment of the County. Vice Presidents were appointed to recruit MCHA participants from Shrewsbury, Middletown, Freehold, Neptune and Ocean and later a membership soliciting committee was created. Another large class of 28 was welcomed to MCHA in 1917, which included Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, who would become one of the most pivotal members of the Association until her death in 1942.



This decade also saw a change in Association leadership. At a 1911 meeting in her Locust home, MCHA founder Mrs. Caroline Gallup Reed tendered her resignation as President after thirteen years of service, citing “advancing years and the necessity for her to be as free as possible from unnecessary responsibilities”. The trustees accorded her the official title Founder – President Emeritus. The Honorable John S. Applegate became the second President until his death in 1916. He was succeeded by Edward Dean Adams of Rumson and then, in 1918, by William Allen Patterson of Middletown.



During the earlier years of this period, MCHA meetings were held monthly from May through October, in deference to members who spent the winter months in New York City and elsewhere. After dealing with Association business, one or more speakers would present a paper on a topic of interest to the group, often but not always dealing with New Jersey history. Presenters included scholars from Princeton, Columbia and Oberlin Universities in addition to professional historians and literary minded Association members. The topic of the Revolutionary War was especially popular and on occasion the lectures were illustrated with stereopticon slides and a “magic lantern” an early type of image projector.



Meetings were held most frequently at the residences of members living in Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright and Middletown. However by 1913, reflecting the broadening of the membership base, the Association began gathering at locations further afield in the county including Keyport, Freehold, Spring Lake and Sea Girt. Members began to enjoy meeting at fine buildings throughout the county such as The Quaker Meeting House in Shrewsbury, the new club house at Rumson Country Club and the Navesink Library now the Navesink Arts Center. According to MCHA records, the Association held two particularly notable meeting in 1917. On June 28 members commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth at the Old Tennent Church near Freehold. Several months later Mr. and Mrs J. Amory Haskell hosted the organization at Oak Hill Farm in Middletown, affording the members the opportunity to view the burgeoning Americana collection a passion of Margaret Riker Haskell. Mrs. Haskell would go on to donate much of her collection to MCHA.



During the earlier years of MCHA, the official headquarters was located in the Spinning and Patterson Building in Red Bank. This building on the corner of Broad and Front streets for many years housed the clothing store Natelsons and is now home of Urban Outfitters. In 1910, the Association decided to relocate the headquarters to the Davidson Building, also in Red Bank and adjacent to the office of then MCHA President John S. Applegate. Prominent local architect Joseph Swannell designed the space, incorporating display cases, bookcases and room for tables.

Monmouth County Historical Association

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