Share |



Whether you are interested in the history of the area, family, people, architecture, there is always something going on. Feel free to contact the project sponsor to find out more about any of the ongoing projects.

Move your mouse over the collage and click to learn more...

Walking Tour of Basking Ridge Kennedy Stelle Farmstead Historical Preservation Awards Holiday House Tour Brick Academy Restoration Speaker Series


Education Programs

Programs and tours conducted by Bernards Township historian June O. Kennedy on the history of the Brick Academy and Basking Ridge are suitable for school and Scout groups. THSSH is also working to expand its youth history program. Click Here to visit THE KIDS CORNER

We will be looking to expand this program to other areas and include other topics of interest. Please let us know if you have a program or project to promote.

Back to Projects


(Inside the Brick Academy)

Published three times a year and sent to all of our members. Includes great information on the projects, events, activities, and historic stories and tales from our great area.

Become a member today and get your copy!

Back to Projects



The Historic Dunster Homestead

The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills applauds the efforts of many private and public individuals and organizations that are working relentlessly to help preserve this historical Bernardsville property.

Dunster HomesteadDunster Homestead

James was a revolutionary war veteran and most likely built this house sometime in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s. His son Oliver (1811-1891), except for a few years in his youth, lived his entire life in this house. Oliver and his family appear in every census between 1840 and 1880.

A copy of an 1850 map of Somerset County indicates an O. Dunster residence along Mine Brook Road. At the time, Dunster owned all the land on Round Top Mountain. Charles F. Squibb, whose father Edward Robinson Squibb founded Squibb Pharmaceuticals in New York, first appears in the 1910 census at the Mine Brook Road house. The Squibb’s continue to own the property through the last currently available census in 1930, when Charles’ eldest son John Squibb is listed as head of household.

The Belchers were next to own the property and were related by marriage to the Squibb family. Included in this document are two high resolution aerial photographs taken by R.M. Dickinson with Aero Photo Service on 21 Aug. 1933 of the property. Another photograph of the rear of the main house in the thirties is also included. Similar photographs taken in 2005 are also included. It’s amazing how little has changed on this property in the last 73 years.

In partnership with the Bernardsville Historic Preservation Committee, click here to learn more about the ongoing effort. Also visit our Facebook Page for more information.



Walking Tour of Historic Basking Ridge Village

Local Tours

The Walking Tour of Historic Basking Ridge Village is the first of a planned series of local walking and driving tours. The easy tour takes in the village center, which remains a favorite Bernards Township gathering place, with attractive shops and restaurants, including outside dining during warm weather.

Click Here to learn more about all of The Society's Tours

You may download a pdf version of the tour here or you may visit the Brick Academy to pick up a printed copy.

Click Here



Other historical tours can be found at:


Back to Projects


Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead

The historic Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead, a National Register site located at 450 King George Road in Bernards Township, is being preserved and operated by the Friends of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead, a separate organization from the Historical Society.

(Left - Barn picture taken September 2006)

For more information about the Farmstead, including becoming a member, click here.

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kennedy, who was the founder of the classical school that was eventually housed in the Brick Academy, conducted his school for several years, from about 1762 to about 1767, on a large farm he purchased four miles south of Basking Ridge. The farmstead had been established around 1740 by one of Basking Ridge’s earliest settlers, Nathaniel Rolfe. Later another early settler, Moses Doty, acquired the property and then sold it to Kennedy. Kennedy lived there only a few years. The property was then acquired by Ephraim Martin, a Basking Ridge native who, as a young man, had moved to Sussex County, where he first volunteered for militia duty just prior to the Declaration of Independence. Within a short time, Martin was commissioned as a Colonel in the Continental Army and served under Brigadier General William Alexander (Lord Stirling). During the war, he returned to Basking Ridge, and settled at the farmstead that is depicted on several Continental Army maps drawn by Erskine and DeWitt. After serving in the army, Martin was elected to the newly formed New Jersey state legislature where he served until his death in 1806. In 1795 the farmstead property passed to his stepsons, John and Oliver Stelle, and it remained in their family until the 20th century when it was broken up for development. Read the Stelle Diaries from 1847.



In 1999, a 36.5-acre portion of the original farmstead was purchased by Bernards Township with municipal open space funds. Four acres were leased by Bernards Township in 2005 to the Friends of the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle Farmstead who envision creating an environment reminiscent of the nineteenth century, where historic buildings, grounds, and gardens will be used for fine and performing arts. The property is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The Historical Society has supported this project since 1999, when several members first informed Bernards Township officials of the farmstead’s historic importance and spearheaded preservation efforts.

Click Here to visit the KMS Farmstead Arts Center -

Back to Projects


Peapack Limestone Kiln

Located on the east side of Main Street in Peapack, the Peapack Limekilns were donated to THSSH in 1996, when the adjacent property was being developed as a residential subdivision. THSSH created a pocket park featuring the kilns that was dedicated in May 1999 and is open to the public. The preserved kilns serve as an important reminder about the agrarian heritage of the Somerset Hills.

A limekiln operation existed in Peapack as early as 1794. By that time agricultural land in New Jersey was “wearing out,” and an important use for lime was as a soil additive used by farmers to increase the yield of their crops. Many farmers burned limestone in small kilns on their property, but the Peapack kiln was a commercial operation. Lime was also an important ingredient in mortar and whitewash. Lime would also have been used in the early leather-tanning factory that was located beside the Peapack River south of the kilns. An 1848 daybook kept by John Stelle, a farmer in southeast Bernards Township, records numerous trips to Peapack for lime during the winter months when roads were frozen or snow covered, making the 20-mile round trip wagon journey easier than during the warmer months when mud frequently made roads nearly impassable.

The Peapack area was a good source for limestone, which was quarried in the nearby vicinity well into the 20th century. The quarried limestone was loaded into the limekiln from the top, alternating with layers of fuel, such as charcoal early on and eventually coal. After burning for about 60 hours, the lime was removed from the bottom of the kiln.

The Peapack kiln is composed of two adjacent kilns separated by a vertical joint visible in the stone wall, which suggests they may have been constructed at different times. The front wall, constructed of hewn stone, is 26’ high and is set into the side of a hill that provided easy access to load the limestone and fuel from the top.

Click to Enlarge

A Sanborn insurance map from 1932 shows the Peapack Lime Company operation, with the two kilns labeled as “burners,” a nearby coal shed, a grinding room, and a large storage building.

Click Here to learn more about the Peapack Lime Kilns.



Back to Projects



THSSH Holiday House Tour

Holiday House Tour

Held in early December of alternate years, the Holiday House Tour is one of the Historical Society’s major fundraisers. This is a very popular event that draws hundreds of visitors to the area to visit selected residences in the Somerset Hills that typically include some of the area’s oldest and most charming homes and glamorous estates.

The House Tours aim is to welcome in the holiday's, showcase some of the areas most beautiful homes, and invoke a little sense to our area's history. 

A pleasant trip from the city, it is a day’s escape to earlier, simpler times.

A Victorian Christmas tree is just one of the decorations at the 1809 Brick Academy, which normally serves as the official Hospitality Center.

Learn More


Back to Projects


Speaker Series

Each spring and fall the Historical Society offers speakers and illustrated lectures on a wide variety of historic topics. Click Here for dates and information about the current series.

For suggestions on future topics or speakers, or more information on this project, feel free to Contact Us directly.

Back to Projects


Brick Academy Top Floor Restoration

The restoration of the Brick Academy has been a top priority of the Historical Society since 1975, when the first lease was signed. The goal is to interpret Brick Academy's top floor as a c.1890s classroom with related exhibits on early local education.

The 3rd floor is fully restored and availble for tours and school visits.

Click here for more about the history of the Brick Academy.

Back to Projects




the Brick Academy
Click to See the Exciting New Look of THSSH's Newsletter

Street Address:
The Historical Society
of the Somerset Hills
15 West Oak Street,
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
(908) 221-1770

Click Here

Hours of Operation:
Museum Open
First Sunday
of each month
(except Summer
and Holidays)
Research Room

By Appointment Only




Click Here to Learn More about volunteering and membership

Make a Donation Now to support History in the Somerset Hills

Social Media Links
Find Us on Facebook
Click to See THSSH on TwitterClick to See THSSH YouTube ChannelClick to see THSSH on Instagram


Search This Site

Home | About | News | Local Interest | Tours | Archives | Historic Photos | Students | Events | Research | Store | Volunteer | Contact Us
Directions | Membership | Affiliate- Reproductions | Links | Newsletter | Charter Day | Policies | Site Map | Donate