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The Birth of a Historical Society

The birth of the Cranbury Historical Society was announced in June 1967 and incorporated in November 1970. Today we are thankful for the insight of the founders to form a Historical Society committed to work for the preservation and beautification of Old Cranbury, its land and historic buildings and to promote its history through research and publication. Richard Tolbert, the first president of CHPS, recalled going door to door in 1967 soliciting hundreds of villagers for a $2 membership fee. The major themes contributing to the successful response to the membership drive were Cranbury’s Master Plan and Preservation. All residents were invited to submit materials on their homes and families to the society, including deeds, pictures, history of their homes and genealogies. As a result of the extensive research and documentation of Cranbury’s historic buildings all through the 1970’s by CHPS members, Cranbury was included in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in 1979 and a year later, in 1980 placed on the National Register of Historic Places. CHPS is also a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and of the league of Historical Societies of New Jersey. Today CHPS owns the Cranbury Museum and the 1713 East Jersey Cottage and manages the History Center as well as the Parsonage Barn, which are owned by the town. The Cranbury Museum, celebrating its 50th year in 2022, is home to the historical artifacts gathered over the years. The Elizabeth M. Wagner History Center houses the visual, oral and written historical records, artifacts, the society’s textile collections, and the gift shop. The Parsonage Barn, a treasured historical example of life long ago and finally, the newest property, the 1713 East Jersey Cottage, one of the oldest homes in New Jersey. All of this has been possible because Cranbury residents cherish the historical aspect of our town and have been willing to volunteer and share their time, talents, and resources.

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