PHOTO: Parker Homestead in Little Silver. Credit: Allan Dean
LITTLE SILVER – It was standing room only Sunday afternoon as everyone from Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno to the Atlantic Chorus joined local officials and members of the Parker Homestead-1665 Inc. for a ribbon cutting ceremony that officially opened, as part of the museum, the three barns on the property that are part of the 330 year heritage of this historic site.
Guadagno was principal speaker at the outdoor event, and related 20th century history of the property first prominent in the 17th century and part of an original King’s Patent. Guadagno noted its importance 300 years later with a heartwarming story of her husband’s growing up years near the farm, and the importance the Sickles family, descendants of the original Parkers, put on the importance of high quality, not only in growing produce but also picking and preparing it for meals.
The homestead, located at 35 Rumson Rd, is one of the oldest structures, not only in New Jersey but in the United States.
Two generations of Sickles farmers were also highlighted at the ceremony, and spoke on the eight generations of Parkers that not only preserved the history of the farming family, but also the generosity and foresight of Julia Parker, who willed the property to the borough as an historic site.
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The Museum, which includes the Parker House, spacious grounds and the three recently restored barns tells the story beginning with the April 8, 1665 formal oust of the Dutch from the region and the Monmouth Patent grant from the King of England which gave all land from Long Island to Barnegat to 12 proprietors charged with settling the area with at least 100 families within three years. Peter and Joseph Parker and their brother-in-law John Slocum came from Rhode Island to purchase land and settle in 1667-68. Their original homestead was added on to over the years, but remained in the Parker family until 1995 when Ms Parker, passed away gifting it to the town.
PHOTO: Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Parker Homestead for the newly renovated barns. Credit: Allan Dean
Freeholder Lillian Burry, a staunch supporter of historic preservation throughout the County, and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin each presented commendations to the town and historic group for their achievements in preserving the site; Burry also declared the day to be Parker Homestead Day throughout Monmouth County.
Mayor Robert C Neff, Jr. congratulated the Parker Homestead volunteers, both past and present, for their years of dedication in making the historic site become not only a state and national historic site, but also a popular site to visit. Guadagno noted how historic sites are a source of economic value to a community by means of increasing tourism to the area. The borough and non-profit organization have worked closely together since the property was first deeded to the borough in creating the historic preservation of the site.
Even the music during the ribbon cutting ceremony recognized the significance of history. With the Little Silver Boy Scout troop providing an honor guard, the Chorus of the Atlantic, a Red Bank Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, sang the National Anthem and God Bless America, under the direction of Craig Page. In introducing the song, Page pointed out Irving Berlin’s classic was written at the onset of World War I and revised in 1938 as an international war was brewing in Europe and the song was first sung by Kate Smith.
When the Chorus sang America the Beautiful, Page noted the music was composed by a New Jersey organist and choirmaster, Samuel A. Ware of Grace Episcopal Church in Newark.
For more information on the Parker House and its open hours, visit www.parkerhomestead-1665.com