A Walking Tour of Jamesburg

Welcome to Jamesburg, New Jersey

      Jamesburg is a small community in central New Jersey containing a very rich and glorious past combined with strong cultural ties and traditions. Since before its beginnings in 1887 as the Borough of Jamesburg, the community had a strong sense of history. Many of the original houses still stand. Despite this, Jamesburg's history is fading slowly into the sunset without proper preservation. Although there are many sites that could be recognized, these thirty-one sites are some of the best examples of Jamesburg's most notable landmarks and achievements. When walking through the Borough, take note of these places and their role in the development of Jamesburg. You will also find interspersed with the tour a commentary about some of Jamesburg’s “lost” buildings. Like the buildings you will see, these buildings played an important part in the town’s history and their former presence needs to be recognized.

Synopsis of History

      The earliest settlement in the town was at the mill site on Manalapan Brook. A mill was in operation as early as 1734. With the coming of the Camden & Amboy Railroad in 1831, the upper end of town began to develop. In 1853, the establishment of the Jamesburg & Freehold Agricultural Railroad caused Jamesburg to become a railroad hub. As you walk through town, streets in the older section bear the names of railroad pioneers (Gatzmer, Stockton, Stevens) or Civil War leaders (Hooker, Sherman, Lincoln). In 1887, Jamesburg separated from Monroe Township and became a borough. Today, Jamesburg is a primarily residential and commercial community with no industry within its area, nine-tenths of a square mile area.

The Walking Tour of Jamesburg

  1. Lakeview: Our tour begins at Lakeview, the home of our town’s namesake. Parts of this house go back to the 17th century. Be sure to take a tour if it is open. Looking across Buckelew Avenue, you will see beautiful Lake Manalapan. Now a recreation area, the lake played an important part in our town’s industrial history. The lower Jamesburg Station and the original building of the First National Bank of Jamesburg, established in 1864, were located where the present commercial building and parking lot now stand.

    Lakeview Mansion

    As you cross Pergola Avenue and walk past the water company, you will see the

  2. Professional Building: This building stands on the site of Mr. Buckelew’s grist mill and a silk mill. The present building was a butterscotch factory before being converted to its present use.
    Professional Building

    Your tour now continues down East Railroad Avenue.

  3. Jamesburg Post Office: Erected in 1962.

    Jamesburg Post Office

  4. William Courter House: Constructed in 1860. Mr. Courter was Mr. Buckelew's agent. It was later owned by the Kerwin Family. Today it is a professional building housing Family Framers, Monroe Foot and Ankle, and the Law Office of Stephen R. Philpitt.

    William Courter House

  5. Joseph C. Magee Mansion: This house was built by Joseph C. Magee around 1851, when he first arrived in Jamesburg. Mr. Magee engaged in mercantile pursuits and was active in merchandising and lumber. He served in the state legislature, where he chaired the important railroads and canals committee. He also served as a chosen freeholder of Monroe Township before his death in 1907.

    Joseph C. Magee Mansion

  6. Little Wonders Day Care: This building served as Jamesburg's Borough Hall and police department from 1962 - 2001. Before that it served as the Jamesburg Post Office between 1909 and 1962. For many years the second floor of this building served as the meeting place of the Odd Fellows.

    Little Wonders Day Care

  7. Intravatolo House: A Gothic Revival House with unusual character given by the use of a green-tinge stone. Its dormers were once hung with slate and its gables are steeply pitched. It is one of the few high-style large stone houses in Jamesburg. It was built by P. H. Pownall and the large stone barn at the rear with its slate-covered cross gambrels was originally used as part of his mortuary business. The house underwent major renovations in 2003.

    Intravatolo House

    At this point, turn right down Warren Street and walk to Stevens Avenue and turn left.

  8. Assembly of God Church Manse: This 1850 manse, adjacent to the Church, was moved to its present site from West Church Street, directly behind PNC Bank.

    Assembly of God Church Manse

    Walk down Stevens Avenue and turn left on Franklin Street. Follow Franklin Street back to East Railroad Avenue and turn right. Walking to the corner of East Railroad Avenue and Augusta Street, you see the

  9. Beckney House: Carpenter's Gothic style with gingerbread gable pieces. Built about 1860.

    Beckney House

    Now walk down Augusta Street. The second house after the alley marks the site of Jamesburg’s original Borough Hall and Fire House. The Jamesburg First Aid Squad used this building until it built its present building on Gatzmer Avenue. Passing the next house, you come to the Grace M. Breckwedel School. This school occupies the site of Jamesburg’s second elementary and first high school.

  10. Original Jamesburg High School: The original Jamesburg High School Building (School No. 2) stood at this end of GMB School. It was built in 1911 and remained a high school until 1932, when the high school moved to a new building on Forsgate Drive and Davison Avenue. It then became an elementary school until it was demolished in 1987 to build an addition to the Grace M. Breckwedel School. GMB replaced the town’s second elementary school, built in several stages beginning in the late 1800s.

    Jamesburg High School and Grammar School

    At GMB, turn left and walk down Stevens Avenue, crossing Vine and Hooker Streets, to Sedgewick Street. At the corner of Sedgewick and Stevens you’ll see the

  11. Senior Citizens' Center: This facility was originally the German Baptist Church and constructed in 1886 from two lots of land from the Davison estate (purchased for $150 each). With the financial assistance of G.W. Helme of Helmetta, the church was constructed. It became the Jamesburg Senior Center in 1976.

    Senior Citizens' Center

    Continue down Stevens Avenue to Lincoln Avenue. At the corner of Stevens and Lincoln you will see

  12. St. James the Less Roman Catholic Church, Hall, and Rectory: The original St. James Roman Catholic Church was constructed in 1879 on land donated by Mrs. James Buckelew. The church was demolished in 1958 when the present church opened. The St. James Rectory was built on its site in the early 1970s. The present church is located on the site of the original St. James Hall, demolished in 1950 after the completion of the present hall, the large white building behind the rectory.

    Saint James the Less Roman Catholic Church

    Now turn left and walk down Lincoln Avenue to

  13. Veterans' Memorial Park: Monuments at this triangular park honor soldiers of World Wars I & II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. Trees are dedicated to the service men that were killed. This is the site of annual Memorial Day services.

    Veterans' Memorial Park

    Walking past the park, make a right on to Gatzmer Avenue and walk down one block and look towards the railroad tracks.

  14. Upper Jamesburg and Jamesburg Junction: This area was a very busy railroad complex with passenger and freight stations, an engine house, roundhouse, and railroad yards. Nearby was a four-story brick hotel (Cruger's Hotel) built in 1856 by a Mr. Mount for James Buckelew. Today, most of the area is vacant. Busco Brothers Heating Oil occupies the area where the hotel stood.

    Busco Brother's Heating Oil

    Now walk back up to Lincoln Avenue and stop at the corner. Across the road is a Cumberland Farms and gas station. That area was once home to:

  15. Billy West's Early Tavern Site: Original stop on the Camden and Amboy Railroad called "West's Turnout". Later this area was the site of Buckelew Cannery and of a Buckelew Mansion called "Inverness". In 1847, tomatoes were first canned in tin cans by Harrison Woodhull Crosby, a Lafayette Professor, in the Buckelew Cannery.

    Cross at the crosswalks to Gatzmer Avenue. You will walk past Jamesburg Hardware, one of Jamesburg’s oldest businesses, and still located in its original building. Just past the hardware store, you will see

  16. The Library at Jamesburg: The Jamesburg Public Library was established in 1930 to serve Jamesburg, Helmetta, and Monroe Township. It was housed in the Grammar School No. 1, but was moved to a portable building which stood on the corner of Franklin Street and Stevens Avenue. This building was demolished and the library was moved to several other sites through the years. Finally, in 1948 it ended up in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. In 1955, fundraisers for a new library were underway. After many events to raise money, construction began in 1957 and the library opened its doors on Memorial Day, 1963.

    Jamesburg Public Library

    Walk past the Library and cut down the driveway between the Library and the Jamesburg First Aid Squad building to West Railroad Avenue. The First Aid Squad moved to this location in the early 1970s from Augusta Street. Once you reach West Railroad Avenue, turn right. Here you’ll see

  17. Jamesburg Fire House: The Jamesburg Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1900. Their headquarters was located on Augusta Street in Borough Hall. The current station was constructed in 1949.

    Jamesburg Volunteer Fire Department

    Continue your walk down West Railroad Avenue.

  18. Elk's Lodge: Originally the "Star Theatre", a first-run movie house of the early 1900s. The theatre closed in the mid-1950s.

    Elks Lodge

    When you come to Front Street, turn right. The house on the corner of Front and Gatzmer is the:

  19. Abraham Davison Homestead: The homestead was constructed in 1807. It was moved from its original site.

    Abraham Davison Homestead

    Continuing up Front Street you come to the:

  20. John F. Kennedy Elementary School: Originally Jamesburg School No. 3, but later renamed after President Kennedy's death. The school was built in 1959 and received its first addition and renovation in 1998.

    John F. Kennedy Elementary School

    Walk back down Front Street to Gatzmer, cross over, and turn right. Continue walking down Gatzmer Avenue to Church Street. On your left is the:

  21. The Presbyterian Church of Jamesburg: The church was organized on June 6, 1854. The land for the church was donated by Mr. James Buckelew. The building is in the gothic style and retains its original stained-glass windows and furnishings.

    Presbyterian Church

  22. Presbyterian Manse: This was the site of the first brick schoolhouse built by James Buckelew in 1847, at which time the community became known as "Jamesburg". The school was moved for the construction of the manse and rebuilt on the corner of Gatzmer Avenue and West Church Street. This building was destroyed by fire in 1888 and a new school was built on Augusta Street.

    Presbyterian Manse

    Now cross Gatzmer Avenue and continue down Church Street to:

  23. Forsgate Commons: This building was the former Jamesburg High School. The building was constructed in 1931 and served as an educational and cultural center until its closing in 1979. Today, professional offices fill its old classrooms and hallways.

    Jamesburg High School/Forsgate Commons: Today

    Leaving Forsgate Commons, walk along Forsgate Drive to:

  24. Fernwood Cemetery: General location of the Buckelew Family plot and the final resting place of James Buckelew, namesake of Jamesburg.

    Fernwood Cemetery

    Leaving the Cemetery, walk back down towards town. As you cross Perrineville Road, you’ll see:

  25. Jamesburg's New Borough Hall: Formally the American Legion Star Post 127 Hall.

    Jamesburg's New Borough Hall

    Cross Forsgate Drive and walk back to Church Street, turn right. At the end of the block, at the intersection of Church and West Railroad Avenue, you will see:

  26. PNC Bank: Building built in 1926 and housed the First National Bank of Jamesburg after it moved from the original building.

    PNC Bank

    Turning right at the bank, walk down West Railroad Avenue.

  27. Quality Bakery: Mendoker family business. A street is named after their family name.

    Mendoker's Quality Bakery

  28. Gandy-Brown Century 21 Real Estate: Building originally was C. M. Davison's General Store. Site of Jamesburg's first telephone exchange.

    Gandy-Brown Century 21 Realty

  29. The Emmons House: The Emmons House, located on the corner of West Railroad Avenue and Willow Street, where the Jamesburg Dollar Store now stands. It was once home to R. Lewis Furniture. The top portion of building was destroyed by fire in 1970s.

    The Emmons House, now Jamesburg Dollar Store

    The last block of West Railroad Avenue was:

  30. Site of Downs-Finch Shirt Factory: Constructed in 1871, the factory occupied the entire block between Forsgate Drive and Willow Street. At one time the factory manufactured 1000 shirts weekly, a world record.

    Site of Downs-Finch Shirt Factory

    At the end of West Railroad Avenue, Thompson Park will be across the street from you. As you look to the right, a creme colored house stands next to the park entrance. This is the:

  31. Nicholas Van Wickle House: This building was built in the Federal Style, Pre-revolution. It and the earliest section of the Buckelew Mansion are the only architecturally surviving buildings in town to last from the 17th and 18th centuries. Van Wickles were prominent early Dutch settlers. In 2005, the building was renovated and altered, losing almost all of its historical character, in order to house professional offices.

    Simon Van Wickle House

    This concludes your walking tour of Jamesburg. We hope that you found it enjoyable and educational. If you wish to return to Lakeview carefully cross West Railroad Avenue and the railroad tracks and turn right. Lakeview is just half a block down and across the street.

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