Cranbury Station hamlet gets green light for historic designation

One of several neighborhoods in Cranbury is the Cranbury Station hamlet.

The Cranbury Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will recommend to the Planning Board that the Cranbury Station hamlet be designated as an historic district.

The decision comes after two years of an HPC study, residents’ input and the gathering of documentation.

HPC Chairman Steve Golisano, Vice Chairman Thomas Walsh and members Bobbie Marlowe, Susan Ryan and Jennifer Suttmeier approved the measure in a meeting on July 20.

“This is something the HPC has been working on for a long time. We created the initiatives in the 2019-20 master plan to look at the possibility of adding these homes to create a historic district,” Golisano said.

“We worked extensively with the residents in the community of those houses and really paired and partnered with them. They have been extremely helpful and this has been a long time in the works,” he said.

The Cranbury Station hamlet is an unincorporated community of Cranbury Township that borders Monroe Township and contains Halsey Reed Road. Cranbury Station residents have been seeking to preserve the area as an historic district for years.

“Anyone can request consideration of an historic site or district, citizens, township officials, any interested parties. This initiates the designation process and is a multi-step process,” Cranbury’s municipal planner, Elizabeth Leheny, said. “After the properties have been identified or inventoried, HPC provides documentation of the properties, descriptions, photos, histories, etc.”

Following the HPC’s vote, the designation process will continue as the commission will send a report to the Planning Board.

The Planning Board may draft and adopt any necessary amendments to the historic preservation element of the master plan. Public hearings on any amendments to the master plan would follow.

Then the HPC will submit a list and a map to the Township Committee for adoption and to amend the land development ordinance. A first reading would occur before the committee, then head to the Planning Board for a consistency review, and back to the Township Committee for a second hearing and vote for adoption.

Cranbury Station still contains the former railroad station house which was on the Camden and Amboy branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

“There are homes there that date to the mid-19th century and they abut the Camden and Amboy railroad track and their history is intertwined with that railroad,” Leheny said. “The railroad established a station in Cranbury at this location in the 1830s and took passengers from New York and Philadelphia. By 1880, a hamlet had grown up around Cranbury Station.”

She said historic maps indicate the construction of the homes took place between 1850-60 and that residents had expressed concern about the impact from the development of surrounding warehouses on their historic homes.

“Residents called for the hamlet to be recognized for its historic value and the master plan recommended that Cranbury determine, working with HPC, whether the hamlet should be designated as an historic district to aid in its protection and preservation,” Leheny said.