by Amy Littleson
If you ever wondered about what Fair Haven was like when it was first founded, here are the pictures and history to inform you. We all know that Fair Haven was established quite some time ago, but few know that many of the town’s landmarks and houses have been around for that long, too.
Historic Fair Haven was settled in 1816 when Jeremiah Chandler built a home on the riverbank of what is now Fair Haven Road. The Navesink River provided an economic foundation for the growing community. By 1850, “Chandler’s Dock” was built on the river at the base of Fair Haven Road, and steamboats from the New York-Red Bank route stopped regularly, transporting oysters and other resources to the city.
The mid-19th century witnessed construction of many houses along the road leading to Chandler’s Dock. Now called Fair Haven Road, the street was then the heart of town. At different times the street was known as “Clam Shell Road,” “VanTine Street,” and “Pearl Street.” At the same time, adjoining streets such as Clay, DeNormandie, Gillespie, and adjacent parts of current day River Road were constructed and developed. In acknowledgment of the many 19th century homes still found there, this part of town has become popularly known as the “Old Village.”
By the late 1800’s, the development of the Old Village was largely complete. Later years would see at least two other periods of major building in town, but through the past century, the original Old Village has remained remarkably unchanged and intact, and retains a great deal of its 19th century appearance and atmosphere. Today the Old Village is contained in a Historic District, the section of town composed of historic homes.
Fair Haven remained a part of Shrewsbury Township until March 28, 1912, when it was incorporated as a borough by the Act of the New Jersey State Legislature.
Below are historic pictures of the 1.7 square mile Fair Haven community, and what the town looks like today.
This statue was dedicated on August 16, 1924. A parade from Lake Avenue to the eastern end of town, led by Marshal Dr. Edwin F. Stewart, began the major celebration. A bronze plaque on the base is inscribed with the names of forty-nine Fair Havenites who served in the World War I. Today these veterans are still honored by the statue.
The Fireman’s Fair, an annual week-long event in August, is the largest public gathering in Fair Haven. In 2002, a family plays a game at the fair, and in 1976, local boys contemplate their next ride.
The Shrewsbury River Yacht Club in 2009 and 1950, where it still harbors sailboats and sailors.
The Joyce House at 50 Fair Haven Road was first bought in the early 1890s. The view presented in this 1910 image shows how little this house has changed through the years.
The house on the northeast corner of Fair Haven Road and Clay Street, number 55, still bears a strong resemblance to its structure nearly 90 years ago in 1920.