Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission
Cultural adn Heritage Commission is a division of The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation

Cedar Bridge Tavern - Barnegat, NJ

1938 photograph
of Cedar Bridge Tavern bar
Photo Credit: American Building Survey

The c.1816 Cedar Bridge Tavern of Barnegat, NJ is on both the New Jersey and National (8-7-2014) registers of historic places. The Ocean County Parks department purchased the tavern on December 27, 2007 granting the owner, Rudolph Koenig, a life estate until his passing in January 2012. The staff at Ocean County Parks & Recreation has removed over ten containers of non-historic materials and has cared for the landscape in an effort to maximize protection from forest fires. Under contract, Historic Buildings Architects (HBA) of Trenton has completed a successful nomination to the historic register of places and a comprehensive preservation plan for Cedar Bridge Tavern dated January 14, 2013. Under a separate contract, HBA is currently completing construction documents and permitting for the renovation of the structure.

The Cedar Bridge Tavern is a historic treasure that offers a unique window into the European experience in the New Jersey Pinelands. From about 1740, a saw mill existed on the nearby branch of the Wading River and the town grew around the intersection of a major east/west thoroughfare and a southern route to reach Egg Harbor and Tuckerton. Eventually, two taverns in this hamlet served the travelers, hunters and rural region. Historic maps from about 1750 show Pettit’s or Cedar Bridge as a named place on state and wider regional maps. A rich collection of traveler and academic references speak to the importance of this long overlooked community.

Today, Cedar Bridge Tavern is a gateway to the post industrial forests of the NJ Pinelands. Hundreds of students and adults tour the site each year. Many more are anticipated to visit when the renovation is completed. The tavern grounds have been the site of two digs (2010-2014) by the Monmouth University Archeology Field School directed by Dr. Richard Veit.

Cedar Bridge Tavern 1938
Photo Credit: American Building Survey

A ceremony commemorating the last documented land engagement of the American Revolution is held on the site each year on the Sunday closest to December 27. Historical research leaves some uncertainty as to which of the more than a dozen sites in what is now Ocean County named with the words “cedar,” “bridge,” and “creek” is the location of this multiple documented engagement.

In any event, on December 27, 1782, after searching for the notorious Captain John Bacon, Captain Richard Shreve of Burlington County Light Horse and Captain Edward Thomas of the Mansfield militia stopped with their men to refresh themselves at a nearby tavern. Bacon and his band of Loyalists surprised the Burlington militia and blocked their escape. As the militia gained the advantage, they were fired upon unexpectedly by a party of locals, who came to the aid and provided a diversion that allowed Bacon to escape. Among the Patriots, one was killed and four wounded. Four Loyalists were also wounded, including Captain Bacon.

Affair at Cedar Bridge Tavern
Photo Credit: Louis S. Glanzman

Cedar Bridge Tavern sits on wooded acreage in the Pine Barrens about a mile south of Route 72. To get a glimpse of the building you must travel down a bumpy dirt road, deep into the woods. Significantly, the original section of Cedar Bridge Tavern retains an early 19th-century bar, a character-defining feature not known to survive in any extant early American New Jersey tavern. The tavern also retains most of the original interior floor plan, including bar room, dining room, and bedrooms, along with most of the original doors, trim, windows, and fireplaces. Cedar Bridge Tavern is also significant for its ability to provide information on 19th-century farmsteads, taverns, consumerism, entertainment, and foodways in the New Jersey Pinelands region.

The property’s previous owner, Rudolph Koenig, a somewhat reclusive and mysterious man, occupied the historic building as his residence from 1959. He originally bought about 211.6 acres for $12,000 from the Penn Producing Company and eventually sold all but five of those acres to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

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