The East Brunswick Museum collects, preserves and interprets the history of East Brunswick and the surrounding communities. It is a repository for area artifacts, documents, household and personal items portraying the heritage of the area. Exhibits display the social culture, industrial, political and business history of the local area. Programs include interpretive tours and visits with area historians and volunteers.
The Museum, located in the Historic Village of Old Bridge, in East Brunswick Township, is housed in the former home of the Simpson Methodist Church, which was built in 1862. The building was purchased by East Brunswick Township for use as a museum in 1977.
The Museum has a collection of artifacts from the industrial past including antique farming implements from the many local farms. The area had clay-rich soil, which was used in the manufacture of pottery, bricks, tile and terra cotta. The Museum’s collection includes local pottery from the Bissett, Morgan and Van Wickel Stoneware Factories. Also, in the collection, are tiles from the Old Bridge Enameled Brick and Tile Company. In additional to household decorative tiles, they made many of the tiles that line the walls in the Holland Tunnel and New York City subway system. The Boston & Philadelphia Brickface Company produced decorative bricks. Once you See the bricks up close, one has more of an appreciation of them on buildings.
James Crawford Thom, a 19thcentury landscape artist and area resident, incorporated scenes from the Village of Old Bridge in several of his paintings. The East Brunswick Museum has an extensive collection of his paintings, including “Winter in Old Bridge”. Born in 1835, Thom studied at an artist colony in Perth Amboy, NJ. He moved to the Village of Old Bridge in the 1870’s and later Atlantic Highlands, NJ and died in 1898. He is buried in the nearby Chestnut Hill Cemetery.
The Museum houses an extensive collection of early photographs of the homes and important places of interest in East Brunswick. Before European colonists arrived, the Lenape were early inhabitants. The Museum has a large collection of Native American artifacts including pottery shards, arrow heads and ax heads. There are also furnishings creating a replica Victorian parlor, kitchen and sewing room. Another display includes the personal papers and memorabilia of Governor Harold Hoffman, including his extensive collection of elephant figurines.
Visitors will have the opportunity to view these and other artifacts and displays to enhance their understanding of early life in East Brunswick Township and the surrounding area.