Applegate Gertzel Homestead
E 260 Ward Street Applegate Gertzel Homestead
Antony (1739-1806) and Sarah (d. 1829) Applegate built the original section of this home soon after they bought this farmland from John Flight in 1774. Once they cleared trees from the dense woods on the property, the Applegates built a "side-hall" house, in which all four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs, opened onto a hallway that ran along one side of the house. These original four rooms still form part of the western wing of the house, which appears to the right of the front door in the above photograph.
Like most colonial farms in the township, the Applegates' was nearly self-sufficient. Their cows and chickens provided them with a fresh supply of milk, butter, and eggs. They raised livestock, such as pigs and cows, for meat. They also grew their own fruits and vegetables. Antony took wagon-loads of the wheat and corn they grew to local grist mills to be ground into flour for bread. Sarah made yarns for cloth by spinning wool from their sheep. Their descendants remembered that as the farm prospered, Antony and Sarah filled their home with fine linens, elegant claw-foot furniture, and a Lowestoft china tea set.
During the nineteenth century, the house underwent two significant renovations. Between 1835 and 1850, the Applegates' descendants turned the side-hall house into a center hall colonial by adding four rooms to the eastern side of the hallway (left, above). To blend the addition with the original section of the house, they also added Greek Revival doors and trim to the whole exterior A second renovation at the end of the nineteenth century moved the front door to the northern side of the house where it stands today. The front door bad originally faced Etra Road, the only road leading to the farm in the eighteenth century. Once the township built East Ward Street to lead to the new Ward Street Bridge (1897), the owners moved the front door to face Ward Street.
The farm came into the Gertzel family in 1917 when August W. Gertzel (d. 1933), a German-American miner from Alabama, bought it. Gertzel soon became active in local politics and served on the township council. To ensure that the farmland is never developed, August's descendants have entered it into New Jersey's Farmland Preservation Program.