The Olcott Avenue Historic District in Bernadsville, NJ
The Olcott Avenue Historic District consists of several buildings dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These buildings were constructed over a thirty-year period. They include high-style buildings as well as vernacular ones popular during this period. The materials used in construction vary, but are generally characterized by frame and stucco construction. Many of the buildings incorporate local stone, including a school and church. This district also contains a number of noncontributing buildings, including a dentist office and a Methodist church.
The Olcott Avenue Historic District contains 56 contributing buildings, including dwellings, schools, a church, and a parsonage. Other buildings in the district lack sidewalks. The houses in the district are set back about thirty feet. Because of early deed restrictions, few front yards are fenced. In addition, the streets of the district feature mature shade trees that are well-spaced and have landscaping. These elements of the historic district are particularly prominent in Bernardsville.
The oldest dwelling in the district is a Craftsman-style house that was built in 1930. Its front slope is capped by a recessed shed dormer, a common feature of Tudor Revival architecture. The west side of the home features a single-story bay window. The engaging front porch of 36 Olcott Avenue is also a fine example of Colonial Revival architecture. Several of the structures are preserved in their original state.
Another home in the district is 15 Olcott Avenue, a two-story Craftsman dwelling that was constructed circa 1910. This house exemplifies early Foursquare influences. The home has a hipped roof and overhanging eaves. Its sash windows have solid shutters. The porch is enclosed by brick piers and a solid rail. A brick chimney is also prominent in the district.
In the early twentieth century, Olcott Avenue was the most fashionable street in Bernards Township, outside of Mountain Colony. The Shingle style house is an example of this period of architecture, though it is the only one in the Olcott Avenue Historic District. People of means also favored Colonial Revival center hall dwellings. Their symmetrical roof shapes and wide windows have contributed to the district's aesthetic appeal. In addition, the Olcott Avenue Historic District is home to several prominent community institutions, including Bernards High School and the former Visiting Nurse Association.
Another significant structure in the district is the Methodist Church. Built in 1913, this church replaced an older frame building at 22 Church Street. The building was designed by Dennison and Hirons, an architectural firm based in New York. They had a connection to Bernardsville through William Childs, the founder of the Childs Restaurant chain. The Church was built in the style of a rural English parish church, a style popular at the beginning of the 20th century for Protestant churches in the suburbs.
In 2009, the Olcott Avenue Historic District was formally established, including 56 contributing buildings. These buildings include a church and parsonage, three school buildings, thirty-seven dwellings, carriage houses, garages, and two World War I memorial plaques. In addition to contributing buildings, there are also a number of noncontributing buildings. These noncontributing buildings contribute to the character of the area but do not detract from its ability to convey the planned neighborhood during its period of significance.