Freehold Borough History Timeline

1683- Freehold area is officially settled. A band of Scotsman made their way inland and settle in the area around Freehold. The area is called "Topanemus" by the native Lenni Lenape people.

1713- The original Monmouth County Courthouse is erected. The courthouse has been rebuilt several times after fires.

June 28, 1778- Battle of Monmouth is fought. General George Washington engages British General Clinton's troops in fields west of Freehold and snatches victory from impending disaster as he forces the retreat of British troops. Also on this day Molly Pitcher brought water to thirsty Continental soldiers and took over her husband's cannon when he is felled by British gunfire.

January 1, 1795- The post office of the village is established and designated on the records as "Monmouth Courthouse." The first postmaster is Samuel McKinstry.

November 24, 1816- Future governor of New Jersey (1863-66 and 1872-75) Joel Parker was born in Freehold.

1824- The American Hotel and its accompanying restaurant are built. Enlarged in 1928, the building still stands today.

April 12, 1834- The "Monmouth Democrat," a newspaper,is founded by Bernard Connolly.

December 1853- Freehold Driving Club is established. The race course is the scene of the Monmoth County Agricultural Fair and horse trotting races are a major attraction. The course is later named Freehold Raceway.

February 21, 1861- President-elect Abraham Lincoln travels across New Jersey and through Freehold on his way to the White House.

April 20, 1872- The Freehold Fire Department organizes. The first company was Good Will Hook and Ladder, under a charter passed by the Legislature.

October 30, 1873- The first fire after the Fire Department organization was the Inquirer Building, located near Main and Court Streets. The nearly uncontrollable fire jumped Court Street and burned the County Court House (now the Hall of Records).

February 1875- Hudson Street graded school was built. High School was held on the top floor.

June 28, 1877- Former New Jersey Gov. Joel Parker, a longtime Freehold resident, delivered the commencement address for the Freehold Institute in ceremonies at the Presbyterian Church. Parker called for construction of a Monmouth Battlefield Monument and that the Monmouth Democrat editor, Maj. James S. Yard, organize the committee.

November 13, 1884- The completed monument was dedicated with the figure of Columbia Triumphant(modeled on actress Mary Anderson)at the top of the shaft and five bronze tablets,depicting scenes from the battle, around the base.

September 11, 1886- The second large Freehold fire started nearly opposite the street from the great '73 fire. The location was Perrine's Department Store on Main Street which was completely destroyed along with Taylor's Hotel, seven stores plus one barn.

August 15, 1894- Columbia Triumphant statue on top of the battle monument is struck by lightning during a vicious storm, causing severe damage to the lower half of the statue.

1903- A $10,000 contribution was given by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie toward the building of the Freehold Public Library.

1904- The A&M Karagheusian Rug Mill is founded by brothers Arshag and Miran Karagheusian. They bring weavers from Great Britain to work the looms. By 1928 the company becomes nationally known for its flagship product, the Gulistan carpet. In 1957 Karagheusian begins phasing out production in Freehold and in 1962 all operations are moved to North Carolina.

1908- A New High School is built on the corner of Hudson and Bennett streets, it opened in 1909 with eight teachers.

1915- The first motor-driven apparatus was purchased by the Freehold Fire Department. Prior to that, all trucks were hand-drawn.

September 15, 1919- The first regular council meeting of the newly incorporated Borough of Freehold. Freehold's first police officer, Joseph E. Clancy, was hired for a salary of $3.00 per day.

November 3, 1919- An ordinance was adopted which established a police department consisting of "two or more officers with one to be designated 'Chief of Police.'"

February 1920- American Legion Post 54 formed under the then Post Commander Dr. John C. Clayton.

1925- What is then called Freehold High School on Route 79 is built.(In 1955 it became Freehold Regional High School and is now called Freehold Boro High School)

April 19, 1930- Court House fire severely damaged the front corridor, stairway to the second and third floors plus the town clock in the tower.

February 11, 1933- A fire at the three story Belmont Building which housed eight stores on the first floor and a hotel in the upper floors. Extensive damage resulted, requiring the entire building to be razed.

August 2, 1933- Polchak's Cloak factory, located in alley off Mechanic Street near Hudson, started burning on an extremely hot day. As fire men were readying hydrant connections, other firemen were at the front door waiting for the water to be turned on when a gasoline tank inside the building exploded. As a result, 14 men were seriously burned. Three of them, Joseph Storey, Lester VanSchoick and LeRoy VanSchoik died of the injuries.

September 1941- The Freehold First Aid squad is established by 15 A&M Karagheusian Rug Mill workers.

November 11, 1942, 11:00AM- The Freehold World War 2 Honor Roll is dedicated in front of the old Court House.

December 3, 1946- A total loss fire at the Mulholland Building, located at 37-39 East Main Street. The building housed three stores on the ground floor and three apartments on the second floor.

September 23, 1949- Bruce Frederick Springsteen is born to Adele and Douglas Springsteen of Randolph Street.

November 1960- A&M Karagheusian Rug Mill closes the mill in Freehold and moves south.

April 7, 1962- A fire burned from 7 to 23 East Main Street. There was complete distruction, this fire took nine stores, the apartments and offices on top and the lobby of the Strand movie theater.

February 26, 1964- A fire burned from 36 to 44 West Main Street. Lost were a bowling alley and several stores.

July 1965- 36 acres of debt free land on County Road 537 is purchased to build the Greater Freehold Area Hospital.

December 1, 1968- Groundbreaking is held for the new Freehold Area Hospital.

May 19, 1969- Racially motivated disturbances erupted in town. This "riot" was written about in the Bruce Springsteen song "My Hometown."

September 21, 1971- Greater Freehold Area Hospital, now CentraState Medical Center, opened.

May 4, 1984- A fire completely destroys the grandstand of the Freehold Racetrack.

November 18, 1984- A rededication of the Battle of Monmouth Monument is held at the monument site on Court Street. A time vault with items of local interest,including a November 14, 1984 issue of the News Transcript, placed in it was buried near the corner of Court Street and Monument Avenue.

January 19, 1986- Bruce Springsteen performs at a Stone Pony benefit concert to support the Freehold 3M worker's fight against the plant closing.

1991- Freehold Center Partnership formed after John Ballew (Ballew Jewlers) and Jeff Jones (Court Jester) hire a consultant to organize the business district.

September 24, 1996- President Clinton makes a campaign stop in Freehold and gives a 23 minute talk at the Battle of Monmouth Monument.

November 8, 1996- Bruce Springsteen holds a benefit concert at the St. Rose of Lima school, open only to residents of Freehold Boro. Proceeds of the concert were donated to the St. Rose of Lima Hispanic community center.

May 31, 1997- Freehold Fire Dept celebrates their 125th anniversary with a spectacular parade attended by dozens of visiting fire companies and hundreds of firefighters.

May 18, 2002- Vinyard Park is dedicated.

June 27, 2003- The original Columbia Triumphant statue, also known as Liberty Triumphant, is unveiled in its new home on East Main Street.

September 18, 2005- Dedication ceremony for the six new Habitat for Humanity homes on E Street, a two year volunteer project.
More To Come

Sources: The Asbury Park Press, The News Transcript, The Borough of  Freehold Historical Book, Freehold Township the first 300 Years (Jeannette Blair),
Kevin Coyne, Jayne Carr.