The Heritage Park of Stafford Township stands as a reminder of yesteryear for the surrounding community. The park is on West Bay Ave, just west of Rt. 9 and across from the A Paul King Park which is on Manahawkin Lake. 1 "Heritage Park."
Backstory and Context
Also in the park is the Manahawkin Train Station which has been moved from its original location at Letts and Stafford Ave. about where Larry's Barber shop now stands. The insides have been refinished and you can still see the many years of use scuffed into the floor. It will hopefully be soon turned into a museum for Stafford.
2 "Heritage Park."
The Manahawkin Train Station was moved in 1990 from its original location at Letts and Stafford Ave., about where Larry's Barber shop now stands, to it's present location in Heritage Park. The Historical Society raised funds for the restoration of the historic building. The insides have been refinished and you can still see the many years of use scuffed into the floor.
In 1883 and 1884, the Pennsylvania Railroad built the first railroad bridge from Manahawkin to Ship Bottom and the down to Beach Haven and north to Barnegat City. This line connected with the Tuckerton Railroad at Manahawkin where the Manahawkin Station was later constructed.
The Pennsylvania and Tuckerton Railroads ceased operations around 1935 due to increased availability of automobiles and the loss of the trestle bridge to Long Beach Island during a storm.
The station is currently being used as an Information Center (funded by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce ) and museum for Stafford.
Open on Saturdays, 10am to 2pm during the summer months.
3 "Manahawkin Railroad Station."
Local historians say the building that became the general store was built in the mid-1700s by Reuben Randolph.
The date 1838 carved into the southeast corner stone marks the year that the exterior was reinforced in stone by Benjamin Oliphant, who had bought the mill complex and a large tract of land there.
The next owner was Michael Sprague, who operated the store until 1888, using the enterprise's central location as a meeting place for the township committee during his membership. The store was also pressed into service as a recruiting station at the time of the Civil War.
In 1888 another Benjamin Oliphant took over. Customers came and went until about 1901, say local residents. The building later became a local residence.
The structure eventually declined into abandonment, then vandalism and then a fire in 1964. It was finally taken down and all the stones marked and moved to an Ocean County maintenance garage for eventual restoration.
Since many stones were lost, the remaining stones were laid on edge in order to have enough stones to complete the exterior. Originally the stones were laid flat. The 1838 cornerstone was placed in its original location. The reconstructed Old Stone Store, dedicated in 1979, stands as a reminder of Manahawkin's early commercial activity.
In April of 2000, the Historic Society purchased a heating/air conditioner that was installed into the Old Stone Store to keep the building at a constant temperature and help preserve the artifacts.
In July of 2002, due to the leaks of water and air, the structure was reroofed with cedar shingles. The Township of Stafford paid for the effort.
The Stafford Township Historical Society maintains the building as the town museum. We hope to find volunteers who will staff the museum so that it can be open year 'round.
4 "Old Stone Store of Manahawkin."