Kingston Historical Society

Welcome to The Kingston Historical Society web site. The Kingston Historical Society (KHS) was formed in 1997 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization to preserve, enhance and promote the history of the village of Kingston. KHS has its headquarters in the Locktender's House on the Delaware and Raritan Canal, Kingston, New Jersey. KHS is a 501(c)(3) organization.


Harvest Time! The History of Farming in the Millstone Valley … In their Words

Tuesday, June 6th at 7:30 pm

Kingston Firehouse, Heathcote Brook Road (just off Route 27) in Kingston, NJ.

Judy Peters, President of the Van Harlingen Historical Society of Montgomery, will present a fascinating program on the history of farming in Montgomery Township and the surrounding areas from the early 1700s until current times. The presentation will include historic photographs from the VHHS Image Collection and objects from the Montgomery Farm Museum. The farms and farmers, animals and crops, happy times and heartaches will be described in the actual words of past farmers, as found in travel and farm diaries, inventories and wills, oral histories and other autobiographical manuscripts from the Van Harlingen Historical Society archives.

As part of Judy’s program, there will be an opportunity to ask questions and share local farming experiences.

Judy is a long-time member of VHHS and has served as Treasurer for 6 years, then President for the last 4 years. She lives in the historic district of Bridgepoint, in “Opie’s Mill”, which is probably the oldest surviving mill in the Millstone Valley. She has a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, and taught and supervised research there for 10 years based on her expertise in the use of Geographic Information Systems to document historic resources and analyze features for conservation. In her “other life”, Judy is a business consultant in the chemical and textile industry.

The program will take place 7:30 pm Tuesday 6 June 2017 at the Kingston Firehouse, Heathcote Brook Road (just off Route 27) in Kingston, NJ
The program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.


Kingston’s Schools focus for Kingston Historical Society Annual Meeting

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Kingston Historical Society held its Annual Meeting at 7:30 pm Tuesday November 1st, 2016 in the multi-purpose room of the recently renovated Laurel Avenue School, on the corner of Laurel Avenue and Union Street in Kingston. After a very brief business meeting, there was an illustrated presentation on the “Schools of Kingston.” The program organized by George Luck, Jr. was led by Anne Zeman. The program included reminiscences of six former students of one or both of the school buildings which remain in Kingston.

It may be that Kingston’s oldest schools date from the 1700s, but the surviving buildings in Kingston are the Kingston Free School built in 1871 on Academy Street at Route 27 and the Laurel Avenue School built about 1923, on the corner of Laurel Avenue and Union Street. Both schools have had additions since being built, but changing times led to both schools being “decommissioned” about 1988 and 1998. Fortunately, they still exist. The Laurel Avenue School was recently renovated by Princeton International Properties for the Tuchman Foundation, and is now being used as the YingHua International School.

The video of the meeting is available for download:

EXHIBITS in the Kingston Locktender's House

The House is open April through November, on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays; from April thorough October the House will be open from 10 am to 6 pm. In November the House will be open from 10 am to 4 pm. The subjects currently on display are:

  • Lake Carnegie and its Dam – its history and the current repairs.
  • Princeton Nurseries.
  • Educating Kingston's Children: Kingston Schools.

New exhibits, one on Farming in Kingston (in connection with KHS’s Spring Talk on Farming in the Millstone Valley) and one celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, will be replacing the current exhibits in May.

Permanently on exhibit are the HABS (Historic American Building Survey) drawings of the Kingston lock and canal house and other information about the D&R Canal and the adjacent area.

Also on continuing exhibit is the Moor-Potts Library Desk.
The desk was made in Kingston by a local cabinetmaker, John F. Moor, for his own use. The desk was acquired by the father of the late Dorothea “Jimmie” Potts at an estate auction after Moors death in 1913. It was subsequently passed on to Dorothea. KHS acquired it at the estate sale after her death.

Past Events And Exhibits

A showing of D&R CANAL Videos with additional commentary Tuesday, June 7th, 2016
was featured at the Kingston Historical Society meeting at the Kingston Firehouse, June 7th, 2016

After some background on the D&R Canal and its past and present importance to Kingston, KHS president Robert von Zumbusch led us through two videos: one, “D&R,” produced and directed by Cliff canal one Crawford in 1976 -- before the Canal Park was established; the video included historical footage and interviews with canal two‘canalers.’ The other, "The Canals of New Jersey,” produced by the Canal Society of New Jersey, provided a comparison with New Jersey’s other navigational canal, the unique Morris Canal, which was very different from the D&R.

As an architect at the firm CUH2A, Robert had principal responsibility for the D&R Canal Historic and Recreational Development Plan, which became one of the five Master Plan documents of the D&R Canal Commission; he is currently a member of the D&RCC Master Plan Advisory Committee.

Walking Tour of Kingston's Churches ~ May 7, 2016
George Luck led a walking tour of Kingston’s two churches, assisted by their members.
The tour started in the cemetery driveway opposite the Methodist Church. Kingston Methodist Church where he pointed out the graves of some of those who have played significant roles in the life of the Kingston Presbyterian Church Church and community and the site of Kingston’s first church. The walk proceeded up Main Street to the Presbyterian Church, where a brief history was given in the sanctuary. Participants walked back to the Methodist Church for a brief history of that church in its sanctuary, after which refreshments were served in the church hall.

Walking Tour Photo Gallery

KHS Holiday Open House ~ DECEMBER 6, 2016

KHS members, fellow Kingston resident, and many others attended our annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting December 4th, 2016 at the Locktender’s House on the D&R Canal. They enjoyed holiday refreshments, decorations by the Kingston Garden Club, the annual tree lighting, and music by the Kingston Womens Chorus.

KINGSTON: CROSSROADS OF THE CROSSROADS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION ~ NOVEMBER 10, 2015 The program was featured at the Kingston Historical Society Annual Meeting on November 10th, 2015 at the Kingston Firehouse. The program focused on the Revolutionary War and Kingston. After some background on the Crossroads National heritage Area, KHS vice president George Luck gave a presentation on Kingston’s history during the Revolutionary War.

The presentation was illustrated by a video, from Crossroads of the American Revolution Association, and images from KHS and other archives. During that time General George Washington visited the Kingston multiple times, from 1776-1783. George (Washington - not Luck!) in 1776 rode down main street fleeing the British, in 1777 he paused after the Battle of Princeton for his “Conference on Horseback”; in 1778 he stopped for a day in Kingston on his way to the Battle of Monmouth and in 1783 stayed at Rockingham while the Continental Congress met in Princeton waiting to hear that the peace treaty with the British was signed.

CARNEGIE LAKE and its DAM ~ JUNE 2, 2015

Carnegie Lake Dam
LAKE CARNEGIE DAM at KINGSTON, Courtesy of Princeton University

Princeton University Facilities engineer Robert Ortego gave an excellent illustrated presentation of the planned repairs to the dam, and KHS President Robert von Zumbusch offered a fascinating history of the Lake and its dam.

Located in Kingston approximately 2 miles downstream of the confluence of the Stony Brook and Millstone River, the Carnegie Lake Dam, constructed in 1907, helped create the body of water still enjoyed by Princeton University’s crew as well as many others. Maintenance has been performed as needed on the Dam over the last century, and the time has come again to address needed repairs. Princeton University’s Facilities engineers, along with consultants, have developed plans for structural repairs to a portion of the dam, which will begin in June 2015. The work will not affect the level of the lake, nor is it expected to impact traffic or pedestrian routes.

To learn more about the dam, the project, and the status of repairs, please visit Lake Carnegie Dam Repair and the current exhibit at the Kingston Locktender’s House.

Event details »

Railroads and Kingston; an illustrated presentation by John Kilbride, was given at the KHS Annual Meeting on October 14, 2014. The talk included the Camden & Amboy and Pennsylvania Railroads. There was particular emphasis on the Rocky Hill Railroad and Transportation Company and Kingston Branch, which connected Rocky Hill to Kingston and to the main line at Monmouth Junction and beyond. Railroads and Kingston was also the subject of an exhibit in the Fall, which continued until May 2015.

An Evening with Peter V. Shann portrayed by George Luck, Jr. was held on June 7, 2014.
Peter Shann was born and grew up in Kingston; he was a Civil War soldier, who later became a Kingston Presbyterian Church Elder and a Kingston entrepreneur. The Kingston Presbyterian Board of Elders and KHS co-sponsored the event.

The Millstone Valley Scenic Byway: a 15 minute film and a talk by author Linda Barth. The program was held 16 June 2014. Linda has written several books including The Delaware & Raritan Canal, The Delaware & Raritan Canal at Work and the children’s book Bridgetender’s Boy; she is currently writing a book on the Millstone Valley. Linda is also co-president of D&R Canal Watch.

New Jersey History Fair: Celebrating the 350th Anniversary of New Jersey May 10, 2014, at Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville, NJ. Kingston Historical Society joined with Kingston Greenways Association and Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands to provide coordinated exhibits on Kingston and its contributions to the history of New Jersey and the themes for 350th Anniversary: Innovation – Diversity – Liberty.

KHS Annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting:
Sunday December 1, 2013, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. At the Kingston Locktender’s House

Princeton Nurseries 100th Anniversary Celebration
in the Preserve
Saturday, September 7, 2013

Princeton Nurseries - 1913 - 2013
An illustrated talk by William Flemer, IV was given October 9, 2013 at the Kingston Firehouse.

A Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration was held at the Kingston Locktender’s House June 22, 2013 in concert with the Lincoln Highway Association Centennial Tour; lunch was provided to tour participants by Eno Terra restaurant and a number of local vehicles of the era were on display.

The Lincoln Highway - 1913 - 2013, an exhibit of KHS photographs and information about the Lincoln Highway was on display in the Kingston Locktender's House from April to September 2013.