About twenty minutes east of home leads us to the calm, tranquil region of western Monmouth County, New Jersey. The village of Allentown – which will be covered by us in the near future, boasts many shops, restaurants, an old mill, and plenty of other opportunities for shoppers and weekend photographers alike. A little deeper into the Cream Ridge and Upper Freehold Township area we have today’s destination, with Revolutionary Era historical framework; now preserved into an open air museum, showcasing local artists while also preserving the artifacts and display of the late- 18th century. While historic Walnford is so beautifully tucked away in the quiet forest along Crosswicks Creek; much as anywhere else in New Jersey, it is still seemingly in the middle of everything.
We decided to visit and profile Walnford for this blog entry out of the inspiration of constantly driving by signs for the site while exploring Allentown. With full discretion and humility as someone who studies local regional history as a hobby, I had no idea about Walnford. I have never seen it advertised on our local travel guide pages on social media, and neither of us have seen it referenced in any of our literature regarding Atlantic regional historical sites. We owed it to both the physical site and its historical impact to take a visit and experience for ourselves.
The current site of Walnford, NJ is an open air museum, with several buildings showcasing old artifacts, such as early Eighteenth Century transportation hardware and horse rearing equipment. The two main event buildings – the Waln estate and grist mill, are preserved and protected for the public. From a historical perspective, Richard Waln purchased several mills on the land and constructed both the estate and grist mill in 1773. The open air displays on site tell a story of two centuries from an industrial stronghold to a Twentieth Century country retreat for the Waln family. The Merchant trading industry of Colonial America relied heavily on the Crosswicks Creek, flowing as a natural corridor during local trade routes. The Walnford site is situated right along the Creek, and the trading services sourced out of the grist mill allowed the Walnford site to become a thriving industrial complex. In later years, Walnford transformed into a quiet, serene family retreat, upholding generations of contributions of local industrial history, as perpetuated by Richard Waln.
In 1979, the Walnford site was donated to Monmouth County, NJ and has since become a public attraction and display site for local art. The open air museum displayed in structures along the site are open to the public, as is the historic mansion structure, and grist mill, still standing tall, with centuries of legacy supporting it. Occasionally, the park staff at Walnford will facilitate a grist mill demonstration, where visitors can receive an in-person account on the operation of the grist mill as it was, many years ago.
For more information about the Walnford site, please consider visiting
Monmouth County Park System Parks Historic Walnford