The Millstone Times August 2021

The Hightstown- East Windsor Historical Society By, Surabhi Ashok

The Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society aims to preserve the history of the Hightstown and East Windsor Townships in New Jersey for years to come, helping resi- dents gain knowledge of their town. The Society was founded by the Junior Friday Club in 1971 and is based at the Ely House and Freight Station on 164 North Main Street, Hightstown. The Ely House was purchased by the Society on June 21, 1974 and readapted as the So- ciety’s headquarters in a five year process of repainting, purchasing historical furniture, and essentially making the house ready for display. The Ely House dates back to approxi- mately 1850. Since then, three families occupied the house until the Ely family bought it in 1917 and continued living there for two more generations.

The Freight Station was a more recent addition. On October 3, 1990, an eighty feet sec- tion of the station was moved from the corner of Summit Street and Mercer Street to the back of the Ely House property. Named after the Sara Hutchinson West estate due to their generous donation of $276,000, the Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society was able to renovate the freight station, create the station foyer, build on restrooms, and undertake more revamping. Originally on Railroad Avenue, this freight station was constructed for the Camden & Amboy Railroad line in 1869. About 50 years later, it was transported to Summit Street by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This site contains an original railroad crossing sign and “sleeper” stones upon which the “John Bull” engine ran. “Sleeper” stones are the support for rails on railways. The House now holds a museum and a library as well. Arrangements for a tour through the museum can be made by contacting the Society. The library consists of 19th century newspapers, maps, and books, some of which can be purchased. The Freight Station, or the Sara Hutchinson West Educational Center, is used for children’s programs, school tours, and meetings for different organizations. For example, every year the Society produces a short film about Hightstown-East Windsor history and enlists kids from third grade to twelfth grade to act in it. Visit the Society’s website to be notified of any future auditions. Once finished, the short film is premiered at the Grace Norton Rogers Elementary School theater, posted on YouTube, and included in the EW Regional Schools’ curriculum. The most recent 2021 programWhat’s In A Name? reveals the story of how Hightstown got its name. Watch it with this link:! Another upcoming event to look forward to is the Walking Tour on September 23, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. Stroll through downtown Hightstown and learn about its corresponding history. Buy a ticket for $18. The Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society welcomes not only visitors but volunteers as well. They are in search of writers for their newsletter (which can be viewed, either online or printed, with a paid membership), docents who assist the public around the Ely House and provide them with their knowledge of the area, librarians, and people to work the special displays of the museum a couple times a year. Volunteering, donating, or becom- ing a member of the Society are all ways to build a tight-knit community that has one mission: to foster and connect a love for history to the town. Call at 609-371-9580 or email


44 The Millstone Times

August 2021

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