Basking Ridge in Bernards Township has retained its small-town charm for over 200 years. Most of the shops, restaurants, and services along tree-lined South Finley Avenue are located in historic 19th-century houses. In fact, the downtown area has so much history that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Bernards Township was originally formed by Royal Charter as Bernardston Township. The name Bernards Township was given to the area in 1760 by King George II to honor Sir Francis Bernard, Provincial Governor of New Jersey from 1758 to 1760. It was incorporated as Bernards Township in 1798. Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner, Lyons, and West Millington are located within Bernards Township, while Martinsville is split between Bernards and Bridgewater Townships.
Even though maps indicate that Basking Ridge is a small commercial district in the northeast section of Bernards, about 95% of the township is referred to as Basking Ridge and has a Basking Ridge postal address. The only major parts of Bernards that do not have Basking Ridge addresses are the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lyons and Liberty Corner, a small historic district in the southern portion of the township.
The Bernards Township municipal building on Collyer Lane is housed in a circa 1912 brick Tudor mansion detailed with French pocket doors, maple and mahogany paneling, and marble fireplaces. The house and its 28 acres were sold to the township by John Jacob Astor VI for $140,000 in 1968.
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