Christie Administration Dedicates New Visitor Center at
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
State-of-the-art, environmentally friendly center reflects Administration’s commitment to sustainable parks that provide enhanced visitor experiences
(13/P63) TRENTON – Highlighting its commitment to sustainable parks that provide improved visitors’ experiences, the Christie Administration today dedicated a new visitor center at one of New Jersey’s premier historical sites, Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Manalapan.
“This new visitor center is an example of Governor Christie’s pledge to offer affordable and first class recreational opportunities at our state parks and historic sites to residents and visitors,” Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is an especially exciting milestone for Monmouth Battlefield, one of the historical treasures of the state park system. This new visitor center will provide guests with a much richer experience and fuller understanding of the Battle of Monmouth, a key conflict in our nation’s fight for independence.”
As part of the celebration, this Saturday and Sunday nearly 1,000 Revolutionary War re-enactors will take part in a battle and encampment re-enactment commemorating the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth, fought on June 28, 1778. One of the war’s largest battles, it was an important strategic and political victory for George Washington and his Continental Army.
The new visitor center opens to the public on Friday, June 14. The nearly 13,000-square-foot facility boasts interactive exhibits, artwork, timelines, maps and excavated artifacts from the day-long battle, as well as a souvenir and book shop. The old visitor center, closed since December 2011 and located across from the new center, has been re-purposed into a classroom, archaeological laboratory and restrooms.
The architect for the project was Princeton-based Ikon 5 Architects. The contractor was Patock Construction Co., Inc. of Tinton Falls.
The new center features a 100-seat movie theater for a new short film that chronicles the history of the Battle of Monmouth, which helped establish the effectiveness and viability of the Continental Army. The screening area also provides a striking overlook of the scenic Parsonage and Sutfin farms, where the Continental Army under Washington clashed with British forces under Lt. General Sir Henry Clinton.
“We recommend visitors to the park make this new center their first stop,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. “The exhibits showcased here are designed to deepen visitors’ appreciation for and understanding of this pivotal moment in American history and, for a few hours at least, let them feel what it was like to have lived and fought during the American Revolution.”
“Visitors of all ages will come away with an appreciation for our attention to detail in commemorating this historic battle,” said DEP historian Dr. Garry Stone. “The Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological Volunteer Organization played a pivotal role in making Monmouth Battlefield one of the most thoroughly researched battles of the war from an archaeological perspective. The more we learn about this engagement, the more we recognize it as a triumph for Washington and the Continental Army.”
“We are very excited to have a new, modern visitor center that tells the story of the whole Monmouth campaign and battle, as well as the history of the immediate area both before and after the Revolution,” said Dr. David Martin, Vice President of the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield. “Having a theater will also enhance the visitors' experience, since we will now be able to show an orientation film and also give talks there.”
The DEP invested $8.5 million in Corporate Business Tax (CBT) funding for the construction of and renovation of the visitor center under a 2006 voter-approved plan to improve parks and open space administered by the DEP.
The building is certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as following the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria. Some of the green features of the new facility include innovative wastewater technologies and water-efficient landscaping.
The Christie Administration in November 2011 launched a long-term strategy to keep parks vibrant, economically sustainable and affordable. The state’s model is designed to make the park experience more rewarding for the park system’s millions of visitors, while allowing the DEP to focus resources on stewardship and protection of the state’s important natural, historic and cultural assets.
The Battle of Monmouth took place when Washington’s Army intercepted an army of British, German and Loyalist soldiers fleeing from Philadelphia to New York to escape an impending blockade of the Delaware River by a French fleet.
The anniversary of the battle will be commemorated on Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, with re-enactors dressed in period uniforms encamped at the park, recreating the soldier’s life during the Revolution. Events during the weekend include drills, military music and camp tours. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The park opens to the public at 9:00 a.m. on both days, with battle re-enactments on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The camps close at 5:00 p.m. Saturday and at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.
For full schedule of events, visit: http://www.friendsofmonmouth.org/reenactment.html
In addition to being the site of one of the longest and largest battles of the American Revolution, Monmouth Battlefield State Park preserves a splendid rural 18th century landscape of hilly farmland and hedgerows that encompasses miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, picnic area, and a restored Revolutionary War farmhouse. Fox News recently ranked Monmouth Battlefield, a National Historic Landmark, as one of the world’s best preserved battlefields.
For more on Monmouth Battlefield State Park, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/monbat.html
For more on the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield, visit: http://www.friendsofmonmouth.org/