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The NJ Historic Preservation Office fields approximately 25 nominations to the National Register of Historic Places every year. We highlight recent examples for you in this monthly feature.

The Mount Tabor Historic District

Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, NJ

Mount Tabor Main Entrance into Trinity Park

There is a picturesque residential neighborhood tucked away in Parsippany-Troy Hills Township in northern New Jersey that owes its very existence to a 19th-century, summer Methodist Camp Meeting. Yes, this suburban/urban region was once considered "out in the country".

Stepping into the community of Mount Tabor feels like stepping back in time. The historic district retains its 19th-century feeling from its founding in 1869. The original 130-acre, wooded tract perched on a steep hillside contains dense houses and narrow, winding streets with stone retaining walls and gutters under a heavy tree canopy. An entrance gate with the community's name arching over the path welcomes visitors. There are a total of 229 buildings in the district; 211 are contributing. Some of these were originally built for religious purposes; the rest are mostly single-family residences. In addition, there are several contributing sites including parks, a playground and a golf course. Most of the streets are named for early pastors and religious leaders of the Methodist faith.

25-29 East Trinity Place

The architecture of Mount Tabor is representative of American styles being built in the last quarter of the 19th-century and first few decades of the 20th-century.

The early cottages were typically two-story, rectangular frame construction with board and batten siding and a steep gable roof. The two-story, open porches led right up to the street, promoting the camp meeting spirit of communal living and worshipping together. The dominant architectural influences were the Stick Style and Gothic Revival.

20 Fletcher Place

Trinity Park is the heart of Mount Tabor. It sits under a canopy of oak trees, ascending with the terrain of the hill, providing a natural amphitheater with the Tabernacle, Library and Bethel pavilions anchoring the oblong park. Trinity Park is where the original religious services were held. Once covered by stately chestnut trees, the blight of 1913-17 dramatically altered Mount Tabor when approximately 2,500 trees died.

Moving out from Trinity Park, the 1880s' architecture evolved with homes becoming bigger with bay windows and gambrel roofs. Queen Anne style dominated, but sits next to Craftsman-influenced houses and American Foursquares. By the end of the 19th-century, the religious fervor upon which Mount Tabor had been established was waning, and it was evolving into a recreational, summer community. Religious buildings were converted for secular public use, and facilities for outdoor play and exercise created.

By the late 1920s, the town was largely built out. In 1920, the transition to a year-round community was beginning, with 13 families living year-round in Mount Tabor. This affected the architecture significantly, as the need for living space increased. Porches were enclosed, particularly on the second stories. Many additions were built, and houses were re-sheathed in wood shingles. By 1930, there were 28 families living in the community year-round. In 1969, over 320 families were living in Mount Tabor.

The Library

The Camp Meeting Association (CMA) created in 1872, still owns seven buildings in Mount Tabor - The Tabernacle, original Tabernacle, Bethel, Library, Old Firehouse, a small stone building and a small frame shed. The CMA continues to operate as a homeowner's association, governed by 12 elected homeowners.

The Mount Tabor Historical Society is the primary keeper of Mount Tabor records outside of the CMA. Housed in the J. Smith Richardson House in Trinity Park, they offer public programs, tours and exhibits at their headquarters.

The religious, summer camp meeting concept was not new to New Jersey. At the same time Mount Tabor was being established, other camp meetings were being founded across the state.

  • South Seaville, Cape May County, was established in 1863
  • Ocean Grove, Monmouth County, was established the same year as Mount Tabor in 1869
  • Malaga Camp Meeting, Gloucester County was also established in 1869
  • Pitman Grove, Gloucester County was founded in 1871
  • An Ocean City camp meeting, Cape May County, was established in 1879

Ocean Grove and Pitman Grove are both listed as historic districts on the State and National Registers.

Next time you drive near Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, pull off the highway and take a look at secluded Mount Tabor!

Additional Sources: "Mount Tabor Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form;" Margaret Newman; 2014.

Left to Right: 47 North Place; Water Reservoir; Trinity Park
Searing Place


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Forms and Publications:

  1. Preliminary Application Package:

    New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places vs. Local Designation Fact Sheet (PDF Format)NR Bulletin #15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation (NPS Website)NR Bulletin #16A: Guidelines for Completing National Register Forms (NPS Website)

  2. New Jersey Register of Historic Places Act (N.J.S.A. 13:1B-15.128 et seq.) (HTML)


Useful Links :

  1. National Park Service Links to the Past National Register of Historic Places Program (NPS Website)National Historic Landmarks Program (NPS Website)National Register Bulletins (NPS Website)
  2. Other Links

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Last Updated: April 4, 2019