In 1885, what is today the National Guard Training Center was leased by the State of New Jersey from the Sea Girt Land Improvement Company. The property was chosen due to its location in central New Jersey and proximity to the railroad, an important consideration during the nineteenth century. The site hosted training encampments of National Guard Soldiers and served as a venue for long range target shooting. The state purchased the land in 1887 and added a small additional plot in the early twentieth century.
Postcard of marksmanship competition at the National Guard Training Center, 1908.
In the early twentieth century, the National Guard Training Center hosted national rifle matches. By tradition, the installation was renamed for the sitting Governor of New Jersey with each change in administration. For example, Soldiers came to Camp Voorhees in 1898 to muster into federal service in the Spanish American War. In 1917, Soldiers mobilized for World War I at Camp Edge.
The New Jersey National Guard first encamped here in the summer of 1885. From its earliest days, this installation supported training exercises, marksmanship competitions, and the mobilization of Soldiers for World War I and World War II. From 1891 to 1941, NGTC served as the summer residence and workplace of the Governors of New Jersey. Visitors to post have included United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Barack Obama, as well as aviators Amelia Earhart and Will Rogers.
Woodrow Wilson at Sea Girt, 1912.
At the National Guard Training Center, Woodrow Wilson received the telegram informing him he had secured the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 1912.
In 1941, with war waging across Europe, the New Jersey National Guard was called to federal active duty and sent to train in North Carolina. The National Guard Training Center was leased to the U.S. Army Signal Corps, who occupied the installation until 1945.
Following World War II, the National Guard Training Center evolved to provide education, training, and operations support for New Jersey’s military and law enforcement professionals.
Today, the 168 acre installation is home to the New Jersey National Guard’s 254th Regional Training Institute, Medical Command, Recruiting and Retention Command, 154th Water Purification Company, 63rd Army Band, Youth Challenge Academy, and the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey. The New Jersey State Police, Department of Corrections, Department of Criminal Justice, and the Juvenile Justice Commission conduct their respective training academies, weapons qualifications, and continuing education courses on the post year round.
For more information about the rich history of the National Guard Training Center, please visit the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey.
Historic images courtesy of the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey.