Major Projects & Milestones

Since its founding in 1988, the South River Historical & Preservation Society is proud to have completed multiple major projects and achieved many significant milestones. Below is a list of past and ongoing accomplishments.

2021: Digital Exhibits

The first digital exhibits were created in the fall of 2021, one for each of the three previous South River anniversary celebrations, 1920, 1970, and 1995.

2021: New Cataloging System

An online cataloging system was selected to replace the standalone system previously used. Existing records were ported to the new system, new standard vocabularies were put in place, and records were reviewed and revised to take advantage of the features of the new system.

2020: Historical videos

A YouTube channel was established to host a series of society-created videos on aspects of South River history.

2019 - 2022: Celebration of South River's 300th anniversary

Planning for the 300th anniversary celebration was begun in 2019. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of most events scheduled for the anniversary year (2020), the anniversary logo was unveiled in January 2020 and the anniversary banner in June 2020. The time capsule buried in 1970 was finally opened in September 2021. The artifacts recovered from the time capsule were displayed at the South River Public Library and an online exhibit was created.

2018 - 2019: 1918 influenza epidemic project

The society worked with the Middlesex County Office of Arts and History researching the 1918 influenza epidemic in South River and planning for a ground penetrating radar survey of a section of Washington Monumental Cemetery thought to have a common grave from the epidemic.

2018: Ground Penetrating Radar survey of Old School Baptist Church graveyard

A GPR survey of the Old School Baptist Church graveyard, located behind the museum, was commissioned in an attempt to determine the existence and location of unmarked graves.

2016: Conservation and restoration of the Klauser's hotel painting

Edward Lange's 1882 painting of Klauser's hotel, donated by Woodis Booraem, benefited from the work of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. The project was funded by a private donation.

2016: 10,000 artifacts

The museum catalog reached the milestone of including information on 10,000 individually cataloged items.

2015: Cleaning of the Frazee urn and the World War I doughboy monument

Both monuments were professionally cleaned, repaired, and treated.

2014 - 2015: Publication of "South River," for Images of America Series

The book includes more than 240 images from the museum's Van Dyke Reid Collection of photographs taken in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

2012 - 2013: Establishment of the Richard K. Meyers South River History High School Essay Contest

Scholarships are awarded annually to graduating high school seniors who live in South River and are continuing their educations. The original awards were made possible through contributions from Judith Zinis, wife of Richard Meyers, and Bruce and Lee Meyers, his brothers. The inaugural scholarships were awarded in June 2013 to Bridget LaPlante, from South River High School, and Rebecca Walsh, from Bishop George Ahr High School.

2010 - 2012: Photographic Survey of Washington Monumental Cemetery

A continuation of the project carried out between 1992 and 2005, the new survey began with a review and update of the existing database. It was expanded to include a photograph of each stone in the six surveyed sections of the cemetery. The photographs have been systematically linked from the existing database so that visitors to the museum can read the information and click on a link to view the related photo.

2008: Photographic Survey of the Old School Baptist Church Graveyard

Each remaining stone in the graveyard located behind the South River Museum was photographed and transcriptions were made of any text still legible on the stones. Comparisons were made to information gathered in earlier surveys in order to fill gaps in names, dates, and other information. Extensive searching was then done to complete Bible verses and hymns quoted on the stones and locate historical information about the graveyard. The results were compiled into a binder containing information about the graveyard along with detailed information about each of the stones.

2006 - (ongoing): Conservation of the Old School Baptist Church Graveyard

Private donations have thus far provided only partial funding for this ongoing project to rescue the Old School Baptist Church Cemetery from the effects of time. The Borough of South River provided assistance early on with landscaping work and replacement of the existing fence. Conservation work on 11 stones was completed in fall 2007. Repairs to several additional stones were completed in 2015. Additional funding is needed before work can resume.

2021: Digital Exhibits

The first digital exhibits were created in the fall of 2021, one for each of the three previous South River anniversary celebrations, 1920, 1970, and 1995.

2003 - 2004: Restoration of the War Memorials

Both the World War I "doughboy" Memorial and the World War II, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam Conflict Memorial located in front of the Museum were restored with funds collected from private donations.

2001 - (ongoing): Cataloging, digitizing, and organizing the collections at the South River Museum

With partial funding from a series of grants from the New Jersey Historical Commission and the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission the efforts to catalog the Museum collections continue. The grants have provided the funds to hire a part-time cataloger as well as for much-needed supplies such as preservation boxes and acid-free folders. Although much of the work is focused on items already in the collections, new material is also being cataloged, digitized, and preserved as it is received.

2000 - 2001: Development of a "Historical Hunt" for the South River Museum

Designed as an activity for Museum visitors, the "hunt" is a series of trivia questions based on items in and around the museum. Bookmarks, magnets, and a video about the Museum were also produced. The project was funded with a grant from the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

2000 - 2001: Creation of a virtual Historical Tour
of South River

Comparing photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s with contemporary photos, the project was undertaken by the South River High School Community Problem Solvers in conjunction with the South River Historical & Preservation Society and the South River schools. The project was funded with a grant from Verizon.

1997 - 2000: Conservation of R. Van Dyke Reid's 1851 map of South River

The earliest known map to depict only South River, the conservation project was funded with money from a private donation.

1995 - 1996: Publication of a "Commemorative Book in Celebration of South River's 275th Anniversary

Created to mark the occasion of the 275th anniversary, the 92-page book details the activities of the year, as well as the history of the borough, the schools, and the churches, with historical photos and other features.

1994 - 1999: Restoration of the Old School Baptist Church and the Frazee Urn and opening of the Museum

Upon the initiative of the South River Historical & Preservation Society, the South River Borough Council applied for and received a grant for restoration of the building. The grant, approved in June 1995, was funded by the Historic Preservation Bond Program and administered by the New Jersey Historic Trust. The restoration was completed, and the Museum opened in 1999.

1994 - 1995: Organization of the parade and celebration for the 275th anniversary of South River

A year-long series of events celebrating the history of the borough, the highlight of the year was the parade on October 22, 1995, one of the largest and most spectacular in borough history.

1992 - 2005: Survey of
Washington Monumental Cemetery

Begun as a society project in the early 1990s, the intent was to inventory and document the gravestones in the older sections of the cemetery in order to preserve the information contained there. The project was finally completed in 2005 with the help of two Girl Scouts and a Boy Scout. The Girl Scouts each earned their Gold Award and the Boy Scout his Eagle Scout Award for their participation in the project.

1991 - 1992: Placement of the Old School Baptist Church and Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places

Following the placement of the building on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, application was made to have it added to the National Register. The placement became official on January 7, 1992.

1990 - 1991: Placement of the Old School Baptist Church &Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places

A historic preservation consultant was hired to research and prepare the paperwork necessary to have the property recognized for placement on the Register. The placement became official on November 19, 1991.

1988 - 1989: Purchase of the Willett Sisters Portraits

The society's first major project, funded with money from private donations.
Learn more about the Willett Sisters!