Was Allaire Village Ever “Deserted?” By Kristianna Chanda

There are many sources that suggest that Allaire Village was once abandoned or deserted. In 1967, Alden T. Cottrell published a book titled The Deserted Village at Allaire in which he argues that the village was abandoned twice: once after James Allaire’s son, Hal passed away in 1901 and again after World War II. Several years after World War II, the Monmouth County Planning Board developed a plan to help restore the “Deserted” Village of Allaire. In a book titled “Historic Allaire Village: The Short History of the Life and Times of the Howell Works Co (1999),the Board of Trustees for Allaire village mentions a restoration project titled “The Deserted Village At Allaire, Inc” where the planning committee reaches out for private funding to restore the village. Both sources use the word deserted at one point or another when describing the history of Allaire Village. The media perpetuates this notion through entertainment websites, such as the “Weird NJ” website, claiming its former abandoned or deserted status.

 

It is not only inaccurate to categorize Allaire Village as once deserted, but it also neglects those who lived and worked on the property. Granted, deserted can hold many different meanings. Deserted can mean abandoned, remote, and without activity. However, evidence suggests otherwise. The term “deserted” first was used to describe the village as early as the late 1800’s (Howell Works Restoration 1979), during Hal Allaire’s lifetime. Indeed the Works themselves were no longer in operation and certain buildings began to fall into disrepair, but Hal and others still lived in the village. In 1880 the old carpenter shop opened as De Lisle’s Restaurant which remained in operation as a French restaurant and inn until the 1920’s and after was used as a Boy Scouts HeadQuarters. Further first and second-hand accounts recall their families living in the village in the early 20th century. 

 

There is also evidence that, in 1928, Arthur Brisbane invited the Boy Scouts to use the grounds. From 1928 to 1947 the Boy Scouts helped maintain the village grounds and helped recruit organizations to fund reservation projects. There are also photographs that show buildings being used as private residences after Arthur Brisbane’s death.  After giving the land to the State of New Jersey, retainers on the property were given life rights although during the writing of the 1979 Restoration plan only one or two residents remained. But as you can see even during times the Village was deserted there was still a strong community!

 

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