Search Site
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Updated June 1, 2004

New Jersey: Development of Revolutionary War Battlefield, Edison

Staff contact: Martha Catlin

Agencies: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, American Battlefield Protection Program, and Environmental Protection Agency

While commercial development such as bank branches and 24-hour pharmacies is a convenient aspect of modern life, the location of these services sometimes intrude on historic properties and landscapes.

In Edison, New Jersey, a site within a former American Revolutionary Battlefield known as Oak Tree Pond was slated for a 24-hour pharmacy and strip mall. In a stunning reversal of events, the local, county, and State governments joined with citizens to purchase and preserve the National Register-eligible site as a park. One acre that could not be bought by the local government, however, will become the site of a bank branch.

As the community works to restore the topography of the land next to the site of the future bank, the ACHP is working with the bank owner, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the community to ensure that the bank’s adverse effects on the preserved area are minimized.

In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, American forces fired upon British troops that were advancing along converging roads in Edison, New Jersey. The success of General George Washington’s tactics against the enemy’s overwhelming numbers enabled him to keep his forces intact—a critical factor in prevailing in future engagements with the British military.

Re-enactors recreate the Revolutionary War battle at Oak Tree Pond, Edison, New Jersey (photo courtesy of Jim Hebenstreit, Save the Oak Tree Pond Organization)

Two hundred and twenty-three years later, this historic site known as Oak Tree Pond was to become a strip mall with a 24-hour pharmacy and a bank branch. Although the site was bulldozed by the potential developers, it retained enough integrity to continue to qualify for the National Register of Historic Places as a component of the historic Battle of Short Hills.

The ACHP first became involved in the case in 2001 by responding to a Congressional inquiry on the project. It contacted the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its Section 106 responsibilities for permitting the strip mall development.

As public concern grew, evidenced by a petition with more than 4,000 signatures, Edison Township was able to purchase nearly all of the five-and-a-half-acre site through tax revenue-based “open space” funds matched by Middlesex County open space funds and State “Green Acres” grants.

A local group known as Save the Oak Tree Pond Committee raised money for the cause through garage sales and selling t-shirts and American flags. Weekend “Pond Watches” were held to prevent further encroachment on the former battlefield.

A bank, however, plans to build a branch on a remaining acre within the historic engagement area. Because the bank is required to obtain a permit from the Federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the OCC must undergo the Section 106 review process to ensure that the effects of new construction on the adjoining historic property are minimized.

The ACHP is consulting on the case with the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), OCC, the bank, and the community.

The bank has agreed to conceal the branch through vegetative screening that is compatible with the landscape planned for the park. It also will serve the park by providing parking and handicapped access. Other aspects of the proposal are still being discussed, including installing lighting that is more in keeping with the park’s lighting.

The technical assistance of ABPP has been critical to addressing the significant values of the Oak Tree Pond engagement area. It was ABPP’s independent analysis of historic events at the site that early led to the site being included within the boundaries of New Jersey’s proposed “Crossroads of the American Revolution” Heritage Area.

Currently, the consulting parties are drafting a Memorandum of Agreement on how adverse effects to the park will be resolved.

Staff contact: Martha Catlin


Our Attorneys

Recent Twitter Posts

  • New parks, trails will reconnect region to Camden's two rivers.
    2 days ago
  • Environmental Groups Seek NJ Supreme Court Review of Exxon Settlement.
    1 week ago
  • Pompton Lakes officials oppose Superfund for DuPont site.
    2 weeks ago
  • Sparta holds decision on Glen Lake Dam case.
    2 weeks ago

Recent Blog Posts

United States Supreme Court Tackles Key Clean Water Act Judicial Review Issue

National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, et al. 583 U.S. ____ (2018) Decided January 22, 2018 Since the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the definition of “the waters
Read More
United States Supreme Court Tackles Key Clean Water Act Judicial Review Issue

New Jersey Voters to Decide Important State Constitutional Amendment concerning the Environment

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, New Jersey voters will be asked to decide on a state constitutional amendment regarding the use of natural resource damages collected by the State in
Read More
New Jersey Voters to Decide Important State Constitutional Amendment  concerning the Environment

Appellate Division Case Demonstrates Importance of Carefully Negotiated Escrow Agreements

Real estate transactions involving commercial and residential properties frequently employ the use of escrow agreements to address potential environmental issues.  This practice is widespread in New Jersey and it permits
Read More
Appellate Division Case Demonstrates Importance of Carefully Negotiated Escrow Agreements

NJDEP Updates Soil Remediation Standards for 19 Contaminants

Effective September 18, 2017, new soil remediation standards govern the cleanup of contaminated sites in New Jersey.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) recently updated remedial standards for
Read More
NJDEP Updates Soil Remediation Standards for 19 Contaminants

In the media

  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form