Ocean County Will Preserve Cedar Bridge TavernAgreement Had Allowed Owner to Live Out His Days
The late Rudolph Koenig, the historic Cedar Bridge Tavern’s reclusive and mysterious owner-occupant of more than 50 years, has left his estate in the hands of the county and preservationists whose efforts to preserve the site are under way, with a long-range plan still in development.
The Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation purchased the property in 2007, in an arrangement called a "life estate," meaning he would continue to live in and care for the historic building until his death. Since Koenig’s passing back in January, the county's goal is to restore the building and to get it added to both the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders will decide the tavern’s ultimate use.
The historic significance of the 1740s tavern, located on a wooded dirt road in Barnegat, is well documented as the site of the final land engagement of the American Revolution. When Koenig bought it in 1959, it sat in disrepair on a 200-acre parcel. He was 34 years old at the time; the price was $12,000, and the floors were crumbling. He fixed it up and made it livable, staying true to its original integrity.
In the ’70s he sold the lion’s share (195 acres) to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. His living there all those years, caring for the building and surrounding property, kept it in good overall condition and protected from vandals and arsonists.
So far, according to Tim Hart, administrator of the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission and Stafford Township historian, when interviewed earlier, “the county has hauled out six Dumpsters, one dump truck, (and donated) one truck to Habitat (for Humanity) and a car to the old and new shop.”
Bids will be opened Tuesday for a historic preservation architect/ specialist, who will conduct the process of nominating the site to the state and national registers and draft a preservation plan to explore the options. The selection will be made within the following week. —V.L.