Historic Cox House Now Part of County System

Feb 14, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill Barnegat Township’s historic Cox House is located at the intersection of West Bay Avenue and Route 9, and is now owned by Ocean County.

Barnegat Township’s historic Cox House is out of local hands and is now owned by Ocean County, according to an ordinance adopted by the township committee last September. The property transfer became effective Jan 1.

“The township finds it prudent and in the best interests of the taxpayers and the residents of the township to re-convey the property to the county so that the county can make the Cox House part of its parks and recreation inventory,” the ordinance states.  

Located at the intersection of West Bay Avenue and Route 9, the landmark has served as a meeting place for the Barnegat Historical Society and the Barnegat Garden Club among other local organizations, and has been used for special events such as a spring tea and a holiday meet and greet with Santa Claus.

Helping oversee the building was the Cox House Committee, which will be abolished, according to an ordinance introduced by the township committee last week.    

A study performed nearly 20 years ago by Margaret Westfield, an architect specializing in historic preservation, said the original portion of the house, including the rear kitchen area and second-floor bedrooms, was built around 1825. The house’s main feature, the large front rooms, date back to 1854, when they were constructed by Capt. William Cox.

“These historic homes can be difficult to maintain, and the county has much better resources than us,” said Township Administrator Martin Lisella, who estimated that in the past five years, the township has spent $50,000 for various rehabilitation projects, including $27,000 for roof repairs.

Ocean County Administrator Carl W. Block said the county has not yet made any specific plans as to the future use of the Cox House.

“But we will certainly do whatever we can to make sure it retains its historic character,” he said.

Block said that soon, engineers and architects will inspect the house to determine if additional repairs are needed.

“Eventually, we will reach out to the local groups who used the Cox House,” he said. “I don’t know what activities will take place in the future, but they would be of interest to the whole county, not just Barnegat.”

Deputy Freeholder Director John C. Bartlett Jr., who is parks and recreation chairman, said the house will be the second historic site under the department’s auspices. The other is the Cedar Bridge Tavern, also located in Barnegat.

He said the county Cultural and Heritage Commission will perform an inventory of antique items.

“The Cox House is going to need a lot of tender loving care,” he said. “I don’t doubt that a lot of work is going to have to be done before it reopens. But I know that we’re going to do the house justice.”

— Eric Englund






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