Toms River Township's First Park

Toms River Township's First Park (HM2KKA)

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N 39° 57.075', W 74° 11.876'

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Huddy Park began as a tiny marsh island near the northern bank of the Toms River. Starting in the 1890s, the owner of what was then called Gowdy Island, began filling in the marsh using material excavated from the hill on Robbins Street. Over the following decade, the property adjacent to the river continued to be filled in without the federal government's permission. After being warned, the property owners halted the illegal landfill activity. The principal owner, Ralph B. Gowdy, planned to sell the "improved" island for private development, but when this proved unsuccessful, he sold it to the township in 1905 for $3,000. Shortly afterward, the island became the township's first park and was called Gowdy Park.Eventually, the park was renamed to honor Captain Joshua Huddy. Huddy was the commander of the Toms River Blockhouse when it was destroyed by the British on March 24, 1782. The township made modest improvements to the park in 1911 and acquired the adjacent land, which provided enough space to accommodate dockage for larger vessels. In 1915, interested residents, led by the old Reliance Band, "collected some $600 to improve and beautify" the park, including the construction of an octagon-shaped gazebo for band concerts. Years later, the gazebo was restored due to age and weathering. A fire

of undetermined origin destroyed it in 2010. During its more than one hundred years, the park grounds have been enhanced with trees, shrubs, flowerbeds, and paths. More recently, a brick service building was added, which provides facilities for food preparation and public restrooms. Over the past century, the park has become a popular site for an occasional wedding and community happenings, including festivals, wooden boat shows, picnics, craft fairs, art shows and commemorative historical events such as the reenactment of the Toms River Blockhouse Fight.In celebration of the township's 250th anniversary in 2017, Huddy Park was completely renovated with new bulkheads, refurbished benches, gazebos, and pathways, as well as fitted with decorative colonial soldier silhouettes and enhanced illumination. Interpretive historical signage was added in 2019.Luker BridgeKnown as Goose Creek before 1727, Toms River traces its name to Thomas Luker who, around 1702, began operating a "ferrie" or barge that crossed the river. The picturesque footbridge that connects the two sections of the park is named for this early English settler. One local folktale says that Tom Luker lived with his Unami Native American wife, Princess Ann, in a wigwam on the hill north of the park (near where the blockhouse would stand seventy-five years later and near the current

Town Hall). Gradually, the name of the river and the growing village on the river's north bank both became known as Tom's River. Eventually, the name morphed into Toms River as the apostrophe was lost to history.
Year Placed2019
Placed ByTownship of Toms River Historic Preservation Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 8th, 2019 at 8:04pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 568513 N 4422654
Decimal Degrees39.95125000, -74.19793333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 57.075', W 74° 11.876'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 57' 4.5000000000002" N, 74° 11' 52.56" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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