History of Bernardsville, NJ
Bernardsville was originally a section of Bernards Township known as Vealtown. In 1840, Vealtown became Bernardsville, named after Sir Francis Bernard, Colonial governor of New Jersey from 1758 to 1760. Located in the northernmost part of Somerset County, just 12 miles (19 km) south of Morristown, the borough includes some of the last vestiges of the Great Eastern Forest.
During the Revolutionary War, General Charles Lee rested his troops in Vealtown around the night of December 12 to 13, 1776. General Lee and some of his guard spent the night about 3 miles (5 km) southeast at White’s Inn on the southeast side of Basking Ridge, near the manor house of Continental Army general William Alexander, Lord Stirling. On the morning of December 13, General Lee was captured by the British and removed to New York.
The Gladstone Branch railroad line was built through Bernardsville in 1872 and played an important role in the borough’s development. Bernardsville did not become an independent municipality until 1924, when it split from Bernards Township.
The New Jersey State Review Board for Historic Sites recommended the creation of the Olcott Avenue historic district on February 10, 2009. While the Olcott Avenue School is but one historic structure within Bernardsville’s first historic district area, the area’s appeal and historic significance is part of the story of the rise of the middle class in Bernardsville and how this particular location impacted the entire region, from the downtown, Little Italy, and the Mountain Colony areas.