Marlboro Township, Monmouth County
10 Ogden St,
Marlboro NJ 07746
Year Listed : 2006
6/2012: The Liberty Hall/ Hardy Blacksmith Shop building was demolished earlier this month in preparation for residential development on the site.
Liberty Hall, also known as the Alfred Hardy & Son Blacksmith Shop, is a sturdy, three-bay wide, two-and-a-half-storey tall building of brick laid in common bond. Located in the hamlet of Morganville, it was probably built around 1880. The name Liberty Hall -- faint remnants of the words are painted on the building -- likely comes from a public meeting space that occupied the second floor. The smithy, which operated into the early 20th century, was one of the last blacksmith operations in the area. The building housed a machine shop from the 1930s until 1942 when a small defense contractor, Lavoie Laboratories, bought it. In 1966 Lavoie sold it to Entron Industries, a manufacturer of missile circuitry that occupied the building until the mid 1970s.
The Liberty Hall/Hardy Blacksmith Shop is a symbol of two great transformations that New Jersey underwent in comparatively short order. A blacksmith shop was an essential institution in the horse-drawn world, and the machine shop and defense contractors the building later housed remind us of the industrial base of the economy that has dwindled in the last few decades. Moreover the public meeting room suggests a time when a large proportion of a community’s population participated in civic affairs.
This building would lend itself readily to some form of adaptive use and the town’s Historic Preservation Commission has spoken up about the importance of the building. But the location has been included in a developer’s plan to build residences that would meet Marlboro Township’s affordable housing quota. Court challenges on both sides may provide an opening for the consideration of alternatives.
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