Ocean County Government
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1850 Ocean County Court House Then and Now

New Jersey’s twentieth county, Ocean, was set off from Monmouth County by an act of the New Jersey State Legislature on February 15, 1850. With Governor Daniel Haines’ signature on the legislation and the promulgation of the Ocean County Charter, representatives, known as freeholders, from each of the six townships that made up the state’s newest county were then authorized to conduct county business. Because Ocean County did not yet have its own building in which the Board of Chosen Freeholders could meet, other “public” buildings were used. So, on May 8, 1850, when, the twelve members of the freeholder board convened in Toms River, the designated county seat, they held their first meeting at the Thomas P. Barkalow House, later known as the Ocean House. Among their first official acts was a resolution to build a courthouse and a jail.

They requested interested residents to submit proposals to sell a parcel of their property in Toms River for a site on which to build a courthouse. Among several offers, was a cornfield owned by Joseph B. Coward. The freeholders selected Coward’s offer, which, in his delight, prompted him to donate 6,000 bricks for the courthouse. Not wishing to burden the residents of the state’s least populated county with an elaborate and costly custom design, the Board opted for a modest Greek revival-style that reflected mid-19th century interests in classical architecture. Saving their constituents even more money, the frugal freeholders then opted to borrow the Hudson County courthouse architectural plans. The result, still standing today, is an excellent example of the temple form with tall Doric columns supporting a massive pedimented portico, the most distinguishing feature of the Greek revival-style.

(Adapted from "Ocean County Government Complex / Toms River, New Jersey / A Brief History")
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