Historic Timeline


John Harrison (unknown – 1725) an agent of King James III of England acquires a 3,000- acre parcel of land from Chief Nowenoik of the Lenapes for 50 pounds. Parcel is known as “Harrison’s Neck” encompasses the southeastern portion of present day Bernards Township. Property is surveyed into farms 150-200 acres in size.


Nathaniel Rolph (1712 – unknown) acquired 83-acre lot in 1740. Property listed as “Lot #117, a tract of 83 acres on Harrison’s Purchase”

Farm House built (ca. 1740)


Moses Doty (1710 – 1775) a farmer and yeoman, purchased the property in 1747 for 180 pounds, moves to the property and expands his holdings (to over 300 acres) by lease and purchase.

English Barn Built (ca. 1760)


REV. SAMUEL KENNEDY (1720 – 1787) Purchases the Doty farm in 1762 for 1,200 pounds. Born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh. He and his family arrived in New Jersey before 1757. He was ordained in 1757 by the Presbytery in New Brunswick and was the fourth pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge from 1751 – 1787. In addition to being a physician and minister, Rev. Kennedy, in 1755, established a classical school, designed to prepare young men for college.

Property is listed for auction in 1767 and included 300 acres of which 70+ acres was plough land, over 200 apple trees, a small house and a good barn with stables


Listed as the owner of the Farmstead in the late 1770s. In 1778 he was assessed for 340-acres of improved land in Bernards Township along with livestock, a slave and riding chair. Military maps of 1779 and 1780 depict a house on the property.

He was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War after being commissioned as a Colonel of the 2nd Regiment, Sussex County in 1776 and then as a Colonel of the new 4th NJ Battalion of the Continental Army in 1776, he was stationed at Princeton in 1777 and passed a portion of winter at Valley Forge.

He resigned from the army in 1779 and then served as a New Jersey state legislator.

In 1789 had a prominent role in securing approval of the First Amendment of the US Constitution by the NJ Legislature. New Jersey is the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.


STELLE FAMILY (1794-1945) Members of the Stelle Family owned and occupied the farmstead from 1794 until 1945.

Oliver Stelle (1756 – 1832) and his brother Samuel, stepsons of Col. Ephraim Martin, purchase the property in 1794. Oliver, a farmer and investor, becomes sole owner and the property remains in the Stelle family for 150 years.

Wagon House built (ca. 1830)

Records show that Oliver acquired extensive property holdings in Bernards Township and vicinity, including farmland adjoining his homestead, several houses, a cider mill and a distillery.

Son Clarkson (1798—1850) inherits the property in 1832 and continues to run the farm adding a cow barn and an addition of hay barracks to the existing barn (likely the larger east section)

• In 1851, Clarkson’s heirs are instrumental in founding the Millington Baptist Church and provide half an acre for the Millington
Baptist Society meeting house.

• In 1852 the property is auctioned off and Isaac S. Runyon (1819 – 1892), Clarkson’s son-in-law, purchases the property and continues to farm.

Cow Barn built (ca. 1850)

• Isaac deeds part of the property to Thomas Stelle (Isaac’s wife’s brother) who continues to farm.

• Daughter, Rachel (Runyon) Codington (1864 – 1936) inherits the property in 1892. Her husband, William Coddington (1854—1935), a lawyer, served as director of several companies and served 25 years as an attorney for Union County as well as two terms in the state assembly.

• Codington’s children inherit the property in 1936.


GERALD PEARSON (1905 – 1987) and family purchase a 36 acre-lot of the Farmstead in 1945 and lived there for 15 years. A physicist whose work, in conjunction with two others, on silicon rectifiers at Bell Labs led to the invention of the solar cell and the first practical use of a silicon solar cell (power for handheld devices such as calculators and remote controls.

One of his crucial contributions was to build thin semiconductor filaments less than a hundredth of an inch thick which could be used instead of the metal leads in a point-contact transistor making for a transistor that was easier to build. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


GEORGE E. GEIER, SR (1913 – 2007)
purchased the property. While operating his Aqmarine Contracting Company in Brooklyn, New York, (he was owner and founder) he and his family continued with limited farming on the property – first hay and then later growing Christmas trees.

In addition to raising his five children with his wife, Ingrid, George served in the Naval Reserves and was a member of the Merchant Marines and Maritime Association.


BERNARDS TOWNSHIP purchases the property using Open Space Funding. When the property was purchased, outer buildings you see today were in disrepair.

• Somerset Historical Society lobbied against township plans to raze the property.

• A survey of the community showed that residents wanted a performing arts space in Bernards Township and Somerset County. 2000 –

2000 – 2002

• Preservation Plan of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead including architectural and archeological studies

• Preparation of National & State Historic Site Register nomination with the goal of preserving the site and building an arts organization.

2002 – 2004

• Emergency preservation of the English Barn, Cow Barn and Wagon House – in preparation for restoration work.



Founded as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 2004 whose mission is to:
Restore, preserve and operate the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead as Farmstead Arts Center (a not-for-profit center for fine, performing and practical arts).

The Friends of the KMS Farmstead lease the property from Bernards Township and, together with the board, members and volunteer work to continue restoration and preservation of the property as well as manage the arts center.

2004 – 2010

• Restoration of the Farm House, English Barn

• Reparation of the buildings and property for adaptive re-use as an arts center

2010 – today

• Continued restoration of Farm House, English Barn

• Restoration of Ice House


• Adaptive re-use of the Cow Barn as a Welcome Center

• Planning and restoration of the Wagon House (future)

• Ongoing restoration and preservation of buildings and property


Farmstead Arts Center opens!

• Uses the grounds and the buildings of the Kennedy Martin Stelle Farmstead

• Home to a center for fine, performing and practical arts offering art classes, workshops, art exhibits, as well as annual programming which includes concerts, theater performances, classes, art exhibitions, and special events.



Farmstead Arts Center, 450 King George Road, Basking Ridge, New Jersey 07920

admin@farmsteadarts.org | (908) 636 7576


Our office and gallery are open to the public on specified days.
The best way to reach us is by email at admin@farmsteadarts.org
Check out our art, guitar and photography classes!

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