Stafford Township Historical Society
Old Stone Store of Manahawkin
Local historians say the building that became the general store was built in the mid-1700s by Reuben Randolph.
The date 1838 carved into the southeast corner stone marks the year that the exterior was reinforced in stone by Benjamin Oliphant, who had bought the mill complex and a large tract of land there.
The next owner was Michael Sprague, who operated the store until 1888, using the enterprise's central location as a meeting place for the township committee during his membership. The store was also pressed into service as a recruiting station at the time of the Civil War.
In 1888 another Benjamin Oliphant took over. Customers came and went until about 1901, say local residents. The building later became a local residence.
The structure eventually declined into abandonment, then vandalism and then a fire in 1964. It was finally taken down and all the stones marked and moved to an Ocean County maintenance garage for eventual restoration.
Since many stones were lost, the remaining stones were laid on edge in order to have enough stones to complete the exterior. Originally the stones were laid flat. The 1838 cornerstone was placed in its original location. The reconstructed Old Stone Store, dedicated in 1979, stands as a reminder of Manahawkin's early commercial activity.
In April of 2000, the Historic Society purchased a heating/air conditioner that was installed into the Old Stone Store to keep the building at a constant temperature and help preserve the artifacts.
In July of 2002, due to the leaks of water and air, the structure was reroofed with cedar shingles. The Township of Stafford paid for the effort.
The Stafford Township Historical Society maintains the building as the town museum. We hope to find volunteers who will staff the museum so that it can be open year 'round.