Allaire Village

Allaire Village

Allaire Village is a living history museum located within New Jersey's Allaire State Park in Wall Township, New Jersey. Originally established as a site to mine bog iron by a company owned by James Peter Allaire. Allaire Village and its existing buildings are now operated by a non-profit organization - Allaire Village, Inc. Historic interpreters work using period tools and equipment in the blacksmith, tinsmith, and carpentry shops, while the old bakery sells cookies, and general store serves as a museum store. The church building is frequently used for weddings.

History

Allaire Village's is the history of a particular geological formation and the man who was drawn to it because of his business needs. In the course of his ownership, James Peter Allaire created a thriving community centered on the bog iron industry, which was just one of his business concerns. Allaire owned a brass foundry in New York City, a stream packet line and various steamships that, together, gave him the resources to control his business from the raw materials to the finished product. The Historic Allaire Village that remains today reflects the ideals of James P, Allaire and of the industrial era that flourished between the end of the War of 1812 and the years just before the Civil War.

The rise and fall of Allaire’s business enterprises encompasses the period from 1822-1855, commonly referred to as the Jacksonian Era, during which began industrialization and mechanization on a large scale, and the rise of urban and rural industrial communities, reform movements such as temperance, anti-slavery, free churches and free schools. Through Allaire’s constant search for financing and capital the difficult economic times can be felt, particularly the Panic of 1837, the first economic depression to disrupt this nation’s economy.

Although the restoration of the Village is not yet complete, the buildings that remain, the interpretive programs based on a multitude of available primary records, and even the landscape make Allaire Village a rare resource. Through them, visitors are able to experience and better understand the forces that shaped New Jersey’s industrial power in the early 19th century.

During the War of 1812, an embargo on British products and goods caused businessmen like Allaire much difficulty in perocuring the resources needed for America’s fledgling industrial base. For Allaire, the embargo created a scarcity of iron stock necessary for his manufacturing operations and led him to look at acquiring a satisfactory means of assuring a steady, inexpensive supply of raw materials.

What initially interested Allaire in the property now know as Historic Allaire Village was the presence of significant quantities of bog iron ore. This bog ore, so called because of its formation in marshes and swampy areas, was a valuable resource in America before the discovery of vast ore deposits in the mountains of Northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Unlike the latter ore, bog ore is easily accessible and requires no deep shaft of trip mining to get it.

More significantly, bog ore is a renewable resource when minded and utilized with care. It is produced when rain water leaches out humic and tannic acids and carbon dioxide, which is produced as a part of the natural life-cycle of microorganisms in the soil. Part of this leachate consists of iron particles from deeper in the soil. As the water passes through these areas of loamy soil, also called marl, it deposits a solution of iron carbonate which rises up to the surface. This iron carbonate then combines with the surface soil and, over time, hardens into a solid mass. This process only takes about 25 to 35 years, making it an ideal, almost perpetual resource for industry but only if reated with respect. If the ore bed is left undeveloped and unpolluted, the beds can be mined indefinitely. Farther south in New Jersey. The operators of furnaces were forced to purchase ore from Staten Island, New York, because the ore beds had been over-mined.

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