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New Montgomery Township Road Named for Historian

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted November 9, 2023

The first of two new loop roads coming to the intersection near routes 206 and 518 is Brecknell Way. The road — expected to open soon — is named for Montgomery Township historian Ursula Brecknell (October 6, 1922 – December 22, 2011).

Brecknell Way is a new loop road that connects Route 206 (near Starbucks) to Route 518. It runs behind the Tiger’s Tale restaurant and is expected to open in late November or December.

Brecknell was a Van Harlingen Historical Society trustee who lived in Belle Mead. She died at age 89 in 2011. She was widely known for her extensive knowledge of local history and Dutch architecture and her public service.

She had moved to Montgomery Township in 1964. She became editor of a foundling newspaper entitled The Montgomery Citizen, the township’s first paper. Following The Citizen’s demise, she produced a newsletter for the Educational Testing Service.

Montgomery historian Ursula Brecknell's name will appear on the township's newest road, which will connect Route 206 to Route 518.

Volunteerism and a sense of public service drew her to become a charter member of the Montgomery Township League of Women Voters, for which she offered to write a chapter on local history for their publication, “Know Your Township.”

At the invitation of Montgomery’s Bicentennial Committee, it was expanded into a book, Montgomery Township: An Historic Township, 1702-1972, covering the township architectural heritage and history.

In the course of time, Brecknell served on the Environmental Commission and as an advisor to the Montgomery Planning Board. She was instrumental in establishing the Landmarks Preservation Commission and chaired the Ad Hoc Preservation Study Committee charged with creating an Historic Preservation Ordinance to preserve historic elements in Montgomery.

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In 1987, her expertise was recognized when Governor Kean appointed her to the state’s Historic Sites Council. She was a charter member of the Van Harlingen Historical Society in which she remained active until her death. Over the years she served as president, vice-president, librarian and editor of the newsletter, which she published for over 30 years. The Society’s popular and long-running fund-raising events: May in Montgomery and the Wine & Cheese party, are part of her legacy.

Brecknell was also a trustee of the Somerset County Historical Society for which she produced an anniversary edition of their former Quarterly 1912-19. Her role as Montgomery Township Official Historian led to commissions for regional historical architecture monographs out of which came a consulting business, Historic House Surveys.

Brecknell wrote two books: “Montgomery Township: An Historic Community 1702-1972” and “Hillsborough Township: An Architectural History.” At the time of her death she was collaborating on a book of Dutch architecture in New Jersey.

She placed many historic Montgomery properties on the State and National Register of Historic Places: the Gulick House and the historic districts of Bridgepoint, River Road, and Blawenburg. She also prepared the Historical National Register nomination the Doris Duke estate.


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