In 1969 a group of dedicated citizens, hoping to save Poricy Brook from the impacts of a proposed sewer trunk line, formed the Poricy Park Citizens Committee. Their campaign was successful and in 1973 the Citizens Committee was incorporated as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization to begin the task of preserving the land that is now Poricy Park.
Between 1971 and 1973, using funds from private contributors, Middletown Township, The Nature Conservancy, and the New Jersey Green Acres Program, the Committee was able to purchase the land, build the park's Nature Center and restore the historic Murray farmhouse and barn.
The Township agreed to designate the park as a nature preserve and lease the park to the Citizens Committee for a nominal annual fee. Educational programs at the park began in the summer of 1975, and by 1978, a full schedule of programs for school classes and the public was underway.
The organization has since grown both in size and in the scope of its services. Because of this, in 2004, the Board of Directors and Members voted to change the name of the organization to the Poricy Park Conservancy (PPC).
Like other community based non-profit conservancies, PPC provides a wide range of benefits and services from stewardship of its New Jersey State Historic Site, to the presentation of special events for the public throughout the year.
The Murray Farmhouse and Barn are outstanding examples of middle class structures from Colonial times. Built ca. 1770 by Joseph Murray, a stonemason from Ireland, the farmhouse and barn remain on original foundations.
Simple plastered walls and brick fireplaces understate the sturdiness and charm of the original five-room house. In the rolling fields setting of the Park, a tour through the farmhouse and barn includes few intrusions from the 21st century.
The property stayed in the possession of the Murray family until 1861. It was approximately 1840 that a Murray grandson added to the house. The addition was retained to afford more room for programs. The property was farmed and the farmhouse inhabited until it was purchased in 1973 by Middletown Township.
The purchase was made at the encouragement of the Poricy Park Citizens Committee to save the land from development. The 250 acres now known as Poricy Park, were acquired by Middletown Township through a succession of land purchases from 1970 to 1973.
In 1973 the historic significance of the farmhouse and barn were unknown. Use and general repair of the buildings led to research revealing the rich history of the Murrays and their property. The barn was restored in 1978 and the farmhouse in 1981. They are still the property of Middletown Township and are maintained by Poricy Park Conservancy.
Joseph Murray was honored on May 15, 2021 with a permanent sign installed on the lane leading down to the farmhouse and barn.
Mr. Murray was an ordinary American who jumped in to serve his country in the militia gathering intel on the enemy troops and getting supplies for Washington’s troops. He was shot and bayoneted for his service and left to die in his cornfield.
In 2007, members of the Park tilled a section of land to create a Colonial Garden at the historic Murray Farmstead. Sweet corn, peas, beans, carrots and more have been harvested during the season. Rebecca Murray would have been pleased with these results!
Master Gardeners have harvested fresh vegetables for past annual 18th Century Colonial Tavern parties and events.