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H. W. Alward, Inc.

Wheeled Excavator at Alward’s, Bernardsville Brd. of Adjustment, Application 21-12, Exhibit S. Click to enlarge.

The intersection of Pill Hill Road and Mount Airy was once called Oak Stump Corner and has a rich history. [1]   On the northwest corner in Bernardsville was the long-time home of the H. W. Alward construction company.  Founded by Henry W. Alward (1905-1971), the company provided employment for many in the area, and its trucks and equipment were well known around the Somerset Hills and throughout the state.

Henry W. Alward was a native of Meyersville in Long Hill Township.  In 1927, he married Alice D. Acken at the Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church.[2] The couple built a new house near Oak Stump Corner (161 Mount Airy Road), which served as a home and office.  Henry ran the business at the Mt. Airy location from 1928 until his retirement in 1968.[3]

Bernardsville News, Nov. 29, 1928, p. 8

Alward worked initially as a mason.  An advertisement in 1928, touted his fireplaces, “Built right and guaranteed not to smoke.”  The business grew steadily by bidding on local construction and road projects.   In 1929, Henry Alward was paid $245 for masonry improvements by the Borough of Bernardsville.  Alward’s other projects included masonry work on a new school building (1930) at Bonnie Brae in Liberty Corner, two cobblestone piers (1936) at the Route 202 driveway to Bernards High (now site of TD Bank), the widening of Henry Street in Basking Ridge (1942), and construction on Mine Brook Road (1949) and Cherry Lane (1953) in Bernards Township.[4]

Alward’s at Oak Stump Corner, 1935.

In 1941, the business suffered a setback when Alward bought a property containing an old gravel pit on Meeker Road in Bernardsville with the intention of producing crushed stone.  Neighbors, including Charlotte Bergen and Wallace Burgoyne, objected to the noise of the stone crusher.  Ultimately, the Bernardsville Board of Adjustment shut the operation down.[5]

The company incorporated as H. W. Alward, Inc. in 1946,[6] the same year that Henry purchased the neighboring lot on the corner of Pill Hill from Mary and Anthony Ferrante.  The corner lot then became Alward’s main work yard.[7] 

By 1949, the company had crews working out-of-state and was licensed as a contractor in North Carolina.  In later years, the company focused on the installation of water and sewer pipes. In 1967, Alward installed a 12-inch water main for the Bernards Water Company in Martinsville Road from Allen Road south to Mt. Horeb Road.[8]

The company was a major employer in the area and local men like Ed Amerman and Simon Apgar from nearby Decker Street would be seen walking to work daily at Alward with their lunchboxes. 

Following the death of Henry Alward in 1971, the company and property were sold.[9]  In the following years, the Alward lot on Mt. Airy became a source of continuing environmental concern.  In 1973, the Bernardsville News reported that the Borough of Bernardsville was testing three underground gas tanks at Alward after the stream near Pill Hill Road caught fire.[10]  As of 2024, H.W. Alward at 161 Mt Airy Road, Bernardsville was listed by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection as an active site with an investigation/cleanup in progress.[11]


[1] For more on Oak Stump Corner, see the October 2021 THSSH Newsletter, page 4.

[2] Bernardsville News, Dec. 29, 1927, p. 4.

[3] Henry and Alice Alward later moved their residence to Far Hills and then to Anderson Hill Rd., Bernardsville. The business office remained at 161 Mt. Airy.

[4] Bernardsville News, Nov. 29, 1928, p. 8; May 23, 1929, p. 4; Sept. 11, 1930, p. 1; Aug. 6, 1942, p. 1; Jun. 30, 1949, p. 4; Nov. 5, 1953, p. 1.

[5] Bernardsville News, Feb. 20, 1941, p. 1; Jun. 5, 1941, p. 1.

[6] Bernardsville News, Jan. 17, 1946, p. 6.

[7] Somerset Co. Deed Book 1026, p. 601.  The 1946 deed was not recorded; a second deed was executed in 1962.

[8] Bernardsville News, Jul. 20, 1967, p. 5.

[9] Bernardsville News, May 22, 1969, p.1.

[10] Bernardsville News, Sept. 6, 1973, p. 12.

[11] NJ Department of Environmental Protection.  Site ID: 670822, Site Remediation Program Interest (PI) Number: 940821.

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  1. Hi Joseph, Maybe they were standard in Jersey City, but these were tiny for Bernards Twp. I’ve always heard them…

  2. Not sure where you got your information about "picnic" lots, but a 25' x 100' lot was a standard size…

  3. The trust bought the open land (athletic fields and woodland). The site of the buildings was sold to a developer.

  4. I hope the open space will still be preserved. Did the trust own the mansion when it was demolished?