Overview of Matthews Farm, indicating its location directly east of Route 206 and north of Rutland Rd. The farm is now set for preservation.

Iconic Montgomery Farm Set for Preservation

Posted on December 21, 2018

The Opies Mill Pond Bridge may be the official symbol of Montgomery Township, but the Matthews Farm on Rt. 206 is a landmark equally known and admired. Having reached agreement with the owners, Montgomery Township officials at Thursday night’s meeting approved preservation of this scenic farm in perpetuity as open space.

Mayor Christine Madrid shared her excitement in being able to bring to fruition this long-term open space goal of Montgomery Township.

“Montgomery’s leadership has accomplished a priority goal by preserving this representative farm in its highly visible spot along Rt. 206. It’s a living piece of Montgomery’s agricultural past with a ‘one-of-a-kind’ pastoral view. What driver on Rt. 206 hasn’t admired the flaxen brown horse or gazed with awe at the huge lighted wreath on its red barn silo this time of year?”

View north from Rutland Drive of the Matthews Farm, including its beloved unofficial ‘mascot’ Chester the Horse. The farm has been approved for preservation by Montgomery Township. Photo Credit: Clem Fiori

Montgomery Township Committeeperson Ed Trzaska added, “I am thrilled to finally get this iconic farm preserved.  It has been on the top of our open space wish list for over a decade.  Having this land and barn on the main street in town embodies our rural character and helps set Montgomery apart from other communities. Since this land is commercially zoned, it likely would have been developed in the future. Thanks to the hard work of many people, this protected viewshed will instead be enjoyed for generations to come.”

The farm remains the home of property owners Don & Pat Matthews. Purchased in 1952 by Don’s parents, for many years it was a fully operational dairy farm. The farm has been the site of public events such as Van Harlingen Historical Society’s “May in Montgomery” in the past. Now in their older years, the owners take great pride in maintaining the barns and other farm buildings and just keep a few horses and cows around for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. “Chester” the horse is a popular attraction for the neighborhood kids.

The Township agreement will preserve approximately 7.5 acres for the 9.3 acre commercially zoned property, which otherwise would have had strong development potential, given its frontage on Route 206. The Township also negotiated a viewshed easement, which will prohibit any structures within 175’ of Route 206. The Township also negotiated a restriction on the exterior of the barns for the next 10 years, or the lifetime of the property owners.

View southeast from Rt. 206 of the newly preserved “Matthews Farm” a highly recognizable parcel of farmland, representative of Montgomery’s rural history. Photo Credit: Clem Fiori.

The property is directly across the street from 160+ acres of preserved open space on the west side of Route 206, known as the former Runyon and Beekman farms.

The Township is purchasing the development rights of this farm for $1.43M, which breaks down to $191,000/acre. The Matthews will continue to own and maintain the farm.

Source: Montgomery Township Planning Dept.