Originally published in The Review in Spring 2022.
The Harding Township Historical Society mourns the loss of one of our foundational members: Cynthia Cynthia McLean Margetts Robinson. Cynthia was a leader in the preservation and restoration of the Tunis-Ellicks house, the late eighteenth-century farmhouse that is the centerpiece of the Harding Township Historical Society. The house was purchased by the town in 1971 and was under consideration to be the police department headquarters. The town also considered tearing it down to build a new town hall on the site, which was eventually built elsewhere on land donated by the Kirby family. The bicentennial celebrations in 1976 spurred interest in the colonial history of Harding, inspiring the creation of Harding Township Historical Society in 1977. A petition with 150 names asked the town to support the restoration of the house. When the township agreed, the society had over 600 friends and members. Cynthia was appointed the chair of the restoration committee. Her leadership resulted in the house museum and parlor garden we have today. Cynthia left a substantial bequest to the historical society for which we are forever grateful.
Cynthia was dedicated to the preservation of the rural nature of Harding Township. She opposed the building of a jetport in the Great Swamp, appearing in the documentary film Saving the Great Swamp. She was chair of the Harding Township Environmental Commission and served on the Planning Board. She volunteered for the National Park Service at Jockey Hollow researching and planning the colonial herb garden at the Wick House. The mark Cynthia made on Harding Township remains to this day.
A memorial will be held Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 11 am at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Contributions can be made to the Great Swamp Watershed Association, PO Box 300, New Vernon, NJ 07976.