When talking about Chester in southwestern Morris County, you need to distinguish between the Borough of Chester, which is the shopping village, and Chester Township, the surrounding area which is decidedly more rural. At about 1½-square miles, the borough is located at the intersection of Routes 206 and 24 and offers quaint streetscapes lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques, antique shops and restaurants. Chester Township includes 29.8 square miles of farmland, newer residential developments and historic homes.
Incorporated in 1799, over 40%--or 12 square miles--of the township is preserved as open space. There are nature reserves, parks and deed-restricted agricultural property under the state Farmland Preservation Program, which buys the development rights while allowing the farmer to retain title and continue working the land.
The Borough of Chester was incorporated in 1930, and is a separate municipality that shares many services with the township such as a library, first aid squad, fire department, community pool, athletic programs, civic organizations and schools.
Chester Borough is renowned for its shopping, restaurants and cultural opportunities, drawing visitors from around the state and beyond. A newer mall called The Streets of Chester offers a selection of upper-end fashion shops. Downtown Chester’s old-fashioned businesses including ice cream parlors, candy shops and specialty stores. A grocery store and several strip malls are also located in the borough.
There are many special events held throughout the year, including major spring and fall craft shows, classic car shows, holiday celebrations and Morris County’s largest Easter egg hunt.
The Chester Area Pool in Chester Borough is set on nearly five acres on North Road where it borders the Black River Middle School. There is a large main pool, a shallow interactive pool and a filtered infant pool as well as a small playground, changing rooms, bathrooms and a concession stand. Social events, swim lessons and a swim team are among the activities happening at the pool which is during the summer months.
Borough Park on Main Street/Route 513 includes an open field and gazebo. It is often the setting for fairs, shows and community get-togethers.
Students in kindergarten through grade eight from Chester Borough are in the Chester Township Public School District. The district is composed of Dickerson Elementary School (kindergarten through grade two), Bragg Intermediate School (grades three to five), andBlack River Middle School (grades six to eight). High school students attend West Morris Mendham High School, which is located in Mendham Borough and is part of the West Morris Regional High School District. Students also come from the surrounding school districts of Mendham Borough, Mendham Township and from Washington Township. It has been consistently ranked as one of the state’s top high schools by New Jersey Monthly magazine.
Commuters to midtown Manhattan often take the New Jersey Transit train from the Peapack station (about five miles south of Chester) to Penn Station, a rush-hour commute that takes roughly 90 minutes. Lakeland Bus runs from nearby Far Hills to Port Authority in midtown Manhattan, a trip of about an hour and ten minutes. Newark Liberty International Airport is about 38 miles from Chester Borough.
Chester Borough is located near a network of local highways including Routes 24, 202 and 206. Interstate highways Routes 78, 80 and 287 are short distances away.
A wonderful mix of housing is available in the borough, including many historic homes dating from the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s. There is also a selection of more recently built Cape Cod, ranch, Colonial and luxury homes in the borough.
The Chester Theatre Group was established in 1965. Located at Grove Street in Chester Borough, the 104-seat theater-in-the-round actively involves audiences and actors alike. Their motto is “A bit of Broadway in your backyard.”
The Rockefeller Building on Main Street, affectionately called “The Rock,” hosts art classes in a historic structure next door to Borough Park.
The Publick House Tavern and Inn is sited in a landmark brick building on Main Street. Built in 1810, is has been a hotel and tavern through the years, and is now a popular restaurant for both residents and visitors in the center of town.
Chester Borough Fun Fact: In the 1850s the Chester Hotel (today’s Publick House) was purchased for $3,650 as the future home of The Chester Institute, a private seminary school for young ladies.
Mass Transportation: New Jersey Transit train station in Peapack provides service to midtown Manhattan’s Penn Station. Lakeland Bus has service to Port Authority bus terminal in midtown Manhattan from nearby Far Hills.
Parks: Chester Area Pool on North Road, Borough Park on Main Street
Local Sites/Attractions: Main Street area for shopping and dining, The Chester Theatre Group, The Rockefeller Building, The Publick House Tavern and Inn.
Housing: Antique farmhouses, antique Colonials, luxury real estate, Cape Cods, Victorians, ranch homes, cottages and a variety of other architectural styles spanning the centuries.