Skip to main content

Barry Lakes History

Barry Lakes is a private lake community situated upon approximately 1,000 acres of land and containing approximately 1,200 home sites. It's located within Vernon Township, in Sussex County, New Jersey, and is comprised of 625 household on single, double, and in some cases, larger lots.

Since 1977, the community has been operated by the Lake Community Property Owners Association, which is comprised of Barry Lakes property owners.

In 1980, the L.C.P.O.A. purchased the recreational facilities and roads from the developer, which includes five lakes, a playground, ball field, basketball court, beach house, beach area, and clubhouse. The Association owns and maintains approximately 13 miles of roads.

The L.C.P.O.A. holds various events throughout the year for both children and adults including the annual Labor Day party to close out the season.

Area History

The Lenni Lenape Indians were the first people in the area, or at least the first to leave written records. In 1648 there were 8,000 Indians in all of New Jersey; so the state was sparsely populated with Indians even at their civilization's height. But there were a few Indian shelters to the North and East of the present Wawayanda Lake. Wawayanda Road, from the park to Lake Wanda (and maybe further), was a Lenni Lenape trail.

In 1846 the Wawayanda mine and furnace began operation, built by a company that still exists, the Ames Shovel Co. The furnace formed pig iron for use in factories elsewhere. The mine's heaviest use was during the Civil War, but just afterward it changed ownership and finally stopped functioning in 1891. The furnace itself was last used in 1867.

There was a town of Wawayanda, first called Double Pond, situated around the furnace. Foundations from this town remain today. Wawayanda and the little town of Cherry Ridge—which was located between Upper Greenwood Lake and what is now Highland Lakes—were the only communities on the mountain until Highland Lakes started development in the early 1930's. For those not involved in the mines, the mode of living in these areas was subsistence farming.

In 1890-1917, the land in the Wawayanda area changed ownership several times, and was finally bought in 1918, by the New Jersey Zinc Co., which still exists. Until 1954, N.J. Zinc used the land to harvest trees for use as support timbers in the mines in Franklin and Ogdensburg. You can still see stumps from the operation even on Barry Lakes land and "skid roads" that were formed by logs dragged by horses or mules.

In this century, the property of Barry Lakes itself was first owned by the descendants of John Rutherfurd, who was a partner in the original Wawayanda mining operation and others. One of the other owners in this century was a Dr. Edward Meakin Livingston (1895—1969), commonly known as “Doc” Livingston, whose name is given to certain ponds in, and a section of, Wawayanda State Park. The last Rutherfurd lived in the old house on what is now Blue Heron Terrace in Sunset Ridge. Dr. Livingston lived here too, and so did Walter Keogh-Dwyer, the late State Assemblyman and Vernon Mayor.

The last Rutherfurd family, as well as a Burrows family, and others, ran subsistence farms until the late 1940's or so. A small school was also located in the central or southern part of Barry Lakes. Then in about 1949, Walter Keogh-Dwyer bought Rutherfurd's and other properties and formed the two large Barry Lakes, which cover an area that used to be swamps and fields.

With his own construction machinery, Keogh-Dwyer attempted to develop the area as a lake community. But he built few roads and sold only one property to a home-owning family, the Fatzynytzes, in the early 1950's.

In 1963, New Jersey bought most of the current Wawayanda land as one of the first acquisitions in the Green Acres program. Also, in about 1964, the Appalachian Trail, which used to run through the center of what is now Barry Lakes, was rerouted to its current position.

In 1964, developing partners, Davis, Handler & Blackman began buying most of the Keogh-Dwyer land and developing it as a summer lake community. They bought and sold this land piecemeal and, in the beginning, granted deeds to buyers before they themselves had title to it. They also built the current roads as development proceeded. Blackman died in 1965, and Handler bought out Davis in about 1970.

The log cabin these developers first used as an office was located on Ye Olde Tavern Drive. This building became a tavern in about 1966, with Handler and company owning the liquor license it was used that way until about 1973. The liquor license was sold to Hidden Valley. The log cabin was sold to private owners in the late 1970's and currently is renovated and expanded to where it doesn't look anything like its original self.

Originally the Davis-Handler company built only two types of houses, one a little ranch, and the other larger and L-shaped. Both had carports.

In addition, there were to be three beaches, but only two were built, and just one (originally named "Beach 2") exists today at the clubhouse. The other one used to be at the far north end of the large lake.

In about 1975, the section of Barry Drive North from Wagon Wheel Road to Hickory Road was rebuilt from a dirt road and paved to the beginning of Barrett Road, which was still dirt at that time.

The last of the Keogh-Dwyer land was sold at this time or just after, and was developed into Sunset Ridge by an outside company.