Gone Camping in Cedar Knolls

by Erin Feith, Research Assistant
July 26, 2022

Though initially just over 100 acres, Cedar Knolls had a big reputation as a summer destination. The area drew visitors from near and far with the help of branding and advertising, and as many turned their weekend retreat into a forever home, the Morris County community transitioned from rural to resort to, finally, the residential area known today. 

Plate 12, Hanover, Mueller Atlas of Morris County, 1910

Before it was officially named and marketed in the early 20th century, the land that became Cedar Knolls extended across two of Hanover Township’s historic villages: Malapardis and Monroe.  The area remained largely rural and sparsely populated for much of the late 19th century until it was purchased by Menko H. Wolfe in 1913. Wolfe subdivided the 114-acre property previously owned by the estate of Charles W. Ford into 374 lots connected by 9 roadways.  Inspired by its unofficial name “The Knolls,” the new community was renamed “Cedar Knolls,” likely to highlight the land’s natural features to prospective buyers.

Newark Evening Star, August 12, 1914

Cedar Knolls fast became a resort destination, with Bertha Wolfe, sister of Menko Wolfe, establishing the W-B Camp & Bungalow Company which would have its own sales office in Morristown. Offering a piece of “Cedar Knolls in the Mountains,” the company listed ¼ to 1 acre lots on which bungalows would be constructed. It advertized the quarter acre lots for $10 (nearly $300 today) in local newspapers, promising buyers that they needn’t worry about building right away- a tent would allow for immediate enjoyment of their new summer getaway.

The fruits of these marketing efforts were visible by 1916 when the community boasted 50 bungalows, housing 300 people during the summer and, indicative of its future, 100 residents year-round. In fact, the growth of the community into one of full-time occupancy can be seen in the corresponding development of local institutions: the construction of a two-room school building, the establishment of the Cedar Knolls Fire Department in 1919 and a local post office in 1923. A vibrant community today, Cedar Knolls turned summer camp into home sweet home.