Settled during colonial times, Basking Ridge is home to several major corporate entities and some very large condo communities. It is an unincorporated community located within Bernards Township in the Somerset Hills region of Somerset County.
Some major Fortune 500 corporations have settled down in Basking Ridge. It serves as the current headquarters for Verizon Wireless (the former AT&T site), Avaya, Applied Communication Sciences and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. This part of the township also includes Lyons, Liberty Corner, and West Millington. As of the 2000 Census, the population was 21,424.
Some of the first European settlers were English and Scottish Presbyterians who came to America to escape religious persecution. According to a historical account on the township website, the recorded history of Basking Ridge goes back to 1717, when John Harrison, an agent of King James III, bought most of what is now Bernards Township from Chief Nowenok of the Lenni Lenape Indians. The name "Basking Ridge" first appeared in the records of the Presbyterian Church in 1733 when a writer noted that wild animals would "bask in the sunlight on the ridge." At that time, the church was a log cabin on what is now East Oak Street. The current Presbyterian Church, built in 1839 in the Greek Revival style, is the third church on the site and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
There are many historic structures throughout the township. Built in 1809 as the Basking Ridge Classical School, this school prepared young men for the College of New Jersey, today's Princeton University. It has also served as a public school, a union hall, and a town hall. Currently it is the home to the Brick Academy Museum, a museum focusing on the history of Basking Ridge.
The Van Dorn Mill was built in 1768 as a wooden structure, then rebuilt using native stone in 1843. Known as the finest stone structure in New Jersey, the mill was constructed using thousands of stones hauled from the hedgerows of nearby farms. Builders were paid a dollar a day to rebuild the mill. Altogether, this amounted to $5,000, a large amount of money in the 1800s. However, the mill paid for itself in the first year of operation.