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Walking tour takes in roughly half (25) of the historic sites. Concentrates on sites in the NW and NE quadrants of the Historic District, those areas closest to the River. Its 1 1/2 to 2 hours duration is perfect for folks with limited time, or for those preferring less distance.
Walk back in time and engage your mind with Self-Guided Tours of historic sites in the City of Burlington. Available year-round, these are especially fun when taken during one of our special annual events (see Events Calendar). The Site Numbers (in circles: ) below may appear out of order, but the sites are arranged in order of best walking route.To help you find your way, print out a copy of our Historic District Map. Or, request a FREE Map Brochure– by <E-mail> or call (609) 386-3993. Supplies are limited.
Some sites may contain stairs. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Burlington Island 1624
Visible from Riverfront Promenade
The first recorded settlement in New Jersey places Europeans on this island in 1624. They were Walloons from Belgium who established a trading post to barter with the Indians. New Jerseys first record of an African presence notes slaves of a Dutch colonial official. Subsequent to the Dutch, Swedes and Finns occupied this island, finally seized by the English in 1664. The first murder in recorded New Jersey history took place on this island in the 1670s when two Indians murdered two Dutchmen. Since 1682 one of the oldest trustees in the nation, the Board of Island Managers, has administered funds from part of the island for the education of City students.
Hoskins House 1797-98
202 High Street
This colonial period structure has been restored as a model for restoration and preservation throughout the City of Burlington. Many of the restored furnishings and antiques are from our City. There have been several archeological digs, where pottery, jars, and tools have been uncovered.
Former Site, Isaac Collins Print Shop ca. 1680
206 High Street
At this location, Isaac Collins presided over a print shop where he published all government documents, including money, birth certificates and the minutes of the Royal Council. Collins arrived in Burlington in the 1760s and established himself as a printer of the first degree. His accomplishments included the states first weekly newspaper, The New Jersey Gazette, superb almanacs, and several editions of the Holy Bible. Ben Franklin used Americas first copperplate press here in Burlington to print New Jerseys first colonial currency.
Temple Bnai Israel 1801
212 High St.
One of South Jerseys oldest synagogues, Temple BNai Israel was established 1916. Originally, this structure was built for Lydia Ritche, and was later the home of U.S. Senator Garret Wall and his son, James, first mayor of the City of Burlington under the 1851 charter. The building became the residence of the McNeal family, founders of U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, and an adopted daughter, Marguerite V. Burton. Marguerite married a German Baron in 1912, and a German diplomats son in 1917, provoking a duel between them, and inciting international controversy during World War I.
Dr. John Howard Pugh House 1716
214 High Street
Known as the Counting House, this example of Georgian/Federal architecture was created after 1768 from two houses circa 1709 and 1716, with further alterations in 1860. Between 1767 and 1776 occupied by Samuel Allinson, author of a state laws compilation, and a member of the Friends prominent in local anti-slavery movements. His grandson, William J. Allinson, opened a pharmacy in town (see Burlington Pharmacy). Dr. J. H. Pugh moved to Burlington in 1854, living in the house from 1857 to 1905. During the Civil War, he served without compensation at the U.S. General Hospital in nearby Beverly. After the war, he served in the House of Representatives, resumed his medical practice, was president of the Mechanics National Bank of Burlington, and served on the State Board of Education. Much that is original to the private dwelling has been preserved by present owner, Mr. John A. Hammer, CPA, who has periodically opened the building to visitors during street fairs and other special events.
Site of Thomas Gardiner House was 1685
228 High Street
One of early Burlingtons most influential Quaker leaders, Thomas Gardiners new house was built on this site circa 1685. It has since been torn down. Gardiner served as Surveyor General of West Jersey. His son, also Thomas Gardiner, lived in his fathers house and attained the position of Treasurer of West Jersey.
Burlington Pharmacy 1731
301 High Street
This is the New Jerseys oldest pharmacy in continuous operation. It was reputedly nce a center of anti-slavery activity in Burlington, owned by Quaker William J. Allinson, an ardent abolitionist. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier denounced slavery from its doorstep, and oral tradition has it that tunnels under this building hid slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Isaac Collins, the royal printer, lived in this building from 1770 to 1778.
Dr. Richard Smith House 1700
315 High Street
The earliest parts of this building date to 1700 when it was constructed by Joseph Scattergood, a carpenter from Philadelphia, for Dr. Richard Smith. Dr. Smith sired one of colonial Burlingtons largest and most influential familes. Dr. Smiths son Richard Jr., was an international trader and representative to the Provincial Assembly. In 1720, he built the house now known as the Coleman House. He purchased Alcazar in 1739, and built the Blue Anchor Tavern next to it 11 years later. As his father Richard Jr. did, so too did Richard Smith, Esq. serve in the Assembly. Later State Treasurer, he served one term in the Continental Congress before resigning based on his Quaker opposition to the Revolutionary War. Later the bulding housed William R. Allen, a Whig, who served two terms as mayor, and for whom a school was named in honor.
Nathaniel Coleman House 1792
320 High Street
Nathaniel Coleman, a Quaker silversmith, lived in this home from 1793 to 1842. His work is now prized by collectors. The Friendly Institution, a local charitable society, was organized in this building on December 14, 1796. The Friendly Society continues doing good, charitable work to this day, over 100 years later.
Friends Meetinghouse orig. 1785
341 High Street
This buildings location has been the meeting place of area Quakers for over 300 years. The original seats and tables built during the Revolution are still in use. Constructed on the site of the original hexagonal meetinghouse used from 1685 to 1785. The building and grounds are reminders of the important contributions Quakers have made to the areas culture over the centuries.
Among the noteworthies interred in the burial grounds behind the building are founder of Bryn Mawr College Joseph Taylor, printer Isaac Collins, and missionary Stephen Grellet.
Chief Ockanickon Gravesite 1681
To the rear of the Friends Meetinghouse under a huge sycamore is a plaque and stone marking the grave of Chief Ockanickon, Chief of the Mantas tribe of the Lenape, and an early Native American friend of the settlers. A boulder near the tree bears his mark, and a bronze plaque with his last words: Be plain and fair to all, both Indian and Christian, as I have been.
Ulysses S. Grant House 1856
309 Wood Street
General Ulysses S. Grant brought Mrs. Grant and their children here in 1864 to avoid the physical conflict during the Civil War , and they lived here until the wars end in 1865. Grant visited his family prior to victories at Vicksburg and the Battles of the Wilderness.
On April 14, 1865, Grant and his wife twice declined President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary Todd Lincolns invitations to attend a play at Ford Theatre. Grant gave as his reason his promise to escort Mrs. Grant to Burlington to be with their children. That night, Lincoln was shot at the Theatre. Grant received the stunning news at midnight in Philadelphia, dining while awaiting a ferry to Camden to complete the final leg of his journey home. The General completed the trip with his wife, turned around, and dashed back to Philadelphia in time to catch a 6:00 am special train back to Washington.
Carriage House ca. 1876
23 Smith Lane
The Carriage House is a part of the 19th C. home of the Woolman family which was prominent in West Jersey business affairs. The Woolmans amassed a large fortune and were able to afford a luxurious home. The Carriage House was where the family horses and coaches were kept while not in use. This building is the City of Burlington Historical Societys Headquarters. It is often open for views of its authentic interior stables and lofts during special Event days.
Library Company of Burlington since 1758
23 W. Union Street
In 1757 The Library Company of Burlington was chartered by King George II for founder Thomas Rodman and John Reading as chief officer. It is the oldest library in continuous operation in New Jersey, and has the distinction of being the seventh oldest in the United States. Originally built 1789 as the first library building in the state, it was the first library in the U.S. to publish a catalog of books. The first patron was William Franklin, son of famous patriot Benjamin Franklin. Originally, over 70 individuals promised to pay 10 shillings a year to maintain and increase the library. Today, the library continues its uninterrupted service to the public, with historical volumes as well as modern texts, fast worldwide web access workstations, and a new distance-learning facility.
Gummere House ca. 1721
222 Wood Street
The Gummere brothers, John Gummere and Samuel R. Gummere, and Johns son, Samuel J. Gummere, were prominent members of the Society of Friends. They were distinguished scholars who greatly added to the fame of the City of Burlington as an educational center. They, with Dr. John Griscom of Burlington, played an important part in the establishment of Haverford College in 1833. John Gummere was appointed superintendent of the schools in 1834 and taught mathematics for a number of years.
Revell House 1685
213 Wood Street
This house is undoubtedly the oldest building in Burlington County, and one of the oldest residences in New Jersey. It was constructed in 1685 by George Hutchinson, a wealthy Quaker distiller, and sold to Thomas Revell who used the house as an office from 1696 to 1699.
Tradition places this as the home where Benjamin Franklin was sold gingerbread and given supper by a friendly Burlington woman on his way to Philadelphia. Thus, it is sometimes called the Gingerbread House. In Bens own words from his Journal:
...and got in the evening to an inn, within eight or ten miles of Burlington,..., and the next morning reachd Burlington, but had the mortification to find that the regular boats were gone a little before my coming, and no other expected to go before Tuesday, this being Saturday; wherefore I returned to an old woman in the town, of whom I had bought gingerbread to eat on the water, and askd her advice. She invited me to lodge at her house till a passage by water should offer; and being tired with my foot travelling, I accepted the invitation. She understanding I was a printer, would have had me stay at that town and follow my business, being ignorant of the stock necessary to begin with. She was very hospitable, gave me a dinner of ox-cheek with great good will, accepting only a pot of ale in return; and I thought myself fixed till Tuesday should come. However, walking in the evening by the side of the river, a boat came by, which I found was going towards Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as there was no wind, we rowd all the way;...
A juried crafts fair, the Wood Street Fair, is held annually, the first Saturday after Labor Day, for the upkeep of this historic home. The popular Fair is sponsored by Colonial Burlington Foundation.
Henry Grubb operated the first tavern in Burlington and his family was later involved in mining and manufacturing. This estate contained a tannery, a brewery and a brickyard.
The Grubbs were abolitionists and reportedly built tunnels under their home to the river to hide slaves, as noted in the Underground Railroad Tour.
Edward B. Grubb, his grandson, was a Civil War General and Ambassador to Spain and built the two Victorian-style homess. See his marble portrait bust in the Library Company of Burlington, discover more about his valorous exploits in Military Masters.
Shippen House & Riverbank Houses 19th C.
Early 19th century home of Judge Edward Shippen typifies the elegant houses lining the Riverbank, often used as summer retreats from the poisonous confines of Philadelphia. Daughter Peggy Shippen married famous traitor Benedict Arnold.
The waterfront area derives its name from Green Bank, the estate of Gov. William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin and last Royal Governor of New Jersey. His politics opposed those of his father, unto death.
Across Talbot Street is Stone Cottage, a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture designed by architect William Strickland, the home of Cortlandt van Rensselaer, founder of the Presbyterian Church in Burlington.
Ship Shield Marker
Inland side of Riverbank, west of Wood Street
On this site, the ship Shield, came to Burlington and tied up to a large buttonwood tree on December 10, 1678. Legend states it was so cold that overnight the river froze, and the passengers walked ashore on the ice. The Shield of Stockton was the first ship to navigate the Delaware from the Atlantic to Burlington, setting the stage for Burlingtons eventual emergence as the third largest port in the New World. In the distance, you can see the truncated V.F.W. Building which, in the eighteenth century, was the location of Green Bank mansion, home of the Royal Governor William Franklin, son of patriot Benjamin Franklin.
St. Mary's Hall 1837
St. Mary's Hall, now a private educational institution, was established by Episcopal Bishop George Washington Doane in 1837. That first year, the enrollment was 52. The instructors stressed classical studies and a high standard of education. Each semester cost $100 with an added charge of $6.00 for bedding. The building was lighted with whale oil and contains many original portraits and furnishings. This property has been placed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Oneida Boat Club House 1874
York Street at Riverfront
The oldest boat club on the Delaware in continuous operation, founded in 1873. Best viewed from the Riverfront Promenade. Not far from the City Boat Ramp, City Dock, the Riverfront Concert Series Bandstand, the Memorial Flags, and the Great Anchor.
Bethlehem African Methodist Episcopal Church 1855
213 Pearl Blvd.
Burlingtons oldest African American institution was founded in 1830. It is one of the oldest African American churches in the state. Originally constructed in 1836, the building was replaced in 1855, remodeled in 1873 and again in the 1980s. Beside it are but a few of the 212,000 graves of African American Union Army and Navy Civil War soldiers.
In 1833 Pastor Rev. Jeremiah H. Pierce legally challenged forced segregation of his four children into Burlingtons all-black elementary school and won this landmark case.
Friends Schoolhouse 1792
York Street between Penn and E. Union Streets
This small brick schoolhouse housed many Quaker students who were taught the three Rs. The Quakers stressed education, feeling that a young person must be prepared to accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Discipline was strict and the students spent long hours attempting to solve the mysteries of long division and Latin. This building contains many photographs, books, and documents of Burlington.
In 1977, the City of Burlington Historical Society placed a time capsule in these grounds to be opened in 2077 to celebrate four centuries of Burlington history.
Oliver Cromwell House 1798
114 E. Union Street
Final residence of Oliver Cromwell, African American Revolutionary War soldier, one of the approximately 5,000 who served. Oliver crossed the Delaware with Genl. George Washington Dec. 25, 1776, and battled at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth and Yorktown.
George Washington personally signed Cromwells discharge papers.
Endeavor Fire Co. 1795
19 E. Union Street
The Endeavor, is the oldest fire company in the State of New Jersey under the same name. It was established by John Hoskins, Jr. and other Quakers in an effort to solve the growing problem of fires in eighteenth century Burlington. Each member was required to obtain a bucket, a ladder and axe, and to pass a morals test.
The spire on top of the Endeavor stood on the original Town Hall and Market House 1797 which was on High Street at Union. Today the Endeavor is but one of six fire companies which bravely serve the people of the City of Burlington.
Now that youve completed the Half-a-tour, be sure to come back to the City of Burlington Historic District and Tour the Other Half-a-Tour.
NOTE: Some of the sites listed in Tours (4-5, 7, 11, 13-23, 25-28, 30-33, 38-44) are private property owned by individuals or organizations, and must be viewed and enjoyed with respect from without.
These contacts are offered only to aid those interested in requesting access to the following private interests:
Burlington County Historical Society 453 High Street (properties include Bard-How House, Cooper House, Capt. Lawrence House, Delia Biddle-Pugh Library at the Corson Poley Center and Aline K. Wolcott Museum) For walking tours, tours of the interiors of their buildings, hours and more information call (609) 386-4773
City of Burlington Historical Society Carriage House, Ellis Lane (properties include Hoskins House, Carriage House, Friends School House) For information call (609) 386-7125
Bethlehem African Methodist Episcopal Church 213 Pearl Blvd. Tours by arrangement (609) 386-6664
Burlington Friends Meetinghouse 341 High Street Tours available by arrangement (609) 387-3875
Temple B'nai Israel 212 High Street For more information call (609) 386-0406
See the past for yourself– its our present to you. Welcome to the City of Burlington.
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