What’s the oldest running business in New Jersey?
Picture a stagecoach in the middle of Gloucester County in the early part of the 18th century. It might’ve pulled up to the Barnsboro Inn in Sewell, by many accounts New Jersey’s oldest running business.
The Barnsboro Inn was built by a man named John Budd in 1720, according to a 2012 NJ.com feature (but it may have been 1740, depending on who you ask) and served hungry and thirsty travelers at the five-point intersection, including the roads to Cape May and Glassboro. Though it didn’t get its tavern license until the 1770s, according to Gloucester County's site, the one-time one-room cabin has been standing since well before.
At the time, travelers needed taverns every few miles to refresh them along the long and arduous stagecoach rides and the Barnsboro, and its original cedar log cabin fit the bill.
Like all taverns at the time, it was required by law to provide not only food and drink, but also two spare beds to accommodate weary travelers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2002. This popular stagecoach stop was a part of the Underground Railroad, according to an earlier Inquirer piece. It had been an ice cream parlor during prohibition. According to legend, the Barnsboro Inn was also a speakeasy.
Most of today’s building is a series of additions to the original structure. Ray Hill, a patron since the '50s and a handyman who has worked on the property, told the Inquirer in 2002 the squared logs from the original cabin are still visible in the dining room. Hill also says that the Inn boasted a huge 12-foot-wide fireplace and that a 35-foot-deep well, which served to the Inn was unearthed in the middle of the intersection when it was redone several years ago.
Now, it has several cozy dining rooms, each with its own fireplace. Decorated in a style that's English Countryside with painted scenes of pastoral hunts. The Barnsboro Inn was added to both the National and New Jersey registries of historic places in the early 1970s.
— Judi Franco
More from New Jersey 101.5: