We are rich in history here in New Jersey. Major battles have been fought on our fields. New Jersey communities were started by immigrants coming over by ships from lands afar. When possible, we have preserved that rich history. One of the cherished pieces of our American history is our restaurants and taverns that were built hundreds of years ago.

When I mention how I am taken back by the history here in New Jersey, there is always someone that will remind me that if I took a trip to Europe I would see structures and fields that were thousands of years old. You are correct, I’ve been to Europe and I have taken in with much admiration the amazing history of a continent, but I live in New Jersey, and this was a destination of many of those European and other immigrants from other continents

So with that said, here are a few of New Jersey’s oldest restaurants and taverns that are still in existence, and that for the most part have continued serving as an inn or tavern, in no particular order.

The Farmhouse — Hampton, NJ

Originally built in 1685 by master craftsmen, the Farmhouse still exudes a wonderful charm. The amazing stonework of all the current fireplaces were brought over in the ballasts of European ships to help stabilize their trip across the Atlantic. Amazing! It was taken over by Landmark Hospitality in 2018 and converted into a sprawling wedding venue with care to preserve many of the original elements of the Farmhouse. It still remains the oldest structure in Hampton, NJ.

Barnsboro Inn — Sewell, NJ

The rich history of the Barnsboro Inn in Sewell is long and successful. In March of 1776 John Barnes petitioned the judges of Gloucester County for a license to run an Inn which stood atop a hill and in the middle of an intersection of 5 roads. He received that license that day in 1776 and the tavern has maintained it every year since. The Inn has gone through some changes in the close to 250 years of existence but true to form its history and most of the structure still stands intact and you can go in there and get a great burger and a cold beer.

Black Horse Tavern & Pub — Mendham, NJ

When I walked into the Black Horse Tavern and Pub there is an aura that surrounds you. The tavern built in 1742 was said to be General Washington’s headquarters during the war but there is no real proof supporting that claim, regardless I love the feeling that you get when you walk in there. There is a respect for the history there and the fare of a great burger or meal and a beer or two lives on. I sat at the bar and while it slopes a tad, sorry, you get the feeling that history happened right there many years ago.

There were only a few owners of the storied tavern. The tavern was originally owned and claimed in 1740 by John Schuyler and his brother Phillip along with some business acquaintances who received letters and patent from the King of England, according to an article in Appleton’s Journal in 1874. Interesting history surrounds the Black Horse Tavern, definitely worth the trip, save me a seat.

Moore’s Tavern — Freehold, NJ

I’ve been in Moore’s Tavern and they have renovated the structure so that it assimilates and keeps the Revolutionary look. It’s evident that most of the original structure and interior has been changed although there is a wall in the bar area, which is big by the way, that may contain some of the original beams. According to the Moore’s Taverns web site: the history of Moore’s can be traced to Moses Mount, who lived in the original structure which now serves as our tavern. Moses was an aide to General Washington during the Revolutionary War. Upon his return to his beloved Freehold, Moses began operating a tavern in his home, at this location, for the local gentry and an inn for weary travelers.

According to an order of the Monmouth County court of Quarter Sessions, dated April 25, 1787, Moses was granted a “continued license” for “keeping a public house of entertainment.” The date of the earliest license was granted to Moses has not been determined.

Ye Olde Centerton Inn — Pittsgrove, NJ

This is what I’m talking about. The Ye Olde Centerton Inn is the oldest continually operating inn in the state of New Jersey. It has been serving weary travelers with food, drink and lodging since 1706! Owners Brian and his wife Joanne Goode purchased the inn in 2003 and preserved its revolutionary charm and history. Much of the inn still remains and the inn serves classic American dishes. 300 years of serving the community, wow! This is a place that has a very authentic feel and I highly recommend that you check out the inn and surroundings, a great piece of American history and folklore.

The Cranbury Inn — Cranbury, NJ

The Cranbury Inn has been functioning as a place to eat and drink since the 1750s. According to the Cranbury Inn website: In the year 1800 Hannah Disbrow Dey & Peter Perrine were married in the Presbyterian Church across the street from The Cranbury Inn. Middlesex County Courthouse records report that “they built as their home the house that is now The Cranbury Inn”. Their house was built across the front of the two original taverns built in 1750 & 1765, there is a ton of history available about the Cranbury Inn and surrounding Cranbury, including a booklet about General Washington and Hamilton exchanging important letters and meeting in Cranbury a few buildings down from where the inn now stands. I encourage you to go on the website for an amazing history lesson and better yet go to the Cranbury Inn and see for yourself.

There are other taverns and inns here in New Jersey that have a rich history but some of these changed purposes, remained dark for long periods of time or were refurbished without any historic footings. Some of the other historic taverns and/or inns are:

The Clinton Inn — Clinton, NJ

Ho-Ho-Kus Inn — Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

Sergeantsville Inn — Sergeantsville, NJ

Yankee Doodle Tap Room (Nassau Inn) — Princeton, NJ

While enjoying the history of our Great State, enjoy a burger and a pint, just like our forefathers did more than 250 years ago. Pretty cool.

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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