Saturday, March 24, 2012

Strolling through Cranbury, New Jersey

Strolling through Cranbury, New Jersey

The Village of Cranbury, located in southern Middlesex County, New Jersey, is a small but charming community. The earliest records of the town date back to March 1, 1698, when a deed of sale for land “with all improvements” was recorded between Josiah Prickett and John Harrison. However, it is believed that there were settlers in the area as early as 1680.

Cranbury was established along what would later become George’s Road, one of the main roads between New York City and Philadelphia. Since it was roughly half-way in between these two major cities, it would see many travelers and thus necessitated the building of inns. It was roughly a day’s trip in each direction to either city by stagecoach and was a logical location to stop and change horses or spend the night. The present Cranbury Inn, was built circa 1800 by Peter Perrine as his home. It was converted in 1808 by Captain Timothy Horner, who named it the United States Hotel. In 1920, it was renamed the Cranbury Inn.

During the Revolutionary War, Cranbury temporarily became headquarters for the American army. Both Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette quartered in Cranbury on June 25, 1778 and General George Washington and his staff set up a headquarters on June 26th. Washington and his army arrived at Cranberry Town (sic) at 9:00 am on Friday, June 26th, having marched the night from Kingston. From Cranbury, Washington issued many orders related to the Battle of Monmouth, approximately fifteen miles away. After sundown on June 26th, Washington sent his last dispatch at 9:30 pm and left Cranbury.

After the Revolution, Cranbury remained a mostly agricultural town, with a grist mill, tanneries, blacksmiths, carriage manufacturers, and wheelwrights. A number of homes and churches dotted Main Street. The first schools were organized in 1850. In 1896, a large brick schoolhouse was built to consolidate the smaller one-room schools. Today, the Old School serves as Cranbury’s Town Hall.

The Camden and Amboy Railroad came through Cranbury in 1832. A stop was established at Cranbury Station. The route stretched from South Amboy to Camden.

Cranbury has been spelled many ways throughout its history. On maps dating to the mid 1800s, the name appears as Cranberry, Cranberry Town, or Cranbury. In 1857, Reverend Joseph G. Symmes argued that Cranberry was an improper spelling and that the "Bury" was more appropriate and in the manner of Old English. By 1869 the name permanently changed to Cranbury. On March 7, 1872, Cranbury Township was officially established from parts of South Brunswick and Monroe Townships.

In 1979, Cranbury’s special characteristics were recognized when over 200 buildings were entered into the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. The village was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Today as you walk down Main Street, passing by many homes that were built over 200 years ago, along the same streets that Revolutionary troops marched down when heading toward the Battle of Monmouth, you gain a feeling of nostalgia because of the care and passion the homeowners put into their properties, preserving the architecture and elements that make Cranbury a window into the past.

Additional photos of my trip to Cranbury on Pinterest

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Cranbury looks like a neat little town. Maybe on my travels across NJ I'll pass through this summer!

I love Cranbury - I used to live and work nearby. I remember having lunch one day and seeing them film a scene from that Meg Ryan/Walter Matthieu Einstein movie there!

So fun to roam the streets and see all the fabulous historical buildings.

Cranbury, New Jersey is a very good place. I always think going there but do not have time right now. This coming holiday I will definitely arrange my schedule so that I can be there. So many nice information I heard by my frends about it.

My grandparents owned a house right on Main Street and I lived there for a year. It's a pretty unforgettable little town.

I used to ice skate on the lake in the early 1970's. The fire house was located across the street and each night they would spray water on the ice. It would freeze overnight and the next day the ice would be smooth again

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