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The Van Horne House

History has taken many forms at the Van Horne House over the past 300 years, reflecting Somerset County's history. The house and its site has seen the tracks of Native Americans, the development of early settlements, the struggles of the American Revolution and the growth of commerce and industry.

Indians considered the hill on which the present house sits sacred. It overlooked the Naraticong Trail which later became the Old York Road. The Indians sold the land in 1681 to Thomas Codrington.

In 1735, the site was the location of the Janeway and Broughton Store. John Broughton was Bridgewater's first Town Clerk. Philip Van Horne, the house's most famous and colorful owner, purchased the property 19 years later and built his home there. He was a generous and hospitable man who freely entertained both sides of the American Revolution, so much so that a concerned George Washington considered throwing him in a New Brunswick jail for treason. Van Horne's welcoming nature earned his home various nicknames: "Phil's Hill," "Phil's Hall" or "Convivial Hall."

During the Revolution, the house served as headquarters for Generals Benjamin Lincoln and William Alexander (Lord Stirling). In April 1777 at thr Battle of Bound Brook, Lord Cornwallis' troops marched to the house and skirmished with Patriot troops in hopes of capturing Patriot officers staying at the Van Hornes, but without any luck. General Benjamin Lincoln, who had been at the house escaped into the hills, "clad only in his breeches," according to one account.

From the Van Hornes, the house and property subsequently became part of a milling business, a residence for down-in-their-luck union members, and eventually was sold to Calco Chemical Company. The house is listed on the National and New Jersey Register of Historic Houses as a fine example of Corporate Colonial Revival, a tribute to the renovations done by Calco.

In 2002, The Heritage Trail Assocation moved its headquarters location into the newly renovated Van Horne House and completed entry of the home into the New Jersey Register of Historic places the same year. Today the first floor of the house is exhibit space, a gift shop and meeting rooms (available for rent). The second floor is office space. It is a fine example of adaptive re-use of an historic building.


Van Horne
Restoration Photos

(Click to Enlarge)

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The Heritage Trail Association received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

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Heritage Trail Association
Van Horne House:
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