Status: Progress Made
1/2009: A buyer has announced plans to purchase the Arneytown Tavern and restore it for use as his personal residence.
11/2009: The Arneytown Tavern was successfully purchased and the owner has completed a great deal of the exterior restoration.
3/2010: Steady progress is being made on the Arneytown Tavern restoration, and a caretaker is now in residence on the property. The owner continues to investigate potential future uses.
The Arneytown Historic District is a tiny 18th-century hamlet in North Hanover Township – one of those “blink-and-you-miss-it” places. It’s not your typical National and State Register district since the entire historic district consists of only three historic buildings — two houses and the old Arneytown Tavern. If it weren’t for the location of the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in the center of town, it might not get many visitors at all. However, Arneytown is not a placed to be missed – the architectural integrity of all three buildings, but especially of the Arneytown Tavern, is quite remarkable and significant. While the two historic residences in Arneytown are currently occupied, the Arneytown Tavern has been vacant and deteriorating for 7 years. The longtime owner passed away last year, and the tavern is currently for sale, leaving its fate uncertain. There is not a local historic preservation ordinance to protect the property from demolition or unsympathetic alterations to this important building.
Arneytown’s history began in the 1690s when it was settled by families who participated in the Quaker migration to the Delaware Valley in the 17th century, including Joseph Arney, for whom the town is named. The Arneytown Tavern dates to 1731, according to the Historic American Buildings (HABS) survey from 1936. The tavern was in a convenient location between East Jersey and West Jersey and was often used by both for sheriff’s sales. When the property in the center of town was advertised for sale in 1834, the village consisted of a store, a tavern, fifteen dwellings and a meeting house. The tavern was the first stop for stage coaches on their way from the “Falls of the Delaware (Trenton) to the Jersey seashore” according to the HABS documents. Early photos included in the HABS documentation show both the interior and the exterior to be remarkably similar to the current conditions of the tavern. The interior photos are especially striking, with virtually identical interior features in both the 1936 HABS photos and the current photos, including a walk-in kitchen fireplace, original wood mantles, a built-in corner cupboard, original wood floors and original hardware on the massive front door.
The Arneytown Tavern served as the center of community life in the 17th and 18th centuries – its survival will determine the future of Arneytown as a historic village. Many historic Arneytown buildings have already been lost. The isolated location of Arneytown does not provide commercial or public-use opportunities for these buildings. The only chance to save this important building and the historic nature of this hamlet is for someone to purchase the Arneytown tavern and restore it to its former glory before it’s too late.
NJ Deparment of Environmental Protection
Natural and Historic Resources
Historic Preservation Office
P.O. Box 404, Trenton, New Jersey 08625