Hope, a village in rural Warren County, was the only New Jersey outpost of Moravians, an evangelical sect, who came to New Jersey from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1769 to spread the gospel. They built a gristmill, a distillery, a general store, a church, a school, and several homes. Many of these original limestone buildings are in use today. When the Moravians sold the village in 1808 it had 149 residents, and the village continued to grow; the distinctive stone, a single-arch bridge was built on High Street as a toll bridge in the early nineteenth century.
Hope was already in decline when a major fire destroyed several blocks of the Village in 1918. Aiming to reverse the trend by bringing traffic from the increasingly popular automobile into the village, an intersection of two county roads (Routes 521 and 519) was created in the center of town. Slowly traffic did increase through the village, but now it is a source of Hope’s problems. Hope became a tourist destination in 1986 when the gristmill, which is now a bed and breakfast and restaurant, was restored. Many other Moravian structures have been restored since.
While tourism has incentivized the preservation of many historically significant buildings, the increased traffic through the narrow streets – most of the buildings are very close to the street – is threatening to destroy what the community has worked so hard to preserve. The stone arch bridge, located on Route 519, is of special concern because there are no weight limits on county roads there, and many heavy trucks use Hope as a short cut to Route 80 or the nearby county waste incinerator. This truck traffic is causing vibrations that are damaging the historic fabric of this distinctive and charming place. Township officials and local preservationists have received no response from County officials whom they have asked for help in setting reasonable weight limits on County roads through Hope.
Robert May, Hope Historic Preservation Commission
PO Box 349,
Hope, NJ 07844