County: Hunterdon County
The Stockton Inn sits near the site of taverns dating back to the 18th century. The building is constructed of Stockton sandstone, presumably quarried from hillside directly behind the Stockton Inn. Sometime in the 1880s the hotel was remodeled with mansard roof, cupola and Victorian porch. It retains its Federal-style interior features including woodwork and staircase, as well as other features dating to the Victorian era such as the barroom entrance and a mid-20th century remodeling.
In 1915 the property was acquired by Enos Weiss, who had previously owned a hotel in Lambertville. His daughter Elisabeth and her husband William Colligan took over operation of the hotel. During prohibition it’s said to have been operated as a speakeasy serving “Wikecheoke cider”. The property was acquired by Elizabeth Colligan in 1922 and thereafter became known as Colligan’s Stockton Inn.The Colligan family operated the Inn for several decades beginning in 1915 and it became a well-known establishment popular with creative locals and visitors for the next 80 years. A patio with a waterfall and wishing well was added in the 1930s, which inspired the lyrics for “There’s a Small Hotel,” a Great American Songbook hit.
In 2015 it was acquired by an investor who tried to reinvent the Inn as a high-end restaurant, but it closed in 2017 and has since been vacant.
In 2020, a developer made plans to redevelop the property with a 780-seat outdoor concert venue, additional hotel rooms and a health spa. The project met local opposition due to the scale, traffic, parking, and noise concerns. The developer asked the Borough to designate the property as an area in need of redevelopment, however, the project was withdrawn in 2021 and the designation was not enacted.
Today the Inn sits vacant, and deteriorating with weather-related roof damage. The extended closure of this landmark has created a “dead zone” in the center of the active downtown. Preservation New Jersey supports adaptive reuse or if needed, sensitive redevelopment of the site that allows for preservation of the much loved Inn and respects the character of downtown.