New Hope Borough municipal offices are located at 41 North Main St, New Hope PA 18938.
Photo: A view of New Hope, PA from Goat Hill Overlook Lambertville, NJ. Photographed by wikipedia username: Enzo Arcamone, own work, 2018, [cc-4.0], accessed June, 2023.
Not the New Hope you were looking for? See Town of New Hope, Collin County, TX.
The report, Historic Resources of New Hope Borough [‡], was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The Borough of New Hope is located in central Bucks County southeastern Pennsylvania. It is bounded by the Delaware River and the State of New Jersey on the east, and by Solebury Township on its other three sides. The Borough was part of Solebury Township until its incorporation as a separate municipality in 1837. It contains about 930 acres of land. The topography is similar to that found in many towns along major rivers; in that the land rises steeply away from the Delaware River. A small stream, Ingham Creek, flows from a natural spring beyond the Borough and into the Delaware. This fast moving creek was exploited for water power during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Delaware Division Canal was cut through the Borough in 1832. It was only after this important transportation route was in place that New Hope developed into a major town. Prior to this, it had been primarily a ferry point on the York Road between Philadelphia and New York with some industry.
At present (1984), New Hope is a heavily visited tourist town. The buildings are constructed of stone, brick or frame with many of the surviving eighteenth century structures done in stone. At present, 30% of the buildings are stone, while 20% are brick. The frame buildings constitute 50% of the building stock within the Borough; and are a mixture of braced frame and balloon frame systems with the shift to all balloon frame building starting about 1870 - 1880.
While New Hope was settled in the early eighteenth century, it is primarily a nineteenth century town. Until about 1820 the town was most notable as a ferry crossing on the York Road at the Delaware River and for the powerful stream that provided water power for a number of mills of various types. The original Heath Mill (c. 1702) was located up Ingham Creek within the Springdale Historic District. This was the first mill within the Borough limits and it was followed by a series of other mills. Most of these early mills, which no longer survive, were iron processing operations and saw mills; while there were a few linseed oil and flax mills. Most of the eighteenth century was devoted to settlement and utilization of the water resources for both transportation and industry. Within the Borough there are over 20 surviving eighteenth century structures. The most famous of these is perhaps the Parry Mansion which was constructed in 1784 by Benjamin Parry. It is a five bay, two story, double pile structure and is one of the better examples of Federal style architecture in the Borough. Since its construction it had been the Parry family seat until it was deeded to the New Hope Historical Society in 1966.
In 1798 Benjamin Parry commissioned a map of his holdings within the Borough. This provides a clue to the size of the village, but it does not include any of the structures to the south of his own holdings. These were primarily Van Sant lands. The map also does not show any structures that are in the Springdale area. The records of the 1798 federal direct tax do not exist for Solebury Township and, therefore, not for New Hope.
That 1798 map shows 33 structures within the main village. The Parrys owned the grist mill whose foundations now make up part of the Bucks County Playhouse. They also owned 6 houses, a store, stables, a cooper's shop and an unnamed shop. The only other industrial site listed was the Van Sant sawmill. The Parry family owned the only store in town in 1798. It still survives on Main Street. Other mercantile buildings in the village were the Beaumont owned hatter's shop and the tavern. This tavern is incorporated in the fabric of the Logan Inn. Oliver Paxson also operated a salt store near the Ferry. Most of the other buildings in town were dwellings (14 structures). The oldest surviving dwelling is the Wilkinson House, built about 1745.
The Parry map shows only two streets in the village. The principal road is the York Road. The other follows the River and is, in fact, called the River Road outside the Borough. In 1798 the River Road followed Waterloo Street to the Parry Mill and then swung north onto present-day Main Street. At the western end of the Borough, development was concentrated around the toll house crossroad on York Road and at the site of the original Heath House. The first mill at the site appears to have survived to the early nineteenth century before being replaced.
The surviving eighteenth century buildings are local, popular interpretations of Georgian and Federal style dwellings. The Parry Mansion has already been noted as a Federal style dwelling. The heavy keystone lintels and its dormers are good examples of Federal elements. However, its entrance way and the gable end wing reflect older architectural ideas.
The oldest stone structure in the Borough is the Wilkinson House. It is a small three bay, single pile dwelling with simple detailing that reflects its origins in the early part of the settlement of New Hope. Similar in design to the Wilkinson House is the Stone Row on Ferry Street. Built about 1795, it is a series of two bay, single pile dwellings built as housing for local workmen.
Two of the best examples of frame construction during the eighteenth century are the Parry House, built in 1795 and the Flood House, built about 1785. Both buildings have been enlarged but both still reflect their original configurations through window treatment and roof structure and use of braced frame building technology.
In 1814 an important addition was made to the village. That year a bridge was constructed across the Delaware River connecting New Hope and Lambertville. It was a wood span covered bridge, resting on stone piers. Along with erecting the bridge, the town also laid out a new street, Bridge Street, and thus opened the way for further expansion. The structures on Bridge Street all date from the construction of the Bridge, or afterwards.
The next physical change of consequence occurred in 1832 when the Delaware Division Canal was constructed. It was built to facilitate the transport of coal from upstate Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Its construction required a large sum of money, large amounts of imported labor and a good deal of engineering skill. Seventeen locks were constructed along its length as well as numerous viaducts over low lying terrain. Four of those locks are within the current bounds of the Borough. In addition, there is an outlet to the Delaware River and across to the Delaware and Raritan Canal in New Jersey.
The Canal greatly spurred growth within the town. The canal company built numerous buildings in New Hope. They include lock houses, toll houses, company offices and shops. There was also a boat yard in the Borough.
The canal company preferred to build in stone and most of its surviving structures are of that material. Their design is of no particular style. The canal houses are small, two story dwellings of a sort that were built for workers housing elsewhere in the Borough. They all have gable roofs and usually contain two or three rooms on each floor.
During the 1850s two maps were prepared of the Borough. The first was done in 1850 and present day streets had been constructed and they were mostly in their current configuration. At this time there were about 160 structures in the Borough. Of these buildings, most still survive and are included within the nominated areas.
In 1859 an anonymous traveler passed through New Hope and upon his return to his home in Norristown, PA, he published an account of his journey. His impression was not overly favorable as he says,
"But such a town: were it not hung on to Lambertville by a good, substantial bridge ...why it would have been washed down the river by the freshets, and nothing but an ugly hollow would remain to show the site of New Hope. The houses are mostly wooden and very small; there are no pavements...".
In studying the maps and the surviving structures from the mid-nineteenth century, it becomes apparent that there were actually several different communities within the Borough of New Hope. The area within the Springdale Historic District near York and Sugan Roads has always been an industrial area and is located about three quarters of a mile from the main village. Within the village itself, there was a separate industrial community that sprung up around the Lepanto Mills with its mill workers' housing on Mechanic and Mill Streets. A third community was concentrated along Ferry and Bridge Streets. These were the two main mercantile streets. It was on these streets that the hotels, banks, shops and homes were built for a business community. A fourth community was created by the Canal which tended to concentrate most of its related functions to the south of Ingham Creek. These included boat yards, locks, shops and canal company stores and offices. A fifth community, and one that is not usually associated with the Borough, is a farming community. Most of the surrounding townships are rural and agricultural in nature. This was, though, also true of large sections of New Hope during the nineteenth century as well as at the present time. In fact, three of the individual properties, the Kitchen House, the Rhoad Homestead Complex and the Ely House were all rural farm houses and still retain their rural character and their isolation from the main communities.
By mid-century a recognizable style had emerged in the structures built in the Borough. Here, as elsewhere in the eastern United States, the Italianate style had become the preferred architectural choice. The Greek Revival style did not seem to make an impression on Borough residents; as there are no buildings in that style in the Borough except for the old Town Hall (1839) and the New Hope Grammar School (1840). Gothic Revival structures are also not very common. The Methodist Church on South Main Street and a few dwellings on North Main Street are the only examples that survive to the present.
The one variant in these traditional styles is Cintra (c. 1823) on West Bridge Street. It was built by William Maris and it is a V-shaped building with no local or apparently mid-Atlantic precedents. Local tradition has always claimed that its design was based on a palace near Lisbon, Portugal. There is no local proof for this statement.
Among the more prominent Italianate buildings is the Logan Inn on West Ferry Street. The original part of the building was built about 1727; but by the 1850s it had been transformed into a five bay, double pile, three story building with a wooden Italianate cornice. The entire building is stuccoed; but it is not difficult to pick out the earlier sections. Three private dwellings at Bridge and Ferry Streets were also done in the Italianate style. They are frame, three story structures with a typical over hanging and bracketed cornice. They wee built between 1860 and 1876.
In 1876 another map of New Hope was prepared as part of a larger series that was to show Bucks County during the Centennial and which included a business directory. This was a subscription effort on the part of the publishers and no New Hope merchant chose to take an advertisement. However, the map is very detailed and shows a variety of business interests in the Borough. The growth that is shown on this map is exclusively in dwellings and stores. No new factories have been built and no new roads laid out. All the new construction was achieved by the division of existing lots. Most of the new structures were on Bridge Street west of the Canal, along Main Street between Bridge and Ferry Streets and on Main Street south of Ingham Creek. Additional dwellings were also built in the Springdale area to accommodate skilled and unskilled labor that was employed in the mills in that section.
After 1876 growth continued in the Borough by the division of existing lots and by the development of the Main Street area north of Bridge Street. All of this new housing was built as needed and not on speculation. The area north of Bridge Street was almost entirely residential except for the old fire house which was built in 1908.
The 1860s and 1870s saw the introduction of the Second Empire and Queen Ann Styles to New Hope. They actually are both few in number but the styles were used to good effect. The Cook House (1869) at 9 South Main Street is the most prominent Second Empire dwelling and one of the largest dwellings in the Borough. With its sweeping mansard roof and projecting bay it would appear to have been influenced by one of the many architectural plan books in circulation. A somewhat later Second Empire building is the narrow brick building at 36 South Main Street. Its mansard roof is more angular than the Cook House and its projecting bay is more restrained as would be appropriate on a dwelling of its size. Just to the south of 36 South Main Street is an early example of the Queen Ann or "Free Classic" style. It is oriented to the street with its gable end which has a heavy roof cornice and brackets associated with the Italianate style. However, its upper gable end has a small palladian window in a manner often found on Queen Ann buildings.
The only stick style structure in New Hope is the Northeast Pennsylvania Railroad Company Station House. It was built in 1891. Its architect is not known; but it was most likely a stock design used by the rail line and, in fact, is similar to some other stations on the Reading Lines that surround Philadelphia. The Northeast Pennsylvania Railroad was later absorbed by the Reading Company. The structure is now owned by the New Hope Ivyland Railroad, a private corporation.
Since the 1950s New Hope has become a very popular tourist town. This is the result of its geographic location and the presence of the River and Canal; and even more importantly, because of the artists' community that developed around the Borough. As a result, many of the buildings have been converted to shops, restaurants and art galleries. These conversions have not altered the historic integrity of the Borough as a nineteenth century industrial and canal town. Some first floor store fronts have been altered; but, for the most part, property owners have been sensitive to the historic character of their buildings.
As an area that has seen a great deal of activity from prehistoric times to the present, the archaeological potential of the multiple resource area is high. However, no systematic survey has ever been done of those resources. Collecting by local residents would tend to indicate that the Ingham Creek Valley and the land along the Delaware would yield signs of prehistoric Indian use. After the period of first contact, the local Indian population seems to have retreated tot he north and west, away from Bucks County. Historic records yield very few incidents of Indian-White interaction.
The historical record also verifies that there would be significant archaeological information to be gained as to the actions of the American and British Armies during the Revolutionary War. New Hope had a number of redoubts erected for protection and a large portion of the American Army was camped here just prior to the crossing of the Delaware and the attack on Trenton, New Jersey. The Rhoads Homestead Complex would seem to be the best source area for Revolutionary War artifacts since it was the site of the encampment and it is still open land.
Archaeological testing for eighteenth and nineteenth century structures would yield much information about the early mills even though no exact location for most of them has been determined. Similarly the nineteenth century boat yard and dry dock could yield much information about the Canal and the boats used on it.
However, because a proper archaeological survey has not been performed, archaeological resources are not included as part of this multiple resource nomination.
The survey of standing structures was begun in 1977. In that year a small team of local researchers was created to begin a structure-by-structure survey of all buildings within the Borough limits. In 1979, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, through the Bucks County Conservancy, began a systematic survey of the County. This group was able to provide technical assistance to the Borough survey effort. The records, forms and photographs for this survey are stored in the Parry Mansion, which is owned by The New Hope Historical Society; however, the Borough was responsible for the survey. Its survey director was local historian Ann Niessen. She was assisted by a small paid staff.
After the survey was completed, the Historical Society and the Borough were assisted in determining the exact boundaries to be nominated by Susan Zacher of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Additional assistance in the survey evaluation and nomination preparation was secured through the Certified Local Government Program of the NPS and PHMC. This paid for the services of historian Stephen G. Del Sordo to assist Ann Niessen in preparing a final nomination.
The Historic Resources of New Hope Borough consist of two historic districts and four individual properties. Taken together, they constitute a significant collection of structures that relate to the industrial development of this portion of Bucks County and to the important location of New Hope astride two important transportation routes. As such, the resources are eligible under criterion A. Because of the important grouping of architecturally significant structures that were erected from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries (but primarily in the nineteenth century) the nomination is also eligible under criterion C.
Bucks County is the oldest of the three original counties established by William Penn when he took possession of Pennsylvania in 1682. Initial settlement was concentrated immediately around Philadelphia; but by the early eighteenth century, land further away became both desirable and accessible. In 1700 Robert Heeth was granted permission to occupy 1,000 acres of land provided he built a grist mill on his property. The land includes almost all of the present day area of New Hope. Heath built the mill and at his death in 1710, the land was conveyed to his eldest son, Richard. Richard died soon thereafter, and his heirs began to sell portions of his land to other individuals.
Most of these purchasers were farmers but a number were interested in harnessing the power of Ingham Creek. The Creek is a powerful stream that cuts through the center of New Hope and flows into the Delaware River. It was along this Creek that Heath built his mill. The original Heath patent gave the family a monopoly on gristmill operations as well as certain water rights. The next mill placed in operation was a fulling mill erected in 1712 by Philip Williams. In 1740 a saw mill was constructed.
The discovery of iron ore along the Delaware above New Hope in Durham had a dramatic effect on industrial development in New Hope. In 1745 Benjamin Canby built an iron forge. Eight years later in 1753 another forge was erected by Ichabod Wilkinson along with a rolling and slitting mill. By 1770 Henry Dennis owned the Canby Forge and had erected a stamping mill. However, the iron processing industry did not last long within the Borough limits. The Wilkinson Forge was closed shortly after the Revolutionary War ended. The rolling and slitting mill was also allowed to deteriorate. They had been built near the crossing of Ingham Creek with the Canal, and in 1832 their foundations were uncovered as a result of a freshet.
It is not clear as to why there was a decline in the iron industry in New Hope. A map of New Hope done in 1798 does not show a single iron processing related structure within the Borough.
Agriculture and industry were not the only activities in New Hope. The Borough is bisected by the York Road which crosses the Delaware River here. The road was laid out in 1710 and was the major route between Philadelphia and New York until well into the nineteenth century. The Delaware River is very wide and swift at New Hope and river crossing was not easy to ford.
The first recorded person to hold rights to operate a ferry on the Pennsylvania side of the River was John Wells. He received the right to operate the ferry in 1719 as the result of an act of the Pennsylvania Assembly. Another ferry operator was granted permission by George II to maintain a ferry from the New Jersey side at what is now Lambertville directly across the river from New Hope. Emanuel Coryell was granted this license in 1733. He eventually took over Wells Ferry operation and from the last half of the eighteenth century he operated the only ferry at this point. Both settlements on either side of the River were known as Coryell's Ferry. Soon after taking over the ferry Coryell built a tavern. He operated this establishment until 1748 when Job Warford opened a tavern on land Coryell sold him. Coryell then closed his tavern. The ferry remained in operation until 1814 when it was replaced by a bridge across the Delaware.
The ferry was a strategically placed transportation link whose importance was recognized by both the British and American Armies during the Revolutionary War.
In 1769 John Coryell advertised his ferry operation as "Coryell's Ferry, the only Ferry between Newark and Philadelphia noted for its shortness and conveniency over the River Delaware." Some historians assume by this statement there were no other ferries operating at the time. Howell's in Stockton, New Jersey and Mitchell's in Centre Bridge on the Pennsylvania side were in operation, as were ferries in Brownsburg, Taylorsville and Yardley. As ferries were a means of vital transport to the Revolutionary forces, their operation was to be maintained and carefully guarded. An examination of the letters of General Washington and his officers from 1776 through 1778 gives evidence of their constant efforts to secure the boats and guard Coryell's Ferry in particular from the enemy.
When Washington and his army crossed the Delaware from Trenton to Morrisville he ordered "All the boats and other vessels brought over or destroyed for seventy miles above Philadelphia." The English were expected to cross the river at Coryell's Ferry. One of the English generals writing on December 20, 1776 said, "on the 7th Lord Cornwallis' corps march to Princeton. This corps marched in two divisions on the 8th, the first advancing to Trenton, reached the Delaware soon after the enemy's rear guard had crossed. Lord Cornwallis marched next morning to Corriel's (sic) Ferry, thirteen miles higher up the Delaware in some expectation of finding boats there, and in the neighborhood, but in this he was disappointed, the enemy having taken the precaution to destroy or secure on the south side all the boats that could possibly be employed for this purpose."
The disheartening retreat from New York ended in the relative safety of Pennsylvania in early December, 1776. The security of the river ferries, from Yardley's to Coryell's was Washington's immediate concern. Available boats had been thoughtfully removed to the Pennsylvania side of the river.
The security of these crossings was the responsibility of Brigadier General William Alexander, known as Lord Stirling. A detail of men was also posted at Malta Island, just south of Coryell's, in order to guard the Durham boats which were carefully hidden on the Pennsylvania side of the river. Rafting and boating on the Delaware pre-dated the Canals (and the railroad) as the only means of industrial transportation. As noted before, the Durham Iron Works in northern Bucks County had its inception with the discovery of pig iron in the County in 1732; and the boats fashioned to transport the iron down river were referred to as the Durham boats.
Available intelligence reported that Coryell's would probably be the place for an attempted crossing by the British, and these redoubts received the utmost attention. The garrison at Coryell's was commanded by a Frenchman, Brigadier General Roche de Fermoy. His brigade included the First Pennsylvania Regiment under Colonel Hand and the Pennsylvania German Regiment just newly formed under Colonel Nicholas Hausseger.
After their arrival on December 8, 1776 the garrison lost no time in building a redoubt at the corner of Bridge and Ferry Streets and a series of earthworks which ran along the ridge of the hill behind where the Parry Mansion now stands. Stockades guarded the ferry crossing itself. During the evening of December 9th, Lord Cornwallis led a party along the New Jersey side of the river in search of boats. Unsuccessful in their search, they were spotted by de Fermoy's sentries. Shots were exchanged across the river without reported injuries. Local legend states that when structures on West Mechanic Street were torn down to make room for the new bridge on South Main Street which crossed Ingham Creek, workmen found shot imbedded on the walls and roof of one house left standing at 4 West Mechanic Street.
Washington reported the incident in a letter to Congress on the 11th; and on the 12th, reported intelligence positioned Cornwallis and 6,000 men in Penny Town (Pennington, New Jersey) waiting for means to make a crossing at Coryell's. This threat caused Washington to move his headquarters on the 13th from the Barclay House at Morrisville to the Keith House in Upper Makefield. The latter was totally destroyed by fire in February, 1981. While quartered at William Keiths (near Brownsburg) Washington maintained caution. He made a crossing with Cornelius Coryell, climbed Goat Hill just south of the ferry crossing to determine from that vantage point that the boats hidden behind Melts Island could not be seen.
de Fermoy's men bivouacked on the Rhoads Homestead complex. Generals Knox, Alexander, Sullivan, and Greene stayed in the stone house nearest the York Road, while the men camped on the grounds. Washington stayed in the stone house near the northern boundary of the Homestead. Rhoads family legend states on one occasion (during which year is not recorded) Martha accompanied George and stayed with him, enjoying the hospitality of the family.
Washington commanded his men the night of December 25th through the memorable crossing which marked the turning point in the War. Victory at Trenton was followed by victory at Princeton. The victorious army retreated to the protection of the hills around Morristown, New Jersey to rest and prepare for the next campaign.
In late June, 1777, Howe moved his men to Staten Island and began loading them on to transports. On July 23rd some 18,000 British sailed toward Philadelphia. Washington received the news of troop movement at his encampment in Smith's Clove, New York on the following day. He dispatched Stephens and Lincoln to wait at Howell's Ferry (Stockton, New Jersey); and sent Alexander to Trenton. Washington and the rest of the men headed for Coryell's until Howe's intentions became clear. Washington had spread his men among three locations to that a fast crossing could be made. Washington marched through Pompton, Morristown and Reading, reaching Coryell's n the New Jersey side on July 28th.
On July 30th Washington wrote, "If the Delaware is their object we are now within two days march of Philadelphia and can be in time, I trust to make every necessary disposition for opposing them. On the other hand, if General Howe by this expedition to see only means a deep faint and should turn his attention again to the North River, we can from hence reinforce General Putnam's army more expeditiously then if we were further advanced."
Throughout 1777 letters of Washington and his officers indicate constant vigilance to keep the river craft from falling into enemy hands; but it would be almost a year before he would return to Coryell's Ferry.
Previous to the Battle of Monmouth, Washington wrote to General Lee on June 18, 1778, "You are to halt on the first high ground after passing Coryell's Ferry ...If my memory does not deceive me there is an advantageous spot of ground to the right of the road leading up from the water." Lee left Valley Forge in advance of Washington, proceeded along the York Road and crossed the River at Coryell's. Both Generals Lee and Wayne crossed at Coryell's with their divisions on June 20th; and after marching 3 miles, camped that night at "Amwell, in Hunterdon County, New Jersey." Washington left Valley Forge for the "Jerseys" on June 19th; and in a letter to his brother Augustine he said, "On the 21st we completed our passage over the Delaware at Coryel's (sic) Ferry." General Greene's memoirs tell us that he was busy "marking out the route and order of march and places of encampment, a duty which kept him more than half the time in the saddle." He continues, "On the 21st they crossed the Delaware, happy omen, at Coryell's Ferry."
On the following day Washington wrote that he was "Now in Jersey and that the troops are passing the river at Coryel's (sic); and are mostly over." By the 23rd the army had moved its main cap to Hopewell; and on the 24th Clinton was stalled at Crosswicks, waiting for a bridge to be rebuilt. Washington concluded that Clinton was headed for Sandy Hook where he could be transported by boat to New York. The decision was made to draw Clinton into battle at Monmouth Court House.
No battles were fought at Coryell's Ferry, either in Pennsylvania or in New Jersey. No battles were fought in Bucks County for that matter. However, both Coryell's Ferry in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey are linked with three of the most crucial battles of the Revolutionary War: Trenton, Brandywine and Monmouth.
The end of the War brought expanded opportunity for both settlement and business expansion. With the iron industry disappearing around New Hope, new industries moved in to utilize the water power of Ingham Creek.
The most influential individual to arrive in the 1780s was Benjamin Parry. He came to New Hope from what was then Philadelphia County. His first purchase was the Todd Grist Mill. This mill is located at the Delaware River astride the mouth of the Ingham Creek. The foundations of this mill (c. 1767) are part of the Bucks County Playhouse which, in turn, is built on a portion of the Parry Mill renovations and enlargements. Parry built his stone dwelling house known as the Parry Mansion in 1784.
The American branch of the Parry family is directly descended from the Parrys of Caernarvonshire, Wales. One of the many Thomas Parrys was Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I of England. There are Parrys today on both sides of the Atlantic—all descended from this line. The American branch of the Parrys settled in what is now known as Montgomery County, Pennsylvania on a 1000 acre parcel named the Manor of Moorland. This parcel is in the vicinity of Horsham; and the family attended the Horsham Friends Meeting.
Benjamin was born on his grandfather's estate; and as a boy spent summers working in Dr. Joseph Todd's grist mill at Coryell's Ferry. An owner in absentia, Dr. Todd was a neighboring landholder in Horsham; and one could safely assume that Benjamin and his six brothers spent their summers in honest labor. The family's business was lumbering. Founded by grandfather, Thomas, the assets grew to include vast timberlands in northeastern Pennsylvania, sawmills along the Delaware River and lumber yards in Philadelphia. Even though they were raised in an atmosphere which was quite affluent for the time, Benjamin and his brothers held to a strict Quaker work ethic, insuring the comfortable survival of the line. Three years after Benjamin built his dwelling house, he selected as his bride Jane Paxson, daughter of a wealthy neighboring Quaker family.
By the turn of the nineteenth century Benjamin and his younger brothers, David and Daniel, had purchased numerous parcels throughout New Hope and had erected both dwelling and storehouse on them. Of the half dozen or so Parry-built structures which remain, three are clapboard: 94 South Main, 15 West Ferry and 49 West Ferry Streets. The latter remained in Parry hands until 1860, twenty-one years after Benjamin's death.
During his lifetime Benjamin contributed as much, if not more, to the village as he did to his family. Grain from Parry's mill operation found a market throughout the east coast of the United States, the West Indies and ports in South America. In 1810 he received a patent for a process in which grain was dried prior to shipment, insuring a mildew resistant product. In another burst of business acumen, Benjamin Parry saw the practicality of complimenting New Hope's ferry operation with a bridge. By selling stock in the newly formed Delaware Bridge Company and subsequently founding a bank, he realized this particular goal in 1814, when the first carriage paid to cross the covered bridge. He was one of many supporters of an inland means of water transport. One of William Penn's dreams for his Commonwealth was to construct a system of canals which linked products to markets. The concept of inland waterways is not unique to Penn. Canals had been used for transport in Europe and the British Isles for hundreds of years. It took 147 years to realize the concept of a canal in Bucks County. And it took five years of nineteenth century engineering know-how to complete the sixty mile length of the Delaware Division Canal. It was operational by 1832, linking Bucks and Northampton Counties to the Lehigh Canal to the north, to the Delaware and Raritan Canal to the east and to the port of Philadelphia to the south. Benjamin Parry personally paid for the one mile segment of the Canal which ran through New Hope.
It was Parry who gave the village of New Hope its name. Until the end of the 1790s, the village was known as Coryell's Ferry. By 1790 Parry's grist mill operation actually consisted of three mills: one in Hopewell, New Jersey (called the Hope Mills), one in Titusville, New Jersey (called the Prime Hope Mills) and the one in Coryell's Ferry. In 1791 his Coryell's Ferry grist and oil mill were burned. Parry rebuilt his mill and as a reference to the fire and the disaster of the loss of his mills, he titled the new mills "New Hope Mills," and also gave this name to the settlement along the river. In 1798 he commissioned a map of the village showing his holdings. The map does not show the Van Sant properties to the south.
New Hope remained fairly stable until the second decade of the nineteenth century. Joining Parry in his bridge-building effort in 1811 was Samuel Ingham of Solebury Township, the Secretary of the Treasury under Andrew Jackson. Legislation was approved by both Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 1812 to authorize construction, which began in 1813. Completed in 1814 the original bridge was lost in a flood in 1903 and the present bridge was built in 1904.
Construction of the bridge crested several changes in the village. Bridge Street was constructed at an angle to the York Road and Ferry Street and laid out straight to the bridge. All of the structures on Bridge Street post date 1812. The charter for the bridge company also authorized the creation of a bank, which opened with branches in both New Hope and Lambertville. This was the first bank in either town. It, along with the bridge, failed financially in 1826. Control was then vested in a Philadelphia businessman until 1887, when a group of local citizens bought it back.
The construction of the bridge simplified land transport between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The ferry was forced out of business and with it any delay in travel was removed. Traffic soon increased along its path and with it, an increase in mercantile activity in the Borough and a revival of interest in New Hope as a site of industrial activity.
William Maris moved to New Hope from Philadelphia to take advantage of the water power and transportation network available in the village. He arrived about 1812 and purchased land in the Springdale section of the Borough. He commenced on a building program that included expansion of the Springdale Mansion and most importantly, the construction of a cotton mill. The mill design was similar to that met in most of the textile mills at the time. He apparently employed immigrant workers, who lived in housing constructed east of the mill along Mechanic Street. Coming from the British Isles, these immigrants called their new home "Manchester Valley." Maris' cotton mill was later converted to a silk mill—an unsuccessful venture when it was found the silkworms could not stand the cold winter climate of New Hope. Maris also built the Lepanto Flax Mills at the same time. His interests were not totally on industrial operations, however. He is somewhat of a mystery man in the town as not much more is known about him except that he arranged for the construction of numerous buildings within the Borough including workers housing, shops, stores, large private dwellings, of which Cintra is the most significant, and the Delaware House, the large hotel at Bridge and Main Streets. Maris' speculative light faded in 1837 when, overextended with mortgage on top of mortgage, he gave most of his holdings to his children; and those assets he could not disperse were taken over by the bank which had extended him the credit in the first place. The general nationwide depression of that year did not help matters any either. According to local lore he returned to Philadelphia and died there about 1845.
The National Historic Landmark Delaware Division Canal had as much impact on the Borough as did the industrial growth. Agitation and planning for the Canal had begun in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Merchants and settlers both realized that the river was not a reliable source of transportation and that it was basically only a means of one-way transport. It was not until the early 1820s that the Pennsylvania Legislature authorized the chartering of a canal company and construction was allowed to commence. The canal was to begin at Easton and proceed down the banks of the Delaware River until it reached Bristol, above Philadelphia. The Canal was actually a part of a massive statewide effort to improve transportation through a system of inland waterways.
Construction of the Delaware Division Canal actually began in 1827. The first boats went through in 1832, but the Canal was not totally finished until 1834. During the first few years, the Canal operation was hindered by faulty construction and poor engineering. Four of the Canal's locks are located within the Borough limits. There was also a special lock and boat ferry at New Hope that allowed the transfer of canal boats to the New Jersey side of the River where they could be placed in the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which provided an outlet to New York.
Most of the canal boats carried coal from the Lehigh Valley. Other important cargoes were lumber and grain. Because of the locks, travel time through the Borough was slow and there was often a backlog of boats waiting to pass through. Consequently the Canal provided a large captive audience for mercantile interests in New Hope. A number of businesses were established near the lock which catered to the canal men and their families.
While New Hope was an active, prosperous town, it was soon to be overshadowed by Lambertville on the New Jersey side of the River. That town was also a canal town, in that it was connected with the New Jersey canal system that was oriented towards New York City. Lambertville also had sufficient water power for a number of mills. However, the one factor in its favor and which caused it to grow much larger than New Hope was the railroad which connected that town with Camden and Philadelphia, as well as with New York City. While there is not direct evidence of it, the possibility most certainly exists that a large percentage of New Hope's industrial output was sent across the River and then on to market by rail line. In 1837 the New Hope village was incorporated into a separate municipality. This was in recognition of its growth and importance as a canal town and industrial seat.
A railroad did not actually come to New Hope until 1891. In that year the Northeast Pennsylvania Railroad built a line that connected New Hope with the Philadelphia and Reading line in Hatboro, Montgomery County. The Northeast Pennsylvania Railroad was mostly owned by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. Attempts had been made to build a rail line to New Hope much earlier, but none of the efforts had been successful. The first was made in 1836 when the New Hope, Doylestown and Norristown Railroad was incorporated. Among its first subscribers were the most prominent residents of New Hope; such as Lewis S. Coryell, Elias Ely, Daniel Parry, Moses Eastburn, Samuel Sutton and Samuel D. Ingham. William Maris' name is absent from the list. The line was not built. A letter written by Martin S. Coryell that same year to Moses Kelly gives a hint as to the reasons why the line would not succeed. In the letter he doubts that there would be enough business to support a line and suggests that a line to Lambertville and on to New York City or to Morrisville and Trenton would have the most chance of success.
Another attempt was made during the 1880s. An engineer was hired to seek out the best route for a rail line between New Hope and Philadelphia. He proposed a choice of four different routes. Then the line was finally built in 1891, none of those routes was used.
In 1903 another form of transportation made its mark on New Hope. In that year, a trolley line was begun. It was to be called the Trenton, New Hope and Lambertville Street Railway and was a division of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Traction Company. As the name implies, the line ended in New Hope and connected that town with Trenton by going down the New Jersey side of the Delaware River before coming across the River at Morrisville, where passengers could connect with trolley lines into Philadelphia. Bucks County actually had a very active system of traction lines during this time period, but none of them came to New Hope. The New Hope trolley only lasted a few years and was closed in the early 1920s.
By the end of the nineteenth century most of the mills were closing. The only ones to survive well into the twentieth century were the Union Mills which actually moved to new facilities in 1906 within the Borough and close to both the railroad and the trolley line. The former Union Mill complex remained in operation until 1972 as a plant for the Union Camp Corporation, manufacturers of multi-wall bags, which still operates the plant they built on Bridge Street. With the closing of the mills, a new industry came to the New Hope area.
The "New Hope Artists' Colony," an informal and loosely knit group of creative men and women, are responsible for much of what present-day tourists know about this Bucks County community. Located on the Delaware River, in a transportation "corridor" which presently affords a 1 1/2 hour trip to New York City or a 3 hour trip to Washington, D.C., a second and sometimes permanent home in New Hope was the logical choice for those late nineteenth and early twentieth century artists who needed the urban exposure the cities offered, but desired the quietude so necessary to the creative process.
The township surrounding New Hope Borough became that haven. In fact, Solebury Township and Phillips Mill in particular (the latter located 1 1/2 miles north of New Hope on River Road) was the real seat of the "New Hope Artists' Colony." Painter William I. Lathrop settled in at the Mill and turned out landscapes and scenes of rural life, while artist Edward W. Redfield lived 1 1/2 miles further north on the River in the village of Centre Bridge. Redfield died in 1965 at the age of 95, leaving dozens of street scenes and landscapes as his legacy. Daniel Garber lived and painted in Lumberville; and artist Emasita Register Corson spent the bulk of her creative life in the "New Hope Artists' Colony" at the turn of the twentieth century.
Well into this century artists like Lloyd Ney, Albert Rosenthal and Cort Butterfield lived and created in New Hope Borough; as did primitive artist, Joseph Pickett. Descended from a family of canal boatmen, Pickett never considered himself a serious artist, but painted for his own pleasure and the pleasure of his family and friends. He operated a provisions store along the Canal; and to pass the time, painted on whatever suited his fancy, from boards to buildings! Sculptors Harry Rosin, Robert Montgomery and stained glass artist Valentine D'Ogries also found New Hope's creative atmosphere to their liking in the mid-twentieth century.
Glancing at a present-day membership roster of the "Colony," one would find listed artists Sally Nimick, Floyd James Torbert and Tony Autorino; as well as sculptors Selma Burke, Raymond Granville Berger and Robert Rosenwald. The pace of life has quickened a bit; but the attraction of New Hope's landscape has not worn thin.
The built environment of New Hope is composed of a variety of different forms that generally reflect the architectural traditions of the Mid-Atlantic region and range from vernacular interpretations of current styles to very academic and unusual styles.
Most of the housing stock is indicative of the town's history as a rural industrial community and as a canal town. The structures built to serve these two communities are influenced by the need to provide livable space at an economical price. For instance, such buildings as the c. 1795 Stone Row and the c. 1830 East Mechanic Street dwellings are virtually identical except that one set is stone and one set is frame. They reflect no attempt to define an architectural style. In a similar fashion the canal company buildings were constructed with the same thought. They were to serve a function. Many of the rental dwellings erected by merchants were also built in the vernacular.
There was only one of the major buildings that attention to detail was a concern. The Parry Mansion, c. 1784 was perhaps the first true Federal style building in the Borough. When William Maris arrived, the nature of building in the Borough improved substantially. That portion of his mansion at Springdale was also in the Federal style, but its decorative elements are more elaborate than the Parry Mansion. When he built Cintra about 1824, he created the most unique architectural statement in the Borough. Its "V" shaped plan and unusual exterior finish have not been duplicated in the Borough or within the larger region.
Maris seems to have been a trained architect and an active builder. His mills Union, Lepanto and Springdale incorporate the latest design elements in their construction. The Delaware House in the village on Bridge Street is one of the tallest structures there and has a roof line that while a strict gambrel roof, does have lines that are similar to a mansard roof. It was most likely Maris' influence that encouraged the more wealthy families in New Hope to create structures that were as academic as possible. Much of the architecture in the surrounding townships or in small towns up and down the River is not as bookish as some of the examples in New Hope.
The 1850s renovation to the Pike-Paxson House (part of the Rhoads Homestead Complex) and the 1856 renovation of Springdale serve to highlight this trend. Charles Huffnagle employed the famous Philadelphia architect, Samuel Sloan, to design the nineteenth century additions to Springdale. What Sloan provided was an early Bucks County use of a cross wing and projecting bay. While the features were being shown in the architectural press, they were not often found in the countryside until sometime in the 1870s. Similarly, the Pike-Paxson House was enlarged with a cross wing and projecting bay. The design here was heavily influenced by Andrew Jackson Downing. The name of the builder or architect is not recorded, but he was most likely a well-rained and knowledgeable individual.
Within the main village, some examples of current design wee also constructed. The 1839 municipal building has exposed rafter ends instead of a box cornice and it has a version of a palladian window in its east gable end. The palladian window was also used to good effect in the c. 1849 Cryer Store and in the Johnson Store. Both of these buildings are gable end front structures with the Cryer Store being an early example of its use in New Hope.
The Second Empire style is represented by a few examples in the Borough, but most academic and elaborate is the Cook House built about 1869. The others are more forced in that their roof design is more angular.
The Queen Anne style was employed to great effect in the Borough. The circa 1880 dwelling, 42 North Main Street, is a well designed version and it presents its cross wing and projecting bay to the street. Further west at Bridge and Ferry Streets, 80 West Bridge Street is a circa 1870 frame dwelling that is another version of the Queen Anne style. It is somewhat lighter in design than the North Main Street house but it has a cross wing. The projecting bay is only on the first floor rather than being carried the full height of the wing.
The stick style is represented by the Northeast Pennsylvania Railroad Company Station. This building would have been designed by a company architect and constructed by a local contractor. The lines and proportions of the building are unique to New Hope, but they are similar to other stations along Reading Railroad controlled lines in Southeast Pennsylvania.
The architecture within the Borough, then, is a mix of vernacular and academic styles on the extremes; while there is a wide range of variant structures in the middle range. This mix is somewhat typical of many nineteenth century communities. However, what makes New Hope's architecture significant is that most of the structures in the Borough have maintained a high degree of integrity. This has come about basically as a result of the economic decline that New Hope went through after the mills began to close in the late nineteenth century. By the twentieth century the only industrial complex in the Borough was the Union Camp plants on South Main and on Bridge Streets.
In 1876 there were 210 structures within the bounds of New Hope Borough. At present (1984) 181 of them remain and are still owner occupied.
Historical preservation activities appeared formally in New Hope Borough with the founding of the New Hope Historical Society in 1958. Formed to revitalize the very center of the village, the Society was, and is still successful in its varied restoration projects.
The Society acquired part of the New Hope Parry Family holdings, the barn and main house, and has restored them as an art gallery and museum respectively. The Society's attempts to purchase additional structures surrounding the Parry Mill Complex (now the Bucks County Playhouse) failed in the 1970s. However, another project started by the Society in that same time frame found form in 1977, and has resulted in subject multiple resource nomination.
In addition, in 1974 New Hope Borough adopted Ordinance No. 183 under P.L. No. 167—the enabling legislation which provides a municipality with the means to protect "those historical areas within our great Commonwealth, which have a distinctive character recalling the rich architectural and historical heritage of Pennsylvania ..." That Ordinance established boundaries which have been expanded to include part of this nomination's River and Springdale Districts. That Ordinance also established a Board of Historical Architectural Review which advises the Borough's Zoning Board of Appeals in use, rehabilitation and/or construction matters involving all structures within those Districts.
‡ Ann Niessen and Stephen G. Del Sordo, Historical/Architectural consultants, Historic Resources of New Hope Borough, 1984, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Nearby Towns: Delaware Twp • Lambertville City • Solebury Twp • Stockton Boro • Upper Makefield Twp • West Amwell Twp •