History. At times the word calls to mind old, dusty items that have been cast aside. Yet, it also stirs the soul because it is very simply the story of our lives. We have a rich heritage here in Stanhope, including our very own Whistling Swan Inn. So, step back in time with us as we take a tour of 5 historic sites in Stanhope, NJ worth visiting.
Stanhope NJ’s Early Years
From a small, rural forge town, Stanhope, which is located in Sussex County, evolved into a thriving iron manufacturing community in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Morris Canal flows right through the center of town and helped make Stanhope a major outlet for goods heading upward into Sussex County. The Canal linked the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. With nearby water sources and land rich with minerals and limestone, the town was heavily involved with iron manufacturing for over 140 years.
As the years went on, other businesses began to flourish. Although the buildings were generally owned by the iron companies, a tannery, gristmills, a sawmill and plaster mill along with a blacksmith shop began popping up. As businesses flourished, tenant housing began filling the streets. From the initial two-family dwellings, they soon grew into multi-family homes in the late 1800s.
Historic Sites in Stanhope, NJ
There are several local sites that give you just a glimpse of our rich, local history, from mansions and restaurants to Waterloo Village and Whistling Swan Inn.
#1 – Stanhope House
The Stanhope House, although currently a thriving restaurant with two musical stages, was formerly a private home, stagecoach stop with a post office and general store, tavern, and a rooming house. (There are some who believe it was a brothel.) In the 1970s, this site became a favorite stomping ground for blues music legends. If walls could talk, they’d have so many stories to tell!
#2 – Bell’s Mansion
Another local restaurant, Bell’s Mansion is family owned and operated today. It was originally owned by Robert P. Bell who eventually sold it to the Salmon brothers. They owned the Salmon Brothers Construction Company which built the first concrete highway in the area. Guests can enjoy dinner in the restaurant or on the outdoor patio.
#3 – Rutherfurd Hall
Just a short drive out of town is a sprawling 18,000 square foot Tudor style home built by Winthrop Rutherfurd. Rutherfurd Hall was a summer home for him and his wife, Alice. Currently, Rutherfurd Hall is a cultural center and museum preserving the history, architecture, and culture.
#4 – Waterloo Village
Waterloo Village, also a short drive from Stanhope, was roughly the center point of the Morris Canal that ran from Jersey City to Philadelphia. This restored historic village has several mills, a blacksmith shop, general store, and several historic homes. This rich historic site has events year round. You can take walking tours and even schedule events there.
#5 – Whistling Swan Inn
Our personal favorite of the 5 historic sites in Stanhope, NJ worth visiting is our very own Whistling Swan Inn where modern luxury meets Victorian elegance. Judge Daniel L. Best, Stanhope’s justice of the peace loved his wife Sarah dearly and wanted to give her the ultimate gift. This loving couple and their six children called this beautiful house their home for only a few years before Judge Best died. The home was obtained by his son-in-law William H. Sedgeman. With his wife Viola, Sedgeman cared for the widowed Sarah until she died in 1915.
After being abandoned for several years, the first innkeepers purchased the home in 1986. Over the years it has been restored and lovingly preserved. Today, we (Tom and Rosalind Bruno) continue to tenderly care for this little piece of New Jersey history. Whether you’re enjoying a stroll in our Victorian garden or reading the morning paper on the veranda, we hope your stay in our historic home away from home will provide rest and relaxation. Check availability for your next getaway.