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Dover Town


Dover Town Hall is located at 37 North Sussex Street, Dover, NJ 07801; phone: 973-366-2200.

Beginnings [1]

There is no clear history of the acquisition of the name Dover for the town, but in 1753 Moses Hurd bought the original forge from John Jackson. Moses Hurd was said to have come from Dover, New Hampshire suggesting his influence in naming the area. Oldest written documents indicate use of the name Dover date back to the 1790's. Older documents refer to the area as Old Tye, which perhaps was a reference to Ticonderoga, New York.

The forging of iron became an important industry in Dover and by 1800 Dover was clearly established as an industrial town, its success tied to the iron mines of the area and the production of iron goods. The Town eventually became incorporated as a Village in 1826 and a Town in 1869 and with it a street network, hotels, theaters and various other establishments that entertained and served residents and visitors alike. It was during the time the Morris Canal was being dug that Dover was incorporated and the streets were laid out and named. The main street was named after one of the new (1817) forge owners from New York City, Mr. Joseph Blackwell. The canal was completed and in use by 1831 but was soon outclassed as a transportation mode when the Morris and Essex Railroad was completed in 1848. Eventually, Dover developed into a major commercial and industrial center with the completion of the Morris Canal and later the Lackawanna Railroad.

With many diverse people and businesses, the community thrives as a true melting pot and is representative of all that is good about America. A rich history where Lenni Lenape Indians once made their home due to the brooks and streams that meander through town and where topography like Clinton Mountain created vantage points for lookouts and now interesting vistas. Where in 1722 immigrants like John Jackson utilized these same waterways to produce the power needed to forge the iron that came from mines located nearby and through this effort produced the weaponry needed during the Revolutionary War and Korean War.

The first newspaper was printed in 1869 and was called "The Dover Enterprise," it was a monthly publication. Doctor Crittendon was the first physician to locate in Dover; the year was 1813. The first post office in Dover was opened in 1820. The railroad came to Dover in 1848, electric lights in 1889, and gas in 1902. A library was established in 1902 and the first trolley went through town in July 1904. By 1903 Dover had its own water supply plant and in 1906 the Baker Theater, one of the finest playhouses in the State, was opened. The public schools had a high school program by 1885 and designated high school building in 1901. A new Dover Shopping Center with double decked parking lot and drive-in theater was opened in 1956.

Dover was the "go-to" destination of Morris County for many years. With its quaint downtown, retail shopping establishments, restaurants, services and entertainment venues Dover was one the gems of Northern New Jersey. It was not merely a destination for goods and services but also for jobs and remained as such for many years, that is, until development patterns shifted because of the increasing popularity of the automobile.

The advent of the automobile eventually led to creations such as exurbia development, the mall and other forms of suburban sprawl. These new patterns of development, combined with many policy changes in the United States, spelled doom for Dover as it began to decline in the latter stages of the 20th century as many truly genuine downtowns in New Jersey and the country had. Vacancies soon replaced vitality thus resulting in plummeting property values and further migration out of Dover and into its suburbs. This decline eventually gave way to opportunities that many would never have foreseen. A new wave of American immigrant had come to make Dover home, the Hispanico.

  1. Town of Dover, Morris County, NJ, Master Plan, 2007, www.dover.nj.us, accessed August, 2013.
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