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Griggstown Historic District

Franklin Twp, Somerset County, NJ


Holloway Street Historic District

House by the Delaware and Raritan Canal, located on Canal Road, The Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 Photo by wikipedia username:Camp Harrigan, 2008, creative commons [cc 3.0], accessed November, 2021.


The rural Griggstown [1] community developed along the Millstone River and Delaware and Raritan Canal. Washington's army traveled through Griggstown after the Battle of Princeton in 1777. It was the home of John Honeyman, who was reputed to be an American spy for General Washington responsible for gathering intelligence crucial to Washington's victory at the Battle of Trenton. The First Reformed Dutch Church built in the Greek Revival Style (1842), the Griggstown Schoolhouse built in the Gothic Revival style (1832) and the Veghte House, built in the Italianate Style (1888), are outstanding structures in the district. [1]

A number of significant structures are associated with the D & R Canal, including the Long House (Mule Tenders' Barracks), the stone bridge tender's house and a small frame bridge tender's station. In 1873, the bridge tender station housed a wireless telegraph used to notify the tender of approaching ships. It was believed to have been the first commercial use of the telegraph in America. Towards the south end of the district is the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries made brick and decorative terra cotta tile. The terra cotta for the Woolworth building in New York City was produced at this plant.

National Register Historic District [2]

The Griggstown Historic District is a five mile long strip of land contiguous to and east of the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Franklin Township, Somerset County. Almost all of the sixty-eight principle structures in the district are located on Canal Road, which parallels the canal. There is a strong rural character to the district since the houses are generously spaced and most of the older structures are still surrounded by nineteenth century barns, silos, and outbuildings. Furthermore, several active farms remain in the district and on its immediate borders. With the exception of these agricultural buildings, a church, an old schoolhouse, the Canal bridgetender's station, and an abandoned brick and tile factory, all of the structures in the district are homes.

Almost all of the houses are single family, two stories tall, and contain about 1500 square feet. Most of the buildings in Griggstown are wood frame, originally clad in clapboard. Many of these houses have been modernized with asbestos shingles or aluminum siding. There are four load bearing mason:ry structures; two brick buildings (the Barracks and the Terra Cotta Factory) and two stone houses (the Griggs House and the Canal House). The buildings are divided into three major architectural periods representing the major settlement periods of the Griggstown community: 18th century, early 19th century, and mid 20th century. Most of the early 19th century buildings are two and two and one-half stories; the later 20th century buildings are one and two stories.

The earliest house in the district is the Veghte house on Canal Road, which dates from the first quarter of the 18th century. It still retains the original 18th century one and one-half story section with low ceilings and large kitchen fireplace, to which has been added a large two story, three bay section with double end wall chimneys and a Federal entrance. Across Canal Road and a little to the south is another Veghte house. This structure also has a circa 1780 one and one- half story portion with a later three bay Federal addition.

Griggstown experienced a great expansion during the first half of the 19th century, and twenty-three of the sixty-eight buildings in the district today were built between 1800-1850. The earliest of these is the central section of the Jacob Van Doren house (built 1809), which has a Federal style entrance. Although several additions have been made to this house the original part is intact.

The construction of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, completed in 1834, provided an important impetus to the building activity in Griggstown during this period. Much of the land in the Griggstown area was developed for farmland during the years after the opening of the canal, in all probability spurred by the prospect of using the canal as a way of trans¡© porting farm products to urban markets. Furthermore, the canal directly caused three new houses to be built. Two canal houses were built at the Griggstown lock which is 3/4 of a mile south of the causeway and a home for the bridgetender was built at the causeway itself.

There was also a bridgetender's station, a little building with about six feet by eight feet of floor area. In1873 the station was a weaver's shop and later it housed a wireless telegraph station, used to notify the tender of approaching ships. This is believed to have been the first commercial use of the telegraph in America. With the close of the Canal in 1932, the building became a county library — surely the tiniest in the country! — and it served this function until 1970.

  1. Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, Historic Sites & Districts in Somerset County, NJ, 2015, www.co.somerset.nj.us, accessed November, 2021.
  2. >David Gibson, Steven Bauer, and James C. Amon, Delaware & Raritan Canal, Griggstown Historic District, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C., accessed November, 2021.
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Street Names
Canal Road


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