Burlington was founded in 1677 on land purchased from the Lenape Indians on the bank of the Delaware River. Most of the original settlers were Quakers whose ethos included the then revolutionary concept that all races, sexes, nationalities, and religions should have equal rights. Burlington was the capital of West Jersey until 1702 when East and West Jersey were combined into a single British colony with its capital at Perth Amboy. In 1796 Burlington lost out again when the county seat of Burlington County moved to Mount Holly Township in response to population growth in the east of the county. In the run up to the Civil War, the Quaker ethos came to the fore with Burlington a stop on the Underground Railroad that helped slaves from the south to escape to freedom. Nowadays the city has retained much of its colonial heart with over 40 historic sites.
Houses in Pearl St from Wood Street
Pearl Street provides and excellent introduction to Burlington. Located just one street back from the riverfront, it is full of old houses.
Burlington Meeting House, High Street
Quakers arrived from England in 1677 aboard the ship Kent which sailed up the Delaware River to land them at Burlington. Their early worship meetings were held under canvas sails retained from the Kent, but as homes were built they were used as places for worship. Construction of a hexagonal wooden Meeting House began in 1683 but was not completed until 1687. It served the Quaker community for 100 years, byy which time it had become too small. The current brick built Meeting House was constructed in front of the old one in the mid 1780s. Nowadays Burlington Meeting House is used for events such as Conferences, School Events, Weddings and Reunions. When it was renovated for this purpose, significant parts of the original meeting room were preserved.
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Old St Mary's Church, Broad Street
St Mary’s Church was founded by Rev. George Keith and Rev. John Talbot in 1703 making it the oldest Episcopal Church (Church of England prior to the Revolution) building of the State. During the Revolutionary War St Mary’s was the headquarters of American Loyalists. Reverend Jonathan O’Dell of St. Mary’s preached from the pulpit that King George III was the rightful ruler of the American Colonies. He had to flee to New York and later settled in Canada. By the mid 19th century the original church had become too small, so in 1854 a new church in the Gothic Revival style was built on an adjacent plot. The old church is still used for Sunday school and special meetings. Click Tab 2 to see new St Mary's Church.
Thomas Revell House, 213 Wood Street
This is probably the oldest building in the whole of Burlington County. It was built by wealthy Quaker distiller George Hutchinson at 8 East Pearl Street in 1685, just 21 years after England wrested control of the area from the Dutch. From 1696 to 1699 it was the office of Thomas Revell, registrar of the Proprietors of West New Jersey and clerk of the assembly. Benjamin Franklin’s journal says that once while travelling to Philadelphia he was bought gingerbread from a woman in Burlington and she invited him to have supper and to lodge for the night in her house. Tradition says that this is the house where he stayed. The building was moved to 213 Wood Street in 1966. The house is now used as the headquarters of the Annis Stockton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and is not open to the public.
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Gummere House, 222 Wood Street
This house was built by Quaker brothers John Gummere and Samuel R. Gummere, together with John’s son, Samuel J. Gummere. Samuel R. Gummere was an educator and in 1826 he founded the Gummere Girls' School in Burlington. With Dr. John Griscom of Burlington, the Gummere brothers played an important part in the founding of Pennsylvania’s Haverford College in 1833.