Bear Tavern Road—Jacobs Creek Crossing Rural Historic District
is significant in the areas of settlement, agriculture, architecture,
military, transportation and engineering. The district includes
9 buildings, four structures, 2 sites. The period of significance
begins in 1739, the earliest year that Bear Tavern Road, an
important colonial thoroughfare known as the “river road,” can
be documented and ending in 1930 when paving improvements began.
In this district, the rural landscape reflects the region’s
18th/19th century pattern of development exhibited by such features
as property lines, farmstead locations, field patterns and circulation.
The landscape remains intact, showing evidence of the agricultural
communities of scattered farmsteads once prevalent throughout
much of New Jersey. In what became Hopewell Township, and elsewhere
in the region, farms acquired from the proprietary owners by
the pioneer settles often continued in the same family for several
generations. Such was the case in the neighborhood along Bear
Tavern Road north of Jacobs Creek, where the Tavern Road itself,
once of the region’s earliest and most important roads, give
the district transportation significance as a good example of
a cultural route, a historic road type shaped by necessity or
tradition. The route is clearly designed to follow the terrain’s
path of least resistance. Used for nearly 300 years, the road
also retains evidence of transportation improvements over time,
particularly at the creek crossing where successive bridges
replaced the colonial ford.
The district’s architectural significance derives from its
late 18th and early 19th century dwellings whose construction
materials, plan types and detailing are representative of the
region’s early domestic architecture, who has its roots in the
region’s traditional building practices. Although no historic
barns remain, several outbuildings such as wagon houses and
a smokehouse remain to reflect ancillary building once typical
of area farmsteads.
The district possesses military significance for its Revolutionary
War associations. Bear Tavern Road (the colonial river road)
was the route of Washington’s troops on the their march to Trenton
on December 26, 1776, and crossing Jacobs Creek presented a
formidable challenge to the troops, second only to crossing
the Delaware River. Due to urban and suburban development, beside
s Washington Crossing State Park, Bear Tavern Board/Jacobs Creek
Crossing District is the only sizable area along the route with
the ability to evoke something of its appearance at the time
of the Revolutionary War.
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full file on the Bear Tavern Road--Jacobs Creek Crossing Rural
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