Looking Back Column

                                         EARLY HOUSES ON THE TURNPIKE

For over 100 years, Kings Road was the main road through Bottle Hill. It wasn’t much more than a winding narrow dirt pathway. As the population and commerce gradually increased, it became obvious that a larger, better constructed roadway was necessary. The new roadway was completed in the fall of 1804; it ran from Elizabethtown to Sussex. Soon it became one of the major roadways to the interior of the state. Covered wagons were a regular sight coming from the farms and mines which were located in the interior of Morris County. The “turnpike” was also constructed to connect the upper Delaware Valley to Newark Bay and eventually to barges in New York City. With an improved roadway, houses started popping up along the turnpike, as well as a toll house on the corner of Main Street and Rosedale Avenue. Travelers objected to the tolls and soon found an alternate route, Shunpike Road, “shunning the pike.” The first house built along the turnpike was the Britten homestead with a country store attached. It was where James Park is now located. William J. Britten was born and spent his entire life in the house, dying there in 1897. Another one of the original homes that still graces Main Street is the Jonathan Bruen house which now is occupied by the Midwives of New Jersey, next to what used to be Empire Szechuan. In 1803 Mr. Bruen was appointed to a committee to draw up a constitution for the Bottle Hill School on Park Avenue. At the corner of Division Avenue and Main Street is another of the original homes on the turnpike. It was built by Ashbel Bruen shortly after the road was constructed. Eventually it was sold to Joseph E. Tuttle. The home sat on a small hill before it was torn down and the area leveled in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. The house below is actually in Chatham on Main Street, close to the Brooklake Road intersection. It belonged to the Genung family, built shortly after the turnpike was constructed. If you look closely, you can see a barn between the tree and the house which was on Brooklake Road. There is also a triangular shaped rock in the front of the house where the horses were tied. That rock is still on Main Street with the original metal clip on top for the horse’s reins to tie onto.
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