In 1730, the City of New Brunswick was so named in honor of the English royal house of Brunswick and became a colonial center for trade and commerce. Rutgers University, founded in New Brunswick in 1766, was the eighth college to be founded in the colonies and the only state university to have existed before the Revolutionary War. New Brunswick figures prominently into the history of the American Revolution and early United States.
With the turn of the century and the Industrial Revolution, the city again grew to become a center of industry and commerce, utilizing the Raritan River, the Delaware & Raritan Canal, and the rail lines. The city grew industrially and its preeminence as a pharmaceutical town dates to 1885 when the Johnson brothers moved their adhesive tape and gauze business to an old mill in New Brunswick. Johnson and Johnson is now the world's largest health care products manufacturer and retains its world headquarters in downtown New Brunswick.
The manufacturing industry needed a workforce and to meet this need, many new Americans settled in New Brunswick. Because of this, the city today has a diverse population which can trace its origins to countries in Europe, Africa, South American, Central America and Asia. As these immigrants and their families settled in the city, New Brunswick's spirit of community was born. This spirit is evidenced throughout the city in our churches, schools, theaters, restaurants, social clubs, and business. The rich heritage of the people helps to make New Brunswick a great place to live, work and visit.
New Brunswick is rich in historic sites of local and national significance. For more information about points of interest in and around New Brunswick, please contact the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission at 732-745-4489. Portions of the material below have been reprinted from "Historic Stroll Through New Brunswick", with permission from the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission.
The Georgian mansion was constructed in 1739 by Anthony White and his wife, the daughter of New Jersey's Royal Governor Lewis Morris. George Washington was a frequent visitor to the Mansion. The house was occupied by the Enniskillen Guards during the British occupation of New Brunswick in 1777. The mansion was deeded to the City in 1911. The Jersey Blue Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution now care for the mansion and administer tours and exhibits.
Church and Neilson Streets
The church was built in a Gothic Revival style in 1745. The octagonal wood steeple topped by a copper spire was built in 1773 and is on the National Register of Historic Sites. In 1852, the church was rebuilt, using the original brownstones. The church is surrounded by a pre-Revolutionary cemetery and cast iron fencing. A tree standing southeast corner of the churchyard is believed to have been planted by Joyce Kilmer's father in the 1930's in memory of his son. The church contains a unique, hand-made 24 stop mechanical action pipe organ installed in 2001.
FIRST REFORMED CHURCH
Neilson and Bayard Streets
Also known as the "Town Clock Church," the First Reformed Church is located in the historic commercial center of 19th century New Brunswick, Hiram Market. The church, a Greek Revival structure, was built in 1812. Surrounding the Church is a pre-Revolutionary cemetery and cast iron fencing. Guided tours by appointment.
NEW BRUNSWICK THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Founded in 1784, New Brunswick Theological Seminary is the oldest seminary in the United States. The Seminary is a teaching institution of the Reformed Church in America, called by God to be a servant of the whole church of Jesus Christ. The Seminary's mission is to continue the ministry of Jesus in our time and place by enabling persons to translate their calling and gifts into faithful Christian ministry. For more than 220 years it has been a center for theological education of men and women from many different backgrounds.
GARDNER A. SAGE LIBRARY
17 Seminary Place
The round-arched design of the original library of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary is of Romanesque, basilica design, with clerestory windows. One of the most significant collections at the library is an international collection of bibles. A boulder on the grounds commemorates the site of a British redoubt during the occupation of New Brunswick. American troops also camped on the site in 1778 following the Battle of Monmouth.
HENRY GUEST HOUSE
Livingston Ave. & Morris St.
Originally located on Carroll Place between Livingston Avenue and George Street, this Georgian stone farmhouse was built in 1760 by Henry Guest, a New Brunswick alderman and an associate of President John Adams and author Thomas Payne. Guest House is available for meetings and special exhibits. Guided tours by appointment.
JOYCE KILMER HOUSE
17 Joyce Kilmer Avenue
The famed poet and war hero Joyce Kilmer, the author "Trees" was born in this Greek Revival house in 1886 and resided there until 1892. It is believed that the structure was originally a 1780 Dutch farmhouse, which underwent an expansion in 1840. The house has been maintained by American Legion Post No. 25 since 1929. The property is owned by the State of New Jersey and leased by the City of New Brunswick, which houses its Dial-A-Ride transportation service there.
NEW BRUNSWICK FIRE DEPARTMENT MUSEUM
81 Remsen Avenue
Residents are invited to view memorabilia and artifacts that trace the long and illustrious history of New Brunswick's Bravest. Included in the collection are photographs of fire fighters and fire scenes, 19th department logs, medals and authentic antique fire fighting equipment. Please call Fire Director Jim Riley to arrange a guided tour.
The college building, was begun in 1809, and was not completed until 1825 (the year the school took the name Rutgers College). The building has been cited as one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the United States. Constructed of brownstone, the facade incorporates Doric pilasters, a cupola housing the Old Queens Bell and handmade glass window panes. It is now home to Rutgers' administrative offices.
WILLOW GROVE CEMETERY
Adjacent to the grounds of the Henry Guest House, the cemetery was originally a graveyard for Baptist and Presbyterian Churches in the early 1800's. Seven of the first Japanese students at Rutgers were buried at Willow Grove.
CONGREGATION POILE ZEDEK
145 Neilson Street
The congregation was founded in 1901 and is presently commemorating a century of service to the Greater Middlesex County Jewish Community. The Byzantine-style orthodox synagogue was constructed in 1923 and inscribed into the National Register of Historic Places in 1955.