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Bridgewater Has Its Own Place In American History

Little did you know that a place so close by was once part of a great battle.

Sitting atop a hill, across from the train station and TD Bank Ballpark, sits a piece of history that you have probably passed by without even noticing.

Now that school is back in session, I thought there was no better way to kick off the school year then with a little history lesson. History buffs need not travel outside of Bridgewater to get a glimpse of the past dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Philip Van Horne probably never thought that the street he built his home on would be frequented by commuters taking the train and baseball fans attending a game, with Target as his closest neighbor.

But so it is that this Bridgewater heritage site on East Main Street finds itself lost among speeding cars and strip-malls.

The Van Horne house sits on a hill, once sacred to Native Americans who sold the land in 1681. In 1735, it was home to the Janeway and Broughton store owned by John Broughton, Bridgewater’s first town clerk.

And 19 years later, Van Horne built his home there.

Van Horne entertained many guests from both sides of the fight during the American Revolution. The house was the headquarters for American generals Benjamin Lincoln and William Alexander, and, during the Battle of Bound Brook in 1777, British troops marched to the house in hopes of finding Patriot officers.

After the Van Hornes, the home became part of a milling business, and was eventually bought by Calco Chemical Company, which renovated it.

Now the headquarters for the Heritage Trail Association, the Van Horne house has exhibit space, a gift shop, meeting rooms and offices.

Beginning Friday through Nov. 10, the Van Horne House will be home to the “Oh Freedom” exhibit, which tells the stories of African-American soldiers during the American Revolution. On Sunday, historian Joe Bector will be a special guest speaker at the Van Horne House during the exhibit.

We all study or have studied American History while in school, but the history of our town is widely unknown. I was extremely surprised and excited to learn that hidden in all of the hustle and bustle, is a site rich in American history.

—Information gathered from heritagetrail.org.

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