In the 1980s, Burlington, NJ based historian, Henry ‘Doc’ Bisbee and a team of researchers identified an oddly shaped and oddly situated Georgian home along the Delaware River as the late 1600s brewhouse of the first Governor of West Jersey’s home. That information never made it beyond the beloved Bisbee’s local xeroxed newsletter, THE BURLINGTON STORY.
Philadelphia based historian Todd Kimmell bought the house and started renovations, but when he pulled down the ceiling in the dining room of what he thought was a mid 18th century home, he found the structure of the 17th century brewery in situ. A trip to the Burlington County Historical Society library revealed all of the back issues of Bisbee’s historical journal, including a number of references to what is locally known as Ivy Cottage, and the early brewing that took place there. “The 1770 house had been built up and over the 1600s brewhouse,” says Kimmell with a grin, “but Dr. Bisbee never lived to see the physical proof of his research.”
The brew house shared a back and side yard with Collins’ print shop, at the time when Ben Franklin was printing paper currency there for the Colony of New Jersey. Tired from printing money, Ben? Time for a pint of the Governor’s best!
Though there are other locations in the US where earlier breweries once existed, there is no brewhouse still standing as old as Ivy Cottage. That makes it the oldest brewhouse in the USA. Pennsylvania’s Yuengling is still the oldest active and continually operating brewery in America, circa 1829, and this discovery takes nothing away from their remarkable record.
Kimmell will host an open house on Saturday, October 3rd, for beer lovers, architectural historians, devotees of early American woodwork and those who just love the wonder of a great story of rediscovery. The house is currently on the market, and has been listed on The National Trust For Historic Preservation’s PRESERVATION 911.
Ivy Cottage is located at 6 West Pearl Street in Burlington, NJ 08016. The open house is Saturday, October 3rd, 2009, from 1 to 4 PM.
For more information about the open house, please call Denise Barnett at 609 304 8801