By: Jaina Louise Winston, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Resources Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — Bridgeton, previously known as Cohansey Bridge in the early 1700s, had many taverns and places to gather — like any town under the British rule. Potter’s Tavern, located on West Broad Street, is one of the oldest establishments in the town.
During that time, local residents visited the tavern to discuss local news and events. Drinks and food were served to enhance the fellowship between the townspeople, which created the atmosphere of community that is still shared today.
The tavern became a significant spot for residents around December 1775. Around this time, hand-written newspapers that contained key articles regarding British rule and American independence were left near the tavern. The newspaper later became known as “The Plain Dealer,” and it was a method of communication for the townspeople. However, it was seen as treason by British Loyalists. Without knowing it, those who sought freedom from British Rule, created a community built on trust. Though the writers of the “Plain Dealer” were anonymous, those writers later became governors of New Jersey after the Revolutionary War.
“By reaching out to one another, colonists built bonds of sympathy and unity by reading about local acts of resistance and stories of suffering under British rule the colonists came to realize they were fighting for each other,” Cumberland County’s historical society said.
The building opens its doors for visitors a couple times per year. Potter’s Tavern is maintained by the county to ensure the building is kept in great shape.
“When the house was restored, the main goal was to recreate the experience,” Andrew Ingersoll, a trustee of the Cumberland County historical society, said. “So, there are some older pieces within the house, like the father clock, a handful of old portraits, and other personal artifacts.” The building still stands tall holding the history of the residents of Bridgeton.
Although Potter’s Tavern is usually open a few times a year, including on July 4, the historical society has had to readjust this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. To mimic the experience that visitors had when touring the building, the historical society has utilized an online platform. The building was (and still is!) a staple of safety and trust for the residents of Bridgeton. It is for that reason, the community has grown and flourished even today.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.