A New Hope.

Imagine a town of slightly more than two thousand people that has played a major role in the American Revolution, that was an early American manufacturing center, that was a major crossroads of travel between New York and Philadelphia, and that has boasted  notable residents such as: Vice President Aaron Burr, author James Michener, Sons of Anarchy star Winter Ave Zoli, professional women’s soccer player Amber Brooks, Silence of the Lambs screenwriter Ted Tally, former Buffalo Bills linebacker Bryan Scott,  musicians such as Sim Cain (drummer for the Rollins Band) and Gene & Dean Ween (founders of the alt-rock band Ween), and numerous artists from the Pennsylvania Impressionist school of landscape painting.

First settled around 1700, what is now known as the borough of New Hope, Pennsylvania, was originally a crossing point for a ferry that ran between the colonies of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Named Coryell’s Ferry (after the owner of the ferry service), it would be renamed New Hope in 1791 following a fire that destroyed much of the town. In the 19th century, flour and paper mills provided much of the town’s economic power. As those industries left New Hope, the town’s vibrant restaurant scene, quaint streets, and storefront businesses made it into a thriving tourist destination. In fact, today New Hope’s largest industry is tourism (via Wikipedia).

On a beautiful, if very hot, Saturday in June, I set off for New Hope with a new companion: my wife! At a small ceremony at the New Jersey shore, my fiancee and I were married, surrounded by our immediate family. For our first road trip together as a married couple, we had a fun (if very hot!) adventure. Before I begin the photo essay of our trip, however, a bit of a wedding update is in order:

View of the ocean from the New Jersey coast. The sky is a mixture of blue and clouds.
Not a bad location for a wedding…
Sunset view of the bayside of the Jersey Shore. Buildings and docked ships are on the right.
And not a bad view to end our wedding day, either.
Exterior view of Congress Hall in Cape May, NJ. Vehicles are parked in front of the building.
We stayed at Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey. Built in 1816, Congress Hall was one of the first luxury resort hotels in the United States. Four US Presidents have vacationed here, and President Benjamin Harrison made this hotel his “Summer White House,” conducting the affairs of the nation from his hotel room during his summer vacations.
Elevator floor indicator atop Cab 2 elevator in Congress Hall.
The age of the hotel is apparent in the little details, such as this floor indicator for the elevators.
19th century breakfast menu, framed and displayed in a hotel corridor.
Congress Hall does an excellent job of displaying its history to visitors and guests. One hallway (which is open to the general public to visit) is filled with artifacts of its history, including this breakfast menu from the 19th century. Breakfast food we would recognize today: scrambled eggs, omelettes, ham, fried potatoes, coffee, and toast. Breakfast food we probably wouldn’t recognize: fish balls, kidneys, tripe, mutton chops, and stewed oysters.
Map of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with a red pin in the location of Parry Mansion in New Hope, PA.
Today’s destination: New Hope, Pennsylvania, and the historic Parry Mansion.
New Hope Visitors Center, with a large clock in front of the building.
The New Hope Visitors Center is emblematic of the architecture of the town. First built in 1839, it was originally the town hall. There is very little new construction in New Hope. Instead, many of the old buildings have been repurposed.
Exterior of Karla's restaurant in New Hope.
Our first stop was lunch at Karla’s. Established in 1978 in a historic building, Karla’s serves excellent, and affordable, fare. I had a cheeseburger and my wife dined on soft shell crab.
Exterior of the Vansant house, a two-story stone house.
After lunch, we took a walking tour of some of the more historic buildings in New Hope, such as the Vansant House, the oldest stone house in New Hope (1743). Fun fact: during a renovation, grapeshot (a type of ammunition used during the Revolutionary War) was found embedded in the roof, most likely striking the house when British soldiers from the New Jersey coastline fired at Continental Soldiers in New Hope during the Revolution.
Exterior of Marsha Brown, a restaurant located in a stone church.
It’s a church! Well, once upon a time, it was. Now it is Marsha Brown, a restaurant specializing in Creole food, and is located in a 125-year old stone church.
View of tree-lined Delaware Canal.
One of the lesser-known attractions in New Hope is the Delaware Canal. Built in the early 1830s, the 60-mile long canal, which begins in New Hope, connects the Delaware River with the Lehigh River, and was used to move goods and cargo. It was part of a 1200-mile system of canals that connected Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lake Erie. It is now a National Historic Landmark.
Cannon and pyramid of cannon balls in small green park.
A witness to history: this cannon was originally installed on the USS Minnesota and saw action at the Battle of Hampton Roads in the Civil War, a battle that also saw the encounter of the ironclad ships USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (more commonly known as the Merrimack). The gun, built in 1855, now sits in New Hope to commemorate the Continental Army’s approach to the town during the Revolutionary War.
Exterior of the Parry Mansion Museum.
Our next stop was the Parry Mansion Museum. Operated by the New Hope Historical Society, the mansion, built in 1784, is open to visitors and tells the story of Benjamin Parry, one of the founders of New Hope, as well as the subsequent generations of his family who inhabited the house.
Rear view of the Parry Mansion. Trees and shrubs are in the foreground.
Rear view of the Parry Mansion Museum. Benjamin Parry, a Philadelphia-born Quaker, owned several mills in town, and was instrumental in helping to rebuild after a fire in 1790 destroyed many of the mills and buildings near the river.
Porch of the Parry Mansion Museum.
With temperatures in the 90s, we waited on the porch for our tour (tours begin every half hour). Despite being a large house, it is not opulent. Parry, a Quaker, was certainly comfortable, but did not seem to use his house to set himself apart from his neighbors.
Post-Revolutionary War Mirror with eagle on top. Two candles sit in candle holders, attached to the bottom of the round mirror.
The forty-five minute tour through the house was fascinating. This mirror, located in the drawing room, was from the early Federalist period. Made in Europe, it features an eagle on the top, as European artisans knew that they could easily sell their wares to Americans eager to embrace symbols of their new nation. The mirror is not to check your hair and makeup- its convex shape is to better reflect candlelight through the room.
Empire Dining Room. A large painting of two girls is on the wall. A table set for four places is in the foreground.
The Empire Dining Room. The house has rooms decorated to represent the different generations of residents in the home. The room is decorated as it would have existed in the 1820s. One interesting fact: if you look closely at the painting of the two girls, their heads do not seem to match their bodies. It was common in this time period to paint the head of a child on a pre-painted canvas that already had backgrounds and bodies – to minimize the amount of time a child had to sit still to be painted. The downside? Sometime you ended up with bodies and heads not quite matching.
Ice House behind the Parry Mansion.
Behind the Mansion is the ice house. Built into the side of a hill, the ice house would be used to keep food from spoiling, as ice from local rivers would be covered with straw and placed into the house, keeping food cold until the following winter. Think of it as a really big refrigerator.
Exterior of the Logan Inn.
Across the street from the Mansion is the Logan Inn. Built in 1727, the inn offers dining and lodging in a historic, colonial-era building. And also free wi-fi.
View of the Bucks County Playhouse.
Across from the Mansion is the Bucks County Playhouse, formerly one of Parry’s flour mills. Built after the fire of 1790, this mill was repurposed into a theater 1930. Since then, the playhouse has been used to test many productions that were slated to open on Broadway in New York. Actors and actresses who performed here included Robert Redford, Angela Lansbury, Grace Kelly, Walter Matthau, and Dick Van Dyke.
Exterior of Dilly's Ice Cream
We ended our day at Dilly’s at Centre Bridge, an ice cream stand on River Road in New Hope. Sitting at the foot of the Centre Bridge that crosses the Delaware River, the parking lot was full of cars from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. With temperatures continuing to rise throughout the day, it was the perfect was to end the trip.
Odometer reading of 2012 Honda Accord. TRIP A. 109257. 31.4.
And the Accord continues to roll along. The 100,000 mile mark is quickly fading in the rear view mirror. Next up? 110,000 miles- and there is a special trip planned for that milestone.

New Hope is a great destination for excellent restaurants, historic museums, cool shops, and enjoyable walks. Located about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia, it is also approximately 90 minutes from New York City, and well worth the visit. The Parry Mansion is open from May through November each year, and is open every day during that time from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. While donations are appreciated, the tours are completely free. It is hard to go wrong with choosing a good restaurant. Besides Karla’s, I have also received recommendations for Cafe Blue Moose and Havana. Friends have also shared that John and Peter’s is a great place to catch live music throughout the year. Thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!

‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “A New Hope.

  1. First of all, major congrats are in order on your recent wedding! Looks like you picked an incredible place for the ceremony. And what better way to kick things off in a new marriage than with a road trip to New Hope. Loving all the bits of history in here – and I would love the chance to tour Congress Hall. Interesting that they found bullets in the ceiling. I’ve often wondered how many hidden treasures lie behind the walls of some of the buildings we wander through every day. Time capsules and such. Sounds like your region is getting a bit of a heat wave this weekend. Maybe see if you can find an inner tube and go float 60 miles of the Delaware Canal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Tyson!

      And yes, I also wonder about the hidden treasures that we simply don’t know about- the dinosaur skeleton buried in someone’s backyard, the unknown treasure hidden in someone’s basement, the untold stories that happened in a building years and years ago… it makes discovering them that much more fascinating.

      Yes, the word for the day is HOT. Heat and humidity is never fun.

      Like

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