It was bad enough when I had to move from my home state of Florida to Pennsylvania. Moving to New Jersey, however, added insult to injury.
Today, however, I’m basking in the history and friendliness of Burlington, NJ. I decided to take a leisurely stroll down High Street, Burlington’s main drag.
As fate would have it, I wandered into Virtu, a lovely little boutique specializing in – of all things – church hats. I started talking with a couple of customers, one of whom was looking for something to wear to a bar mitzvah. Go figure.
I explained that I was a relative newcomer to Burlington, and they asked if I’d been to the library. Library? What library? (That obviously answered their question.)
They proceeded to tell me that the library was just around the corner. So off I went.
Turns out that the Library Company of Burlington was established in… are you ready… 1757. It’s the oldest library in continuous operation in New Jersey and the seventh oldest in the U.S.
Timing is everything. As I was walking out the library door (after signing up for a library card, of course), I saw a woman dressed in full Colonial garb. I took a picture of her in front of the library and asked why she was dressed in period clothing.
She said she was giving a tour of Burlington. Cool! I asked if I could pay and join the small group, and she said I could – but that it was free. Cool!
We stopped at the Revell House, Burlington County’s oldest building and one of New Jersey’s oldest homes. Interestingly, it was built in 1865 by a Quaker distiller. (If that’s not an oxymoron,
I don’t know what is!)
It’s nicknamed the “Gingerbread House” because Benjamin Franklin supposedly ate gingerbread at the home on his way to Philadelphia. Proceeds of the Wood Street Fair, which I unfortunately missed, help preserve this historic treasure.
We also walked by the home of Ulysses S. Grant, built in 1856, which is now a private residence. I parted ways with the group, and ventured on my own back to High Street, the “main drag” of Burlington.
I found Temple B’nai Israel, South Jersey’s oldest conservative congregation. Then, at the advice of my fellow tour members, I visited the 300-year-old Lily Inn, a quaint bed and breakfast. There I was enthusiastically greeted by Murray Sonstein, the self-proclaimed “official hugger of Burlington.” (Yes, he gave me a big ol’ bear hug.)
So the next time you think of Jersey, don’t think of Snooki and The Situation. Think of the state’s rich history.
Word has it a revitalization is in the works for Burlington. Bring it on.
I guess it’s not so bad being a Jersey girl after all.
Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+