Our mission, organization and background
The Bordentown Historical Society was formed in 1930 as a not for profit corporation to research and preserve the rich history of our town, settled in 1682.
Our mission is to preserve, teach and inspire curiosity about Bordentown’s rich history.
In 1961 the society applied for and received tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. The society’s activities are made possible through individual contributions, grants and earned income. The largest single source of income for the Society is annual membership fees and programs such as our Home and Garden Tours and investments.
Since 1930 our organization has striven to preserve bits of local and state history. We have been the repository for documents, photographs, antiques and quantities of local materials related to our history. We have continued to collect, expand and refine our collection throughout the years.
Up until December of 1999, we lacked a facility in which we could organize and display our collection. We had previously stored bits and pieces of our collection in various city-owned properties and the accessibility of the materials to the public was limited.
In December of 1999, the Summit Bank Donated the Bordentown Friends Meeting House (circa 1740) to our society as a permanent home. Restoration/adaptive reuse of the building were completed in October of 2001. The Meeting House is open for special community events and is the primary exhibit space for Bordentown memorabilia.
In 2006 the Bordentown Regional Board of Education donated the original one room schoolhouse used by Clara Barton to the society for preservation and maintenance. The society raised funds to provide heat and electricity to the building and to restore its crumbling plaster walls. This schoolhouse was the site of the first successful public school program in New Jersey, which was founded by Clara Barton. Clara Barton lived and taught in the city for three years before moving onto Washington DC and founding the American Red Cross. The building houses memorabilia and exhibits of early education in Bordentown City and Clara Barton.
Over the past several years the society has supported the City of Bordentown in their efforts to restore the Gilder House at the entrance to Gilder Park. A circa 1788 farmhouse that provides the society with interpretive exhibit space, the house is owned by the City of Bordentown. A recent grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust enabled the City to restore the exterior envelope of the building to its pre civil war appearance. The society supported the City’s efforts by underwriting the archaeology conducted at the site and providing technical support and assistance.
Annually students studying New Jersey history visit the Meeting House and School House on an interactive walking tour of the town conducted by member volunteers of the society. Hopefully the Guilder House can be added to this list of preserved historic sites visitors can explore.
The Bordentown Historical Society is an all volunteer organization that continues to provide access to Bordentown’s rich past with exhibits, lectures, tours, interpretive museum space and important preservation activities’; a responsibility it took on in 1930 and continues today, over 80 years later.
View our Strategic Plan (pdf)