The Society

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. Our 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 House and Garden Tours.

Since 1930 our organization has strived to preserve bits of local and state history. We have been the repository for documents, photographs, antiques and items related to Bordentown’s history. We have continued to collect, expand and refine our collections throughout the years.

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 and adaptive reuse of the building were completed in October of 2001. BHS has continued to maintain and update the building with the support of private and public funding. The Meeting House is open for special community events and is the primary exhibit space for Bordentown memorabilia, artifacts and archives.

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 in 1852. Clara Barton lived and taught in the city for nearly three years before moving to Washington, DC. She served as a nurse in the Civil War where she was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.” In 1881 she founded the American Red Cross. The building houses memorabilia and exhibits of early education in Bordentown City and artifacts related to Clara Barton. In 2021, The BHS will be commemorating Clara Barton’s 200th birthday with exciting educational programs. Fundraising efforts to renovate the Schoolhouse and enhance visitor experience started in April of 2020 and will continue into 2021.

Our newest challenge will be helping to restore The Gardener’s House, the only remaining intact building that was part of Joseph Bonaparte’s estate, Point Breeze. Bonaparte lived in 2 large mansions at Point Breeze from 1823 to 1840!  His Point Breeze estate was purchased from Divine Word Missionaries through the combined efforts of the D&R Greenway Land Trust, Bordentown City, and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. D&R Greenway is the sole owner of the Gardener’s House.

Our vision is to transform the Gardener’s House into a first-class historical and cultural attraction in Bordentown. We are proud to work with D&R Greenway to help make this vision a reality.

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.