Newton's Oldest Streetscape - High Street

The neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Church and High Streets was developed about 1820 as the town spread out beyond the public square fronting the Court House. In 1820, Jason King built a tavern on High Street on the ground where the entrance to the new County Court Building is located. Originally known as the King House, it was later operated by David Cox and renamed the Crossed Keys Tavern (from the device painted on its sign board) and later the American Hotel. After Cox’s death, Redmond Ward became the host. After his death, it was managed by his daughter, Maria Ward, who married Peter Hoppaugh. For many years, it was known as the Hoppaugh House. The old tavern was badly damaged by fire in 1878. When it was reconstructed, another story was added. The Hoppaugh House was sold at public sale in 1902. It re-opened in 1903 as the Park Hotel. Later operators were Jimmy McKee (who married Hoppaugh’s widow), Edward Willson, George N. Haines, Amos Ackerson, and finally, William G. Shule. It was abandoned as a hotel in 1910 and outfitted as an apartment house. It burned down in 1948.

The opening of Jason King’s Tavern was soon followed by other improvements in the neighborhood. The Sussex Bank opened in its new quarters on the south corner of Church and High Streets in 1823. The first Episcopal Church was erected in 1823 on the site of the present church (built in 1869). A new Presbyterian Church was built, facing Church Street, in 1929. It was replaced by the present church building in 1869-71. Church Street was then the heart of a thriving commercial district, lined with the shops of the village barber, tailor, shoemaker, grocery and dry-goods stores, tin shop and even a hat factory. Opposite the west end of Church Street, George and Robert McCarter operated a lumber yard.

Theodore Simonson Residence, 63 High Street

Carpenter Thomas Farrell erected this American Foursquare dwelling in 1901 for lawyer Theodore Simonson. A photograph included in the Sussex Register Centennial Book 1813-1913 shows that it was originally clad with cedar shingles. The verandah with Tucson columns was supported on brick piers with farmed lattice panels in the apron. Brick walls with a wooden cap flanked the porch steps.

In January 1935, Luse & Smith purchased the Simonson House for use as a funeral home. The name of the firm became Smith-McCracken in 1950. The modern two-story addition at the back was added for the funeral business.

The McCarter-Morrison House, 61 High Street

This side-hall brick townhouse was built in 1819 for tradesman George McCarter. The brick used in its construction was fired at the Johnson Brick Yard at the intersection of Division Street and Linwood Annex. The house was purchased by lawyer David Thompson in 1838. He became president of the Sussex Bank in 1865. In 1891, Dr. E. Morrison employed Simeon S. Cook, a Newton carpenter and builder, to draw plans for an extensive renovation. The old kitchen wing on the northeast side was torn down and “replaced by a structure twice the original size.” Bay windows were added on the southwest side of the old house. Absolom Price did the masonry work.

The Hallock House, 55-57 High Street

Some portion of this house was probably erected by George Rorbach as early as 1795. This property was included in the sale of “the house and lots” of George Rorbach, deceased, by his administrator, Samuel Rorbach, to George H. McCarter in January 1815. The McCarters added to the old house in 1823. Agnes McCarter married Doctor Harvey Hallock. They moved into this dwelling in 1847 when he located his medical practice in Newton. Incapacitated by chronic neuralgia, he abandoned medicine and turned to school teaching. He died in June 1852. Their son Israel Hallock resided here until the property was seized for debts in 1887 and sold at Sheriff's Sale. Dr. Ephraim Morrison purchased it in April 1891.

In April 1894, Dr. Ephraim Morrison employed carpenter Simeon S. Cook to make extensive improvements, greatly changing the appearance of the old dwelling. The Sussex Register described the alterations made at that time: “A neat porch faces the street, the northernmost entrance has been closed and when the wing part is raised to a height corresponding to the other section, entrance will be made and access given to the upper floors by a winding stairway from a reception hall.” This suggests that the northeast end of the building was originally a kitchen wing. After the property was inherited by Dr. Frederick Morrison in 1927, it was converted to a four-family apartment building

William Beach Brickfront House, 53 High Street

Brewers John Waterman and Dilman Daub purchased this Town Lot in March 1810. This side-hall townhouse with a brick front was built for William Beach in 1819. Charles Rorbach purchased the property in 1854, selling it to Samuel Rorbach in 1857. Dr. Jonathan Havens bought the property in October 1873 and added a two-story extension, 16 by 27 feet, to the rear of the house. Jacob Bunnell became owner in July 1887 and in May 1888 added a porch (removed about 1964). Hannah Dolson owned the house from 1893 to 1904, selling to Andrew J. Van Blarcom.

Beach Tailor Shop, 51 High Street

This small dwelling was built as a tailor shop for merchant William Beach in 1821 and was converted to a residence in 1864. The tailor business of Foster & Auble was located here in 1839. Mrs. C. Roy moved her millinery shop here in 1847. Joseph G. Beach opened an ice cream saloon here in May 1851. It was converted to a residence in 1864. Dr. Jonathan Havens rented the premises to lawyer Lewis Cochran in 1873 and he established his law office here. This small house was owned as part of the same property as the adjacent house at 53 High Street until February 1942, when Dorothy Wilcox purchased it.

Ryerson’s Brickfront Townhouse, 49 High Street

David Ryerson built a Federal-style townhouse on the Stable Lot of the Old County Hotel in 1819. The Ryerson Townhouse at 49 High Street is a side-hall, timber-frame dwelling with brick front in Flemish bond.

David Ryerson, son of Martin and Rhoda (Hull) Ryerson, was born on October 9, 1781. Early in life, he followed his father’s trade as surveyor. David Ryerson, merchant, married Mary Linn on November 5, 1815. He was elected to represent Sussex County in the State Council (Senate) in 1829, 1830, 1831 and 1835. From 1831 to 1865, he was president of the Sussex Bank. On May 5, 1842, David and Mary Ryerson sold their townhouse and lot to Moses Northrup, woolcarder. David Ryerson died January 21, 1867.

Sarah Northrup opened a millinery here in 1846. In May 1847, "the brick front house and lot" was sold by the Orphans’ Court to David Ryerson’s son-in-law, Dr. Anthony Morford.

Dr. Morford sold to Daniel S. Anderson (1819- 1890) on April 1, 1854. He served three terms as County Surrogate, beginning in 1848. During the Civil War, Judge Anderson, a staunch Unionist, joined the new Republican party. He was elected President Judge in 1871, when that office was created. He died July 6, 1890. In September 1890, Daniel Anderson’s heirs sold to Mary Howell, wife of Robert H. Howell. Robert Howell died May 8, 1900.

The Howells doubled the house by addition of a large, cross-gabled brick wing (cross-shaped) to the northeast about 1904. This addition features a five- sided, two-story brick bay surmounted by a corresponding, hipped slate roof with centered, hipped roof dormer. Typical of the Prairie style, fenestration on the entire facade was changed about 1904 to single-pane sash with Flamboyant tracery in the upper lights. In September 1910, Dr. Thomas Pooley of New York City opened a medical office at 49 High Street.

Copyright 2000 Kevin W. Wright. All rights reserved.

About the Photos in the order they appear:
1. McCarter-Morrison House, circa 1983.

2. Ryerson-Anderson Town House, circa 1900