200 Years of History
By R. Richard Willis
A group of pioneers gathered one day in July 2003 at 778
Rt. 15 South, to view the sights that our forefathers saw
at the first meeting of Jefferson Township on April
9th 1804. This modern group was comprised of members
of the Bicentennial Committee, interested friends, Jefferson
Township and Lake Hopatcong Historical Societies. As with
our forefathers who had to supply their own light for that
first meeting; which were candles and oil lamps, we carried
our modern electric flashlights.
Over the last 200 years this building has not faired well.
Not much of the original building remains intact; many additions
were added. With so many renovations being done nothing looks
the same except maybe the basement. We viewed large hand
cut beams, tree trunks with bark and trees used as support
columns. Many of the original tree-posts are still supporting
the building with help from modern adjustable metal columns.
When we looked up, wide boards and hand cut nails could be
As to the two large fireplaces on each end of the building
and central staircase, these have disappeared into the dim
past. The building has been used as a tavern, two family home,
and a place where ice harvesters lived. In Modern times businesses
such as the Airport Inn, Vunderbar, and numerous tenants have
occupied this building over the years.
Hotels & Inns like Seward’s Tavern, Woodport and
Berkshire Valley Hotels; that were situated along the route
of the Union Turnpike (Route 181 & Route 15 South) were
of great importance to early life in Jefferson. Commerce and
people would travel from town to town, county to county and
to different states via stagecoach lines, private carriages,
horseback and on foot. As people moved along the Union Turnpike,
built in 1805 and other roads such as the Longwood Road (Berkshire
Valley Road), news would travel with them. The taverns and
inns were gathering places to learn of what was happening,
discuss crops, family matters, gossip, talk politics, and
to vote. But the Berkshire Valley and Woodport Hotels did
not survive into the future. But, Seward Tavern building has
lasted and next year it will see its 200th plus birthday.