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Tour City of Rome at Oak Grove to benefit Hunterdon Historical Society


Hunterdon County Historical Society offers an opportunity to visit the City of Rome Sunday, Sept. 29, without ever leaving Hunterdon.

This City of Rome was a “fantastical” real estate development in the hamlet of Oak Grove in Franklin Township. It lasted only from 1899 to 1912 – but took 51 years more, until 1963, to clear title to the property so it could be sold as a farm.

As the sun sets and twilight descends, Susan Blew, now the owner, will guide guests through the award-winning farm and relate the History of Oak Grove and the City of Rome.

Walk into history with the Hunterdon County Historical Society for $25 per adult. All proceeds benefit the Society’s mission to collect, preserve and share Hunterdon’s history. Arrive at the farm at 266 Oak Grove Road, Pittstown, N.J., by 5:30 p.m. Reserve space at 908-782-1091.

There will be a hayride around the 160-acre farm after dark. Wine and refreshments made from Blew family recipes will be served in their 20th century vegetable barn. Dress is hayride casual.

City of Rome developers planned 2,911 lots on 256 acres without care for the streams, mill ponds, and mill races of the hamlet’s only industry. Lots were priced from $20 to $40 each; there were 18 north-south avenues and 10 east-west streets and a planned shoe factory, church, and two schools. Only some 120 lots were sold, but not one owner ever lived on the land. It appears from the list of buyers that wealthy widows were targeted.

The tour includes the 1860 Federal-style mill house, which the developers called the Mansion Hotel, and the 1849 bank barn, labeled the Hotel Stables. The house still features a free-standing circular stair that led potential buyers to the third-floor ballroom to look over the ambitious project and “get in on the action.”