|Enjoy a drink in the taproom - bar in the left corner!|
Merchants and Drovers itself opened in the 1790s at the crossroads of two roads that were busy even in those early days. Over time, the tavern expanded to four floors, with a tap room, parlors, an assembly room and 12 bedchambers. It continued in that function for well over a century before being given to the local Girl Scouts as a headquarters. The Rahway Historical Society acquired it in 1971 and restored it in stages.
|Rooms were simple yet surprisingly big.|
Upstairs, the long (assembly) room has been given over to an informative exhibit explaining the role of the tavern in New Jersey's Colonial and post-Colonial society. A display on the entertainment available at taverns includes a reproduction of an Egyptian mummy that was shown at Merchants and Drovers by a traveling showman, and there's a simple yet fun board game that underscores some of the challenges a traveler might have faced in getting to the inn. And like today, inns were battling the war with bedbugs, as illustrated by a display showing infested bed linens and bugs encased in lucite. Fun for the whole family!
As a bonus to the tavern, the adjacent Rahway Cemetery was also open to visitors for Four Centuries. We intended to make our visit quick but ended up spending about a half hour wandering through to find gravestones from colonial times through to the present. Most notably, Abraham Clark, signer of the Declaration of Independence, is buried there with his wife Sarah. He's memorialized with both a gravestone and a large obelisk dedicated in 1848.