Our stroll through Mount Holly brought us to a classic part of virtually any colonial town: the inn. The Mill Street Hotel and Tavern looked the part, even without the sign hanging on the porch, stating the founding date as 1723.
The WPA Guide to New Jersey describes the place as “the last remnant of the Three Tun Tavern,” with “original brick walls, revealed in places by a crumbling coat of stucco.” During Colonial times, inns were classified by size, with the ‘tun,’ or hogshead, used as a measure of the amount of liquor there. The Guide goes on to describe a covered cobblestone drive where stagecoaches would stop before heading to the carriage yard around back.
Both the stucco and the drive are gone, the former leaving a brickface and the latter being replaced by a garage door and transom windows. While it appears that the hotel may have evolved into a rooming house, a neon Coors Light sign indicates that the bar is still in business. It was a bit too early in the day for us to check on that personally.
Initial research on the place doesn’t reveal much else, except conjecture that the British Court of Admiralty met there in the last year of the Revolution. Mount Holly was occupied from time to time during the war, and while I can’t find any information on specific judicial action there, patriots generally found Court actions objectionable. Admiralty judges were paid based on the fines they levied, so their decisions could be, well, somewhat influenced by factors other than the law.
One last thing about the Mill Street Hotel and Tavern: there was something about it that drew the focused attention of some interesting raptors. In my experience, it’s fairly unusual to see a pair of black vultures peering into a chimney, but that’s what we saw. Perhaps an errant squirrel or raccoon had made its way up the roof and into the flue, expiring there when it couldn’t get out. We couldn’t quite tell, and the vultures weren’t saying a word. Maybe they're the returned spirits of the Admiralty judges?