Tammy’s Blue Guide to Glen Gardner, New Jersey
Nestled between two mountains beside the Spruce Run stream, the borough of Glen Gardner, New Jersey is situated only an hour and 15 minutes West and North of the bustling New York City. A verdant hamlet of tranquil antiquity, the community is bisected by Highway 31, the only major North to South trucking highway running through Hunterdon and Warren Counties West of Interstate 78. Residents and visitors alike experience the ironic juxtaposition of the sounds of nature and diesel-powered engines roaring their way to and fro past babbling brooks, scenic covered bridges and 200 year-old bank-repossessed farmhouses threatening to buckle in upon themselves with every road-rattle.
Once known as “Sodom,” the town, first inhabited by the Lenape Indians, had also been called Eveland and Clarksville until it was officially renamed in 1870, after the five Gardner brothers, New York City transplants who moved to the area in 1863 and built their picture frame and chair manufacturing factory and homes at the crossroads of a rather notorious inn built in 1770 (still in existence – see the Glen Gardner Inn) and a rowdy village of rock quarry workers who had offended a traveling evangelist with their sinful and querulous ways. All but one of the brothers (who established the General Store, still in existence and currently run by a crazy woman who steals pies at farm stands and sells them) eventually moved away from the borough, and their manufacturing business burned down. As unemployed workers moved away, what had been a self-contained downtown became a shantytown until the post 9-11 real estate boom in the early 21st Century (people wanted to live close to, but not IN, NYC) revived the local housing economy, and an affluent bedroom community was born alongside 31. When the bubble burst a few years later, many of the newly upside-down painted Victorians and Colonials on Main Street and nearby (including the sprawling, slightly haunted abode of the author of this book), were abandoned as their owners tried in vain to renegotiate with their lenders, and finally, in fear of humiliation or homelessness, they moved to higher ground (high rise rentals in New York City) to wait out the process. Ironically, it turned out the banks didn’t want any of these homes alongside 31, so one by one, two by two, and family by family, the city refugees began to return, replacing the stolen copper pipes, restoring roofs, and installing woodstoves for heat while they waited out what common sense told them would be inevitable. Because none of the residents are certain their houses are actually theirs or that their investment into the properties will yield anything down the road but potential misery, the once-bright facades along Main Street now have a gray, weathered look of desperation to them, and passers by will have to excuse the suspicious glances and blatant lack of hospitalilty. Anyone exiting 31 onto Sanitorium Road or School Street to pass through this once abandoned and newly re-inhabited hamlet must be a spy from the bank, looking to see if there is anything worth fighting for…
(See Clinton, New Jersey)
(See Clinton, Washington, and Flemington, New Jersey and Easton, PA.)
N/A…if you need the police, try calling Washington or the NJ State troopers. Good luck with that. If worse comes to worse, knock on old Frank, Sr.’s door on Hampton Road. He can call his nephew two blocks over with the pit bulls. Also, he has a chain saw. For what it’s worth.
(See Blue Guides: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012….nothing’s changed.)