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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

Preserve America Community:
Newtown Borough, Pennsylvania

Newtown Borough, Pennsylvania, (population 2,312) is located in southeastern Bucks County.

William Penn purchased 5,000 acres that originally included Newtown Borough and Newtown Township from the Leni Lenape Indians in 1682. The plans of the area were surveyed by Thomas Holme in 1684 and remain essentially the same today. Newtown became the county seat in 1725 and a courthouse trade with taverns and inns flourished until the courthouse was moved to Doylestown in 1813.

On Christmas morning, 1776, Gen. George Washington marched from his headquarters in Newtown to join the Battle of Trenton and then wrote two famous letters to Congress describing his victory there. Washington used the old Presbyterian Church as a jail to house several Hessian prisoners, and in 1778, a skirmish with a detachment of British soldiers took place behind the Bird in Hand Inn.

Until 1838, Newtown was one legal entity. When the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation allowing villages to secede from townships, Newtown Borough was officially incorporated on April 16, 1838. Since then, it has been enlarged four times.

The borough and township share a Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places that was established in 1969 and enlarged in 1976 and 1985. Its buildings exemplify all major architectural styles and are featured on the Newtown Heritage Walk, a self-guided tour encompassing more than 30 stops, each with its own sign that includes text and photos.

The communities also host guided Revolutionary-era walking tours, such as one in July during “First Fourth,” an Independence Day celebration that includes ceremonies in front of the Half-Moon Inn. The Newtown Historic Association, which serves both communities, is headquartered in the Half-Moon Inn. This 1773 building was originally a tavern, and several of its rooms have been restored to their original décor.

The town has Market Day each year in September, with more than 60 vendors and demonstrators engaged in such colonial crafts as bee keeping, quilting, rug braiding, spinning, and woodcarving. The annual Newtown Historic Open House Tour takes participants through private local homes and historic buildings decorated for the holiday season, and the Half-Moon Inn features open-hearth cooking and re-enactors of the colonial period.

For more information

Borough of Newtown: www.oro.newtown.pa.us

Newtown Historic Association: www.newtownhistoric.org

Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary - Delaware and Lehigh Canal National Heritage Corridor: www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/delaware

Posted May 27, 2009

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