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     SHELTER FROM THE STORM white logo
STORY AND  PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS POH

I began the 23rd day of March with a rather vigorous agenda: a brewpub in New Paltz, an old hotel bar in Narrowsburg, and if time allowed, a trackside tavern in Port Jervis. I was still quite a few miles south of the New York State border when winter’s last gasp began to assault the windshield of my Hyundai. A persistent mix of rain and snow combined with an increasing feeling of trepidation, most likely the result of my seasonal affective disorder, would cause me to abandon my Empire State itinerary. It was time to find suitable shelter from this storm a bit closer to home. My southwesterly route of retreat would bring me to The Inn at Millrace Pond, located in the historic village of Hope. It had been a number of years since I last visited this peaceful 18th century Moravian settlement located in the heart of western New Jersey’s bucolic Kittatinny Valley.


A chess game at the Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope,  NJ as seen in American Public House Review



Door to the Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ as seen in American Public House Review




Kittatinny Valley, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
KITTATINNY VALLEY, NEW JERSEY




The Inn at Mill Race Pond in Hope New Jersey as seen in American Public House Review
THE INN AT MILL RACE POND





The bar at The Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
AN ELEGANT, YET RUSTIC AMBIANCE





Having spent most of my childhood living in the midst of that rather typical perception of the Garden State: smokestacks, tank farms and a seemingly endless patchwork of suburban neighborhoods, aimlessly stitched together with congested roadways lined with diners, bowling alleys and strip malls­­­; I never imagined that terms like “peaceful and bucolic” might one day become part of my New Jersey vernacular. But at least in the village of Hope, a more harmonious compact between man and nature had been established.

That agreement began in 1769, when members of “Unitas Fratrum” or Unity of the Brethren (the formal religious name of the Moravians) purchased a thousand acres of farmland from John Samuel Green, Jr. That piece of ground alongside the waters of the Beaver Brook would eventually become one of the country’s first planned communities. And even though the Moravians would reside there for only a period of forty years, they would leave behind a timeless legacy. Today, one can still appreciate the work of these precise and highly skilled craftsmen preserved in the town’s oldest buildings. And there remains a seemingly transcendent feeling of symmetry and serenity, left by those who were governed and guided by their sound social, civic and spiritual principles.


Beaver Brook in Hope, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
BEAVER BROOK

As it was the case in 1769, the structure which today is The Inn at Millrace Pond continues to thrive as a center of commerce. Originally built as a grist mill under the direction of Peter Worbass, the settlement’s first administrator and former manager of the Sun Inn in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania—this early industrial site provided lifeblood to a fledgling community and a lifeline to an imperiled new nation.

The winter of 1779 – 1780
was one of the most severe and coldest on record. North America was in the grip of what some climatologists refer to as the “Little Ice Age.” New York Harbor was engulfed in ice that was several feet thick; while a successive string of brutal unrelenting storms pounded New England and the Mid-Atlantic region. For the nearly 13,000 starving Continental soldiers encamped at Jockey Hollow outside of Morristown, New Jersey, the war for independence and freedom had now become a day by day struggle against deprivation and famine. What the mighty British Army had failed to achieve during four years of fighting, might just be accomplished by the forces of nature in a mere four months. For the men under Washington’s command survival had become dependent upon an occasional morsel of meat or a small ration of flour. And that supply of flour provided by the Moravian mill at Hope would be instrumental in seeing the American Army through that cruel and fateful winter.

During my recent visit to The Inn at Millrace Pond, I got a chance to do a bit of pint hoisting with Bill Kirkhuff in the inn’s extraordinary tavern room, located off the section of the building that originally housed the mill’s waterwheel. Bill along with Jonathan Teed makes up the management team that currently oversees the property. And like their predecessor, Peter Worbass, who kept a careful eye on the mill’s original operation, Bill and Jonathan have journeyed to Hope by way of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Somewhere into my second or third pint, I inquired as to the possibility of a haunting on the premises. I tend to ask the question whenever I’m in an old historic setting; and that aspect of my curiosity always seems to kick in right around that second or third pint. According to Bill, all has been quiet during his tenure. Apparently the specters of the past are dining elsewhere; but I would like to think that the spirit of Peter Worbass resides within these walls. As a miller, master carpenter, and the first landlord of what was considered to be one of the finest taverns in all of the American colonies; I suspect the ghost of that savvy publican would be delighted and quite pleased with the transformation of this 250 year old grist mill. In many ways The Inn at Millrace Pond continues on as it always has, providing sustenance to the wayfarers and warriors of a new age—but now offering a perfect shelter from any of life’s storms. 



Tavern room at The Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE TAVERN ROOM


The dining room at The Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE DINING ROOM


Race wheel at the Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE RACE WHEEL DOWNSTAIRS


Another view of the race wheel at Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ as seen in American Puiblic House Review






Plaque at the Inn at Millrace Pond in Hope, NJ. as seen in American Public House Review
plaque




THE INN AT MILLRACE POND



313 HOPE-JOHSONBURG ROAD

HOPE, NEW JERSEY 07844

908-459-4884   1-800-746-6467


www.innatmillracepond.com

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