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    Libations and the Afterlife on the Southside of Lambertville     gray logo           

Story and Photography by Chris Poh

The Coryell and Lambert families certainly had their differences, but they did seem to be philosophical in accord on at least one key aspect of life—at journey’s end one should expect to find comfortable lodgings, a satisfying meal and proper refreshment. In 1732, Emanuel Coryell proved his business savvy by the purchase of a strategic parcel of land along the Delaware River in the royal colony of New Jersey. He was also granted a charter at that location to operate a ferry crossing. The connected settlements on both sides of the Delaware would become known as Coryell’s Ferry. And though the area was mostly wilderness and sparsely populated, it marked the halfway point on the most direct route between New York and Philadelphia. Those making the arduous two-day trip between cities, either by coach or on horseback, welcomed an overnight stay at Emanuel Coryell’s newly constructed inn and tavern called the Ferry House.

In 1812, the Honorable John Lambert, a former Acting Governor of New Jersey, and now a United States Senator and resident of Coryell’s Ferry, petitioned the Postal Service to establish an office in his community. In that same year, construction began on a wooden bridge spanning the Delaware. Within two years, the town would have a new way to cross the river, and their own post office. A contingent of grateful citizens, with probably the support a few close relatives of Senator Lambert, decided to rename the town in his honor. The Senator’s nephew, Captain John Lambert, was appointed the town’s first postmaster, and he conducted his postal duties from his recently erected tavern and hotel on the new road leading up to the bridge. This change of fortune would do little to ingratiate the Lambert family to the heirs of Emanuel Coryell, and most likely led to the closing of the Ferry House and its conversion into a private residence.

Throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, modes of transport would greatly impact the economic welfare of Lambertville. The opening of the Delaware and Raritan Canal in the 1830s and the arrival of the railroad in the 1850s fueled industrialization and created a good deal of wealth for the town’s luckier citizens. And those that were the beneficiaries of this new prosperity built impressive homes that reflected their status and security. By 1866, the local newspaper referred to the northern section of town as the “Land of promise.” Here was a collection of Italianate and French Second Empire structures that rivaled anything that had been previously built in America.

The twentieth century though would usher in another round of change that would prove to be much less promising for the town’s overall fiscal health. Much of the manufacturing had moved on or was closed even before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. And by 1937, the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which had become the property of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was officially abandoned. The former “Land of promise” on the north side of the community would see many of its stately mansions fall into neglect and disrepair. But on the southern edge of town there was a transition taking place that would be an early harbinger of Lambertville’s eventual revitalization.

Inn of the hawke in Lambertville, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
Inn of the Hawke in Lambertville, New Jersey

Back bar at the Inn of the Hawke in Lambertville, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
The unique backbar adds character

The building which houses the Inn of the Hawk in lambertville, NJ as seen in American Public House Review

The O'brian famiily who once owned the building which houses the Inn of the Hawk in lambertville, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
The private residence which now houses the Inn of the Hawke and the O'Brian family who owned it circa 1900

New hope Lambertville Bridge as seen in American Public House Review
The New Hope - Lambertville Bridge across the Delaware River

A few years after the end of prohibition, the splendid three story brick house at 74 South Union Street, originally built by the McCready family, circa 1840, would become a publicly licensed restaurant and tavern. The business would change names and hands on several occasions before the current proprietors, Doreen and Melissa Mallet, took charge of the property in 1993, reopening its doors for dining, lodging and libations as the Inn of the Hawke. By that time, a number of the town’s other grand old homes had also found new life and purpose as commercial ventures.

Located in a quiet charming neighborhood within a short walk of the old rail bed and canal path, the Hawke captures the spirit (and perhaps even the spirits) of a passed age. Many of the inn’s guests and patrons have claimed to have had paranormal encounters with a young female apparition, and a rather playful ghost known as Jake. The latter specter, while apparently good-natured, is serious about protecting the interests of the house. There is the popular story about an ex-employee who took his leave with all possible haste after Jake denied him unauthorized access to the beer cooler late one night. I myself was a recent witness to the results of a rather intriguing recorded electronic exchange between Jake and a team of investigators from City Lights Paranormal Society.

Window at the Inn of the Hawke in Lambertville, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
A warm and inviting atmosphere

Though I am as fascinated as the next person about the possibilities of where one might go in the afterlife, it is the search for a good place in the current life that takes up a fair amount of my earthly energy. And while I can not state conclusively that Jake has sat on the stool next to me, I will say that those that I have had the privilege of sharing time with at this wonderful local gathering place—make the Inn of the Hawke as good a public house as any on this side of paradise.

taps at the Inn of the Hawke in Lambertville, Nj as seen in American Public House Review
A variety of fine beer offerings

Room at the Inn of the Hawke in Lambertville, Nj as seen in American public House Review
Put you feet up for the night

Dining room at the Inn of the Hawke in Lambertville, NJ as seen in American Public House Reviewi
Enjoy an excellent meal in the dining room

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