Yesteryear's treasures fill the Village Inn
By Joseph Sapia STAFF WRITER May 15, 2008
The blood-red Village Inn building has been a centerpiece in Englishtown for years.
Sitting at Main and Water streets, also known as Monmouth County routes 522 and 527, the wood building's earliest section dates to circa 1726, according to its owner, the Battleground Historical Society. Its newest section is from 1815, according to the society.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park Historian Garry Wheeler Stone said it is a historic building, "colorfully painted, at the crossroads."
"It's part of the identity of Englishtown," Stone said.
Through the years, the building has evolved from a two-room, 1 1/2-story tailor shop-residence to a tavern to the society's two-story headquarters-museum today.
"It's just a labor of love; we keep this going," said Lydia Stillwell Wikoff, 83, the historical society's program chairwoman.
The approximately 95-member society serves Englishtown and Manalapan, Wikoff said.
The society was founded in 1969 and took ownership of the building a few years later, said Wikoff, a charter member. The inn, as it is seen today, including its color, dates to an 1800s era.
At the time of the Revolutionary War's Battle of Monmouth, when the American army met the British nearby on June 28, 1778, an Englishtown tavern served as Maj. Gen. Charles Lee's headquarters. Lee was second in command, with only George Washington ahead of him, in the Continental Army.
The Englishtown tavern that Lee used was likely the Village Inn, Stone said.
"It's one of the most important structures connected to the Battle of Monmouth," Stone said.
Today, the Village Inn serves as the meeting place for the society.
The building also is used by the community and is open for community events.
Its rooms are filled with treasures of days past. In the main room, paintings of the Village Inn one by Jane Reid Zdancewic, the society's treasurer, and the other by Phyllis Hann Perrine, who is from an old-time Englishtown family sit above the double hearth.
Across the room is an 1889 painting of George Washington, copied from the famous Gilbert Stuart painting of 1796. Washington and his troops passed the site on the way to the Battle of Monmouth.
A few months ago, the Jamesburg Historical Association lent the Battleground Historical Society items for temporary display at the inn, including a 1775 wide-plank tavern table and a 1790s Windsor bow-back chair.
Joseph Sapia: (732) 308-7754 or
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