An interesting e-mail I received from Todd B. Kimmell that I think is worth sharing with
"In the late 70s and 80s, a New Jersey historian named Dr. Henry Bisbee plotted out
the grounds of the first governor of West Jersey's late 1600s mansion, including his various
outbuildings and neighbors, near the Delaware River in Burlington, NJ. He had the help of
civil engineers and other historians, and used old photos, drawings, written descriptions,
and especially deed surveys from 1745.
They drew up a plot plan based on all that, using similar 17th century local and British
designs to create a three dimensional view of what the whole compound should have looked
The only remaining building from the 1600s was the brew house, which had been doubled in
size and turned into a domicile about 1770, and added onto further approximately 1850-
The brew house, known locally as Ivy Cottage is oddly situated and oddly shaped... only
if you look at it as a Georgian home. As an outbuilding from the late 1600s, it is neither
oddly shaped nor oddly situated. It makes perfect sense.
Dr. Bisbee loved Ivy Cottage, and lobbied repeatedly for the City of Burlington to
purchase it. He included all the facts and history he could uncover and all legends and
rumors as well concerning the old brew house in his xeroxed newsletter, The Burlington
Story. The thoroughly researched plot plan and all the other Ivy Cottage info never made it
beyond his newsletter, which has been collected and stored in the Burlington County
Historical Society library.
My wife and I bought the place because it was an oddball Georgian home near the river,
and we could watch people along the Promenade and boats on the Delaware River from our
second floor bedroom.
When I pulled the ceiling down in the dining room, I found construction techniques and
materials that I'd never seen before. I'd grown up in Squire Cheyney's 1740s house in
Cheyney, PA, and had been in and out of renovations and restorations of similar structures
my whole life. This was different. Broad boards hit with an ax and spread apart, then nailed
up to sizeable beams with very large, very early nails. Then, the whole thing was mucked
with a thick coat of plaster. I knew we'd mastered horse powered or people powered lath,
skinny lath, pretty early, so this had to be WAY early.
I went to the County Historical Society to find out more about the place, and thats when
I uncovered Dr. Bisbee's research. He never had the opportunity to see the actual brew house
within the Georgian home, but he'd plotted it exactly, as my renovations clearly
That we opened up so much more of the house clearly showed the drastically different
construction methods and materials between the late 1600s brew house and the mid 1700s
Georgian home built up, over and around it.
I believe this makes Ivy Cottage the oldest brewery in America. Jamestown might have post
holes identified as where the brewery might have been, and our beloved Yuengling will always
be the oldest continually brewing brewery, but it is a comparative snot nosed kid next to
I believe Ivy Cottage is it.
Anyway, please give these links a look, and consider sharing it with others.