Our story begins in 1962…
That’s when the old stone farmhouse located on the corner of Washington Avenue and Sycamore Street, and known as the headquarters of George Washington after his decisive victory at the battle of Trenton, was demolished to build a gas station… yes, a gas station.
The dismay and disbelief that the razing of Washington’s headquarters caused amongst the residents led to the formation of the Newtown Historic Association two years later in 1964.
The NHA Today
Over the years the Newtown Historic Association has grown into a vibrant organization that is a significant contributor to the community life of Newtown Borough and Township. We host monthly meetings at the Court Inn, each with a speaker or topic exploring and celebrating the history of Newtown and surrounding Bucks County.
We also hold special events throughout the year, including historical walking tours, a cemetery tour, a 5th Grade walking tour, historical re-enactments, cocktail parties, “Tavern Night,” and more.
In the fall we present Market Day, now in its 40th year. Historic Market Day was first held on Saturday, September 16, 1978, reviving an old tradition in Newtown, where long ago, local farmers brought their crops to town to sell. Our modern-day event features crafters, artisans, fine arts, entertainment and food, as well as a Farmer’s Market of fresh-from-the-farm produce.
In December the NHA hosts the Holiday Open House Tour, a major fundraising event that gives participants an exclusive tour through many private local homes and historic buildings decorated for the holiday season.
Much of what we do is open to the public, so use this website to learn more about our organization, events, and all we have to offer. We hope you’ll consider becoming a member and supporting our continued growth.
Our Mission, Resources, and Facilities
The Newtown Historic Association, Inc. was incorporated in 1964 as an organization dedicated to the preservation of Newtown’s historic heritage. Our mission is to stimulate interest in, preserve, celebrate and share the historic significance of both Newtown borough and township.
Our research center is a repository of deeds, wills, diaries, books, maps, photos, genealogies and other documents relating to Newtown and the surrounding area, especially strong in the period when Newtown was the County Seat (1725-1813), including a special collection on early America’s foremost folk painter, Edward Hicks (1780-1849).
The headquarters is housed in the Court Inn (known as the Half-moon Inn during the mid 18th century), located at the corner of Court Street and Centre Avenue in historic Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Inn is open for tours showcasing the Half-moon Inn (Court Inn) and the many artifacts and holdings of the Newtown Historic Association.
A Brief History of the Newtown Historic Association
An important turning point in Newtown came in 1962 with the razing of “Washington’s Headquarters,” a historic brownstone house built in 1757 that stood on the southwest corner of Washington Avenue and Sycamore Street. George Washington used this house as his headquarters after the Battle of Trenton in 1776. Although it was not the exact same building that Washington used for his headquarters, it was rebuilt on the same foundation from much of the same material and was one of the most famous structures in Newtown. When the house was hastily demolished by developers one night, it inspired a chain of events that resulted in the formation of the Newtown Historic Association.
Newtown Civic Association (1963) – A group of twenty citizens met at the home of A. Newton Gish, Jr., on January 24, 1963, to discuss planning and zoning for the Borough of Newtown. Concerns were expressed about development in Newtown and attempts to change zoning to permit building and development in the Borough, which was currently prohibited. There was much interest expressed in working toward preserving Newtown’s basic character and its historical heritage.
Newtown Civic and Historic Association (1963) – The Newtown Civic Association name was disbanded and a new name was formed. The Newtown Civic and Historic Association was organized in May of 1963. Membership was open to all residents of Newtown Borough and Newtown Township. The purpose of the organization was to promote cooperative planning between the Borough and the Township; to study questions pertaining to planning, zoning, taxes, historical preservation, public health, recreation, safety and other matters of pertinent civic interest. Temporary Chairmen included Thomas Tewksbury, Ernest Millard, Helen F. Randle and William J. Doherty.
Newtown Historic Association, Inc. (1964) – The issues identified by the Newtown Civic Association, coupled with the tragic demolition of Washington’s Headquarters, highlighted the need for establishing an official body to protect the historic heritage of Newtown. As a result, the Newtown Historic Association was officially incorporated in 1964 and gained a tangible presence when Mr. & Mrs. Robert L. La Rue donated the Half-moon Inn (Court Inn) building to serve as the association’s permanent headquarters. In a community so steeped in history, and with a deep appreciation for the wonderful architectural examples still surrounding its residents, it was inevitable that an active, concerned group of citizens would join together to work toward the preservation of this unique and historic heritage.
Many people have questions about the following three local agencies: the Newtown Historic Association, Inc. (NHA), the Newtown Joint Historic Commission (JHC), and the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB).
Because of the similarity in name, scope, membership, and common goals of these three organizations, there is often confusion in the minds of the public. Both JHC and HARB serve in an advisory capacity only to the two local governing bodies. The NHA is a non-profit, non-political, membership organization.
Click on the tabs above to learn more about each organization.
Headquartered in the Half-moon Inn (Court Inn), the Newtown Historic Association, Inc. is an incorporated non-profit organization dedicated to the collection of objects of historic interest, the provision of facilities for sharing interest in local history, and the encouragement of the restoration and preservation of historic properties in the Newtown area. The NHA is open to membership of any individual, family or business interested in supporting these goals, with no restriction on place of residence. The NHA sponsors several annual events in Newtown, including Market Day and the Open House Tour, as well as a historic lecture series. Nominal dues are collected annually to support the operation of the association.
The Newtown Joint Historic Commission is officially designated by the Borough and Township of Newtown to act in an advisory capacity for the protection and preservation of historically and/or architecturally significant structures in Newtown Township and Newtown Borough. The Joint Historic Commission can be a resource for property owners, and Borough and Township boards and committees, regarding historic and/or architecturally significant structures. JHC consists of 4 members appointed by Newtown Borough and 4 by Newtown Township for staggered 4-year terms.
The Newtown Borough and Newtown Township Historic Architectural Review Board members are also appointed by Newtown Borough Council and the Township Board of Supervisors. They have jurisdiction within their respective Historic Districts only, and are created to promote the preservation and protection of historic places and areas of unique historic and architectural interest within the two municipalities. Each HARB consists of seven members appointed by Newtown Borough and seven by Newtown Township for staggered 4- and 5-year terms.