UNION, NJ — It was a day of good food, old-fashioned fun and friendship, as Union’s annual Historic Pub Crawl wound its way through several historic pubs, taverns and restaurants throughout New Jersey.
More than 50 people took part in a full day of eating and sightseeing as the group made its way from from one landmark to another, soaking up the history of each.
Maria Canarelli, her husband Joe, and Union Historical Society Trustee Tom Beisler came up with the idea for a pub crawl a few years ago, and the event has been going strong ever since.
In an email to Union Leader, Maria Canarelli said the two men “jokingly came up with the idea for a pub crawl as a fundraiser several years ago.”
The Canarellis began to research area historic taverns and pubs still in existence, and began planning a fundraiser that would take a busload of people on a field trip.
“We planned a trip to three historic inns and taverns,” Canarelli said.
The historic inns and taverns included in last year’s event included The Grist Mill in Basking Ridge, The Black Horse Tavern in Mendham and The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station.
“At each stop, we were treated to pub fare and a cash bar was offered. Our 2015 Historic Pub Crawl was a sold-out event enjoyed by all and left people clamoring for another one in 2016.”
According to Canarelli, this year’s venues run from stagecoach stops to an old working farm-turned-wedding-venue and restaurant to a Victorian house on the banks of the Delaware River.
The pub crawl visited four historic restaurants. They included The Pittstown Inn, built in 1760, for hors d’oeuvres and The Farm at the Grand Colonial in Hampton, built in 1685, for a lunch of farm-to-table fare of Black Forest ham Reuben sandwiches, baked macaroni and salad.
The next stop was The Ship Inn in Milford, built in 1860, where the group enjoyed fish and chips at the British style brewpub. The grand finale was a stroll down the street toward the Delaware River for homemade gourmet ice cream at the Chocolate in the Oven bake shop.
The Pittstown Inn once served as an informal town hall and community center. The tavern was reopened in 1800 by Moore Furman, the deputy quartermaster general for the Revolutionary Army, using Pittstown as his supply depot. During the war, Pittstown was important in furnishing supplies to General Washington.
Homesteaded in 1685, the Grand Colonial was purchased in 1831 by Dr. John Blane, a well-respected physician. After his marriage in 1840, Blane served as the physician, surgeon and major general of the Fourth Division of the New Jersey Militia, training doctors who provided medical service as military officers in the Union Army during the Civil War. The Ship Inn was the first in the state after prohibition was lifted to brew beer for consumption on premises.
During the ride to each venue, Beisler offered some history about them, their relevance to the American Revolution, or their contribution to the history of the state. “Tom’s dialogue was a big hit last year,” Canarelli said. “At each venue last year, we found that the crawl guests had a great time mingling together, enjoying the food and touring the historic buildings.”
Barbara La Mort, a Union resident and president of the historical society, attended the event and spoke enthusiastically about the day.
“On the way there, we had a relaxing ride on a spectacular autumn afternoon through the beautiful New Jersey countryside,” La Mort told the Union Leader in an email. “No, that’s not an oxymoron. Less than an hour from us, in Hunterdon County, are magnificent rolling hills with fenced-in horse farms. And we got to see some colorful fall foliage. On the way home, we experienced the added bonus of the ‘super moon.’”
“There was great camaraderie among the participants, and the hosts at each site treated us most graciously. At the last stop, some of us took a stroll from Milford on the bridge over the Delaware River.”
Canarelli said that choosing the venues is the most challenging part of the Historic Pub Crawl.
“Choosing our venues is not an easy task. Most of the historic buildings in our immediate area have been torn down. We found that we had to go Hunterdon County and beyond to find places that have survived. Sometimes we have found that we think we have a lead on a venue, but find that the only thing remaining is a bronze plaque commemorating the now-gone building. The most difficult planning revolves around finding locales in close proximity so that we can do a six-hour loop on the bus.”