Freehold, New Jersey Brief History:
If you ever heard the song “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen, you might wonder, where did these events take place? It’s Freehold, New Jersey – the town where he grew up, the town that inspired much of the small-town America imagery of his lyrics.
However, the history of Freehold predates Bruce Springsteen by roughly 300 years. First settled in 1650, Freehold is one of the original townships of Monmouth County. It has always been the county seat, and from 1715 to 1801 Freehold was simply called “Monmouth Courthouse”.
Freehold enjoys a past that is rich in American Revolution History. Visitors to Freehold can hike, horseback ride or picnic on the grounds of Monmouth Battlefield, the 18th century landscape of fields, woods and orchards where one of the largest battles of the Revolutionary War took place. In was here, on a scorching hot day, June 28, 1778, that George Washington attacked the British Troops who were at the time retreating from Philadelphia back to New York. Other famed participants of the Battle of Monmouth were Benedict Arnold, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette and Molly Pitcher, who took over her husband’s cannon after he was killed by British gunfire.
A walking tour of downtown Freehold is like a step back in time. Many of the beautiful buildings along Main Street date back to the 1800’s – even before. The American Hotel, built in 1824, is in the process of getting a “face life” and will once again be open for business in the near future. The hotel’s most famous visitor was Abraham Lincoln, who stopped here on the way to the White House in 1861. The oldest building in Freehold is St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, built in 1683. Take a stroll through the old cemetery – you’ll be fascinated by dates going back to the times of the pilgrims.
No trip to Freehold would be complete without stopping by Freehold Raceway, the nation’s oldest and fastest daytime half-mile harness racing. It was first opened in 1853, and still operates seven days a week, night & day.
Freehold is a town as diverse at it is old. Quaint Victorian houses lay steps away from trendy dining spots and antique galleries. Freehold is a great day or weekend trip for those who love history, architecture, and of course, food!