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Discover Woolverton Inn, which was originally founded as the sprawling farm of American Revolutionary War veteran John Prall Jr. 

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Woolverton Inn, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2023, dates back to 1792. 


Located near the banks of the picturesque Delaware River in Stockton, New Jersey, the Woolverton Inn is an incredibly historic destination. In fact, the original owner, John Prall Jr., specifically constructed the earliest iteration of the building while President George Washington was still serving in office! A veteran of the American Revolutionary War, Prall had fought bravely in several battles, including Millstone, Germantown, and Monmouth. Seeking a peaceful life in the wake of the conflict, he purchased a large tract of land from John Ely in 1792. Prall then set about developing an estate, ultimately erecting a simple two-story farmhouse that would become the Woolverton Inn centuries later. The facility subsequently emerged as one of the area’s most prosperous farms. Prall cultivated substantial amounts of linseed and grain crops on the grounds, which were processed down the road at his industrious “Prallsville Mills” complex. But in the mid-19th century, Maurice and Asher Woolverton eventually bought the estate and its accompanying pastures. The Woolvertons further expanded the compound, culminating with their complete reconstruction of the original farmhouse into a beautiful three-story manor. Interestingly, the Woolvertons were related to David and Mary Woolverton Bray. Mary herself made linseed suits for the Continental Army, while Daniel Bray served as an officer directly under George Washington. Bray had even played an important role at the Battle of Trenton, collecting the boats necessary for Washington’s command to cross the Delaware River.

The Woolverton manor remained the center of the estate well into the 20th century, even as the area shifted away from agriculture to art and travel. Numerous travelers from New York City and Philadelphia had learned about the region’s bucolic scenery, prompting a surge in local tourism that lasted for decades. Indeed, this behavior inspired a renowned New York-based trial lawyer named Whitney North Seymour to buy the Woolverton estate for use as his summer home in the 1940s. (Seymour had a respected career, serving first in the Hoover Administration and later as president of the American Bar Association.) Nevertheless, the building would eventually share a connection to the area’s new cultural identity when the Elrita and St. John “Sinjin” Terrell became the owners after World War II. St. John Terrell himself was an engaging actor who had helped establish the Bucks County Playhouse in neighboring New Hope, as well as a celebrated festival known as the “Lambertville Music Circus.” Referring to the manor affectionately as “Northridge,” the Terrells would call the estate home for two decades. During that time, they would host many of the entertainers whom they had invited to perform inside the Bucks County Playhouse. A few of their guests were even some of the era’s most prominent celebrities, such as Ella Fitzgerald and The Supremes! 

The ambitious Anne Hackl became the proprietor of the Woolverton estate in the 1980s. Sensing a great economic opportunity, she gradually transformed the historic manor into a quaint hotel. The work proved to be a considerable undertaking, which masterfully renovated the house’s interior floorplan to accommodate several terrific guestrooms. Reborn as the “Woolverton Inn” in 1992, the destination soon gained a reputation for its fantastic amenities and warm hospitality. The Inn soon received great praise over the following years, including citations within the respected National Geographic Traveler. Mary and Mario Passalacqua then obtained the Woolverton Inn in 2016. Under their watch, the Woolverton Inn grew to feature a stunning outdoor wedding venue supported by a dedicated planning team and trusted vendors. However, the Passalacquas decided to preserve the building’s agricultural heritage, too, introducing a flock of sheep out on the adjacent farmland. Mary and Mario Passalacqua are still the stewards of the Woolverton Inn today, which has hosted hundreds of visitors since the beginning of their tenure. Those guests have continued to adore the location’s amazing history, outstanding amenities, and proximity to the many cultural institutions scattered around the region.  

  • About the Location +

    Woolverton Inn is located in the bucolic borough of Stockton, New Jersey. Stockton itself is a historic community nestled within the rolling, verdant hills of the state’s tranquil Amwell Valley. Its origins specifically trace back to the early 18th century, when some entrepreneurial farmers began operating ferries on the Delaware River nearby. Known informally as “Reading Ferry” and then “Howell’s Ferry,” the settlement consisted of a few rudimentary structures that supported the homesteads doting the landscape. The settlement remained a quiet country town for the reminder of the century, even as the American Revolutionary War brought American and British armies to the surrounding area. (For instance, George Washington and the Continental Army fought the daring Battle of Trenton only a couple miles to the south in 1776.) But the town and its neighboring communities gradually began to undergo industrialization in the aftermath of the conflict. Among the earliest industries to debut were the mills that John Prall Jr. opened during the 1790s. Historical records indicated that Prall constructed a linseed mill, a grist mill, and a sawmill along a tributary of the Delaware River called the “Wichecheoke Creek.” The prosperity of the mills subsequently financed Prall’s other economic enterprises, including the development of a busy stone quarry. They also employed enough workers to spawn an accompanying village that locals took to calling “Prallsville” for years. The prosperity soon spilled over into the greater community of Howell’s Ferry, too, which eventually adopted the name “Centre Bridge Station.”   

    To address the rising economic activity, the New Jersey state legislature decided to create a canal that could enhance transportation through the region. In 1816, they created a commission to survey a potential route, which included a former U.S. Senator named John Rutherfurd. Rutherfurd subsequently recruited civil engineer John Randel Jr. to the project, based on a working relationship the two had created while designing some of Manhattan’s streets five years earlier. Rutherfurd, Randel, and their team spent the next several months investigating a path, ultimately determining that a canal could work very well. Despite their endorsements, political opposition nonetheless prevented any construction from commencing until 1830. Work then began in the community of Bordentown along the Delaware River, before traversing 66 miles to New Brunswick on the banks of the Raritan. (A feeder branch closely followed the Delaware through several small towns like Centre Bridge Station.) The endeavor ultimately took three years to complete at the price of nearly $3 million! Conditions were tough, as the mostly Irish immigrant labor force employed to build the canal suffered from periodic hardships like disease. Nevertheless, the canal proved to be an engineering masterpiece when it finally debuted as the “Delaware and Raritan Canal” in 1834. It excelled at moving countless goods, especially large quantities of Pennsylvania coal. However, many local businesses benefited greatly from the new canal. Indeed, the people of Centre Bridge Station decided to officially rename the settlement as “Stockton” after another member of the canal’s planning committee, U.S. Senator Robert Field Stockton.   

    Over time, the nearby town of Lambertville began to siphon business from Stockton due to its closer proximity to the Delaware and Raritan Canal. But the arrival of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad during the 1850s managed to maintain Stockton’s industrial activity. Stockton also retained its strong bucolic character though, thanks in large part to the preservation of the town’s historic agricultural sector. This serene setting made Stockton a popular tourist destination among countless people living in New York City and Philadelphia toward the height of the Gilded Age. Artists and authors were a huge influence behind the development, who founded numerous art colonies all over the area. The metamorphosis of Stockton and its neighbors into premier travel destinations continued in the 20th century, with tourism supplanting farming as the primary regional industry. Intellectuals also kept arriving to experience places like Stockton, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Robert Benchley. In fact, composer Richard Rodgers even wrote a famous song entitled “There’s A Small Hotel” in honor of his time visiting Stockton during the 1930s. Stockton has since remained a very popular holiday destination in the present. Cultural heritage travelers in particular have enjoyed exploring its fascinating attractions, such as the Prallsville Mills complex and the Delaware and Raritan Canal. (Both sites are listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places today.) However, many other exciting institutions are just a short drive away, as well, including Fonthill Castle, the Mercer Museum, and the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works.

  • About the Architecture +

    Woolverton Inn still displays the same Federal-style architecture that has defined it for centuries. Historically speaking, Federal architecture dominated American cities and towns during the nation’s formative years, which historians best identify as lasting from 1780 to 1840. The name itself is a tribute to that period, in which America’s first political leaders sought to establish the foundations of the current federal government. Fundamentally, the architectural form had evolved from the earlier Georgian design principles that had greatly influenced both British and American culture throughout most of the 18th century. The similarities between the two art forms have even inspired some scholars to refer to Federalist architecture as a mere refinement of the earlier Georgian aesthetic. Oddly enough though, the architect deemed responsible for popularizing Federal style in the United States was, in fact, not an American. Robert Adams was the United Kingdom’s most popular architect at the time, with his work largely involving his own spin on the infusion of Neoclassical design principles with Georgian architecture. (This is also the reason why some refer to Federal architecture as “Adam-style architecture.”) As such, his new variation spread quickly across England, influencing its landscape for much of the Napoleonic Era. Despite the bitter resentments that most Americans then harbored toward Great Britain, their cultural perceptions of the world were still largely shaped by the country. Adams’ new take on Georgian architecture thus spread rapidly across the United States.   

    Unlike many other popular American architectural forms, Federal style is easily recognizable due to its unique symmetrical and geometric design elements. Most structures created with Federal architecture typically stand two-to-three stories in height and are rectangular (sometimes square) in their overall shape. While the buildings normally extended two rooms in width, larger structures would usually contain several more. In some cases, circular or oval-shaped rooms functioned as the central living space. The outside façade of a Federal-style building was simplistic in their appearance, although some detailed brass and iron decorations were installed. Perhaps the most common form that the ornamentations assumed were elliptical figures, as well as circular and fan-shaped motifs. Architects concentrated those features around the front entrance, where cornices, iron molding, and a beautifully sculpted fanlight resided. (Fanlights are a regular design element for Federalist buildings, appearing in other locations throughout the top of the structure.) The exterior walls themselves were primarily composed of clapboard out in the country but consisted of brick in urban areas. Palladian-themed windows also proliferated throughout the façade, configured in a way that conveyed a deep sense of balance. The roofing was hipped, too, containing simple gables and dormers that allowed for natural light to more easily infiltrate the upper echelons of the structure.     

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Julia Child, celebrity chef best remembered for her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as well as her television show, The French Chef.  

    Ella Fitzgerald, singer known for her songs “Dream a Little Dream,” “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” 

    Petula Clark, British singer-songwriter remembered for songs like “Downtown” ” “Romeo,” and “Chariot.” 

    The Supremes, Motown’s most commercially successful act, with 12 number-one singles on the Billboard “Hot 100.”