OPINION: Not So Fast, New Hope
As a life-long New Hope native, I don’t believe the proposed “changes for the sake of change” at Cannon Square benefit New Hope in any way. They only benefit the new owner by adding 72 outdoor seats.
The Logan Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of the oldest continuing functioning inns in the Country (as is the entire Village Historic District). How Borough Council would even entertain for a minute the idea of reconfiguring the iconic Cannon Square for profit is beyond comprehension. The idea of adding a “three story glass elevator” to the Logan Inn is repulsive.
Does anyone else recall when the tents were erected on the lawn of the Logan? The tents were to be “summer seating” only; they were taken down in the fall for a couple of years, then not. The permanent structures that are now there are anchored by a brick paving floor, heaters and fans, a hostess station, etc. — far from being “summer only.”
The camel has once again gotten its nose under the tent the New Hope way — a little bit at a time. Now it seems the new people want to destroy the very properties that bring visitors to New Hope! Where is HARB? Where is the useless Historical Society? It’s not the same group that I helped found many years ago. They certainly have lost their purpose. Can you imagine these shenanigans happening on Cape Cod or Mystic, for instance? Or in Colonial Williamsburg? They’d have a coronary! Of course, they still care in those places.
Also, the point needs to be made that the Logan Inn has probably lost ownership rights to the Cannon Square and adjoining road, oh, maybe 80-100 years ago! Under the law of Adverse Possession, more than the required 21 years has been allowed to pass without an owner ever blocking off or preventing public usage at least for a full day, once a year. Interestingly, Cryer’s Hardware on South Main Street took note of this fact, and blocked off their alley this way. This preserved their private property rights. But since the Logan Inn has NEVER done this, and public traffic uses the road continually, it is now a public road under the law of Adverse Possession.
Additionally, the Borough of New Hope has maintained the road and Cannon Square as its own for decades — snowplowed, cut the grass, planted seasonal flowers, etc. Indeed, this is the community Christmas tree, where the public gathers for the tree lighting. Is the Logan Inn going to compensate New Hope for these many decades of maintenance? What is the assurance that Cannon Square will be as well tended as it is now? The Borough of New Hope needs to slow things down and not be in such a hurry to give away this asset.
Also, the “old cannon” is so much more than that! It is a Civil War-era Dahlgren gun designed by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, USN (1809-1870). He was born in Philadelphia, and was a favorite of Lincoln. His story is fascinating. There were several sizes of cannon, designated by the weight of the shells. (Yes, I know that the cannon balls that are there don’t fit!) In a pinch it could fire just about anything! There’s lots of information online if you want more details about the admiral and his cannons. This Dahlgren gun does not belong to New Hope! It is on loan from either the Naval Academy or West Point, I’m not sure which.
Now, you may ask, “why is it here?” Somewhat forgotten next to the cannon is a war memorial marker signifying some the names of those New Hopers who served 1917-1918 in World War I. Most New Hopers will be surprised to read this, but it’s there! Coincidentally, that makes this the 100-year anniversary! Maybe the American Legion would be interested in holding some sort of ceremony to remember these brave men. New Hope cared enough at one time to pay for such a nice marker, go and look at it!
This little triangle of land is meant to be a respectful reminder that some of our bravest in New Hope paid the ultimate price. The cannon is a valuable, historic artifact that we are lucky to have — it is iconic to New Hope and IS small town charm for many. Where else can generations of kids climb?
Finally, let me say that the existing odd traffic pattern has a natural “traffic calming” effect. It forces traffic to slow and cautiously enter South Main Street, not come zipping down West Ferry Street, only to ignore the stop sign at the bottom. A right turn onto Ferry Street would become an awkward effort. Another consideration is that by eliminating the road, access by fire engines is now farther away from the growing inn, causing a safety issue. For these and many esthetic reasons, please leave Cannon Square alone and in peace. It is a very special place in New Hope that deserves our care, respect and preservation!
Judy Williamson is the daughter of Stephen and Julia Gerenser, founders of one of New Hope’s first and most famous modern businesses, and a former member of the New Hope Historical Society. She has had an active career as a sales manager for area builders, and volunteered for many years as a sales and marketing board member of the New Jersey Builders Association.
(The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Free Press.)