Mercer County is one of the nation’s most fulfilling destinations for history buffs, with an impact that dates back centuries to the Revolutionary War. All around the region, you can stand where history happened and see how our community helped shape America. Wondering where to start?
Here, we detail nine locations—some renowned, others waiting to be found—that showcase this county’s unique and storied past:
Princeton Battlefield State Park, Princeton
A mile southwest of Princeton University, you’ll find Princeton Battlefield State Park, where American troops surprised and defeated British Regulars in 1777. Amid the park’s open field stands a majestic Mercer Oak, a descendant of the original, marking where General Hugh Mercer fell. Also still standing is the Clarke House Museum, which served as a field hospital during the battle.
Nash Park, West Windsor
If you saw the Academy Award-winning film “A Beautiful Mind,” you must visit Nash Park in West Windsor. Created to honor longtime neighborhood resident and Nobel Laureate Dr. John Forbes Nash and his wife, this 1.5-acre park near the intersection of Princeton-Hightstown Road features landscape gardens and designs inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Indian cultures.
The Ely House, Hightstown
Seventy-six historic resources are located within Hightown’s Historic District. Among them is its focal point, Civil War Monument Park, erected in 1875, containing a marble obelisk and surrounded by four Brooke-type cannons. Another historical resource is the Ely House (built circa 1850), now a museum including the relocated and renovated town freight station. Tours are available, and visitors get full access to a local archive.
The Hopewell Museum
Hopewell Borough has remained one of the state’s most quaint and historic treasures since it was settled in the early 1700s. Helping to preserve this is the Hopewell Museum, where you can step back in time and see what village life was like in America from early Colonial days to today. Also, be sure to check out the growing inventory of artifacts, including early tools, needlework, costumes, documents, maps, and more.
The John Abbott II House, Hamilton
When the British were advancing on Trenton in 1776, N.J. State Treasurer Samuel Tucker needed somewhere to stash the state’s money (and his own). He took the funds to the home of John Abbott (built circa 1730), and the British were none the wiser. Today, the John Abbott II House is one of the most famous sites in Hamilton’s history, located on Kuser Road alongside Veteran’s Park. Tours are held every Saturday and Sunday between noon and 5 p.m.
National Guard Militia Museum, Lawrence
Discover New Jersey’s riveting military history at the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey on the grounds of the N.J. National Guard Armory on Eggerts Crossing Road in Lawrence. You’ll hear stories beginning with the Dutch, Swedish, and British colonization through the War for Independence and Civil War, to World Wars I and II, and up to the present day. It also has one of the country's largest collections of N.J.-related Civil War research material.
1719 William Trent House Museum, Trenton
Visit the 1719 William Trent House Museum and see the nearly 300-year-old residence of Mr. William Trent, founder of New Jersey’s capital and Trenton’s namesake (first known as “Trent’s Town”). According to Carolyn Stetson, president of the Trent House Association, one of the things that makes the house so unique is that it’s been furnished according to an inventory taken two years after Trent’s death in 1724. “We’re really lucky in that most of what a visitor to the house would see today is all original,” Stetson has said.
Schenck Farmstead/West Windsor History Museum, West Windsor NJ
In the eastern part of West Windsor sits a 120-acre farm dating back to 1697. Eventually purchased by John and Anna Schenck, the Schenck Farmstead is home to an 18th-century farmhouse, barn, and schoolhouse containing thousands of centuries-old artifacts symbolic of the agrarian lifestyle that dominated the time. Take a tour of the property’s museum to explore more of the town’s history.
Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Robbinsville
Connoisseurs of culturally rich and exquisite Indian design should run to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville. While a Mandir is a Hindu house of worship, the Sanskrit means a place where the mind becomes still and experiences inner peace—which is why all people are welcome. A masterpiece of craftsmanship, it’s just the third Mandir of its kind, built in the Nagaradi style with Italian Carrara marble. Stop by for the breathtaking architecture, gardens, Indian food café, and Hindu rituals.
Don’t just read about the history of Mercer County—experience it!