Historic Main Street Somerville
Somerville was settled in colonial times primarily by the English.
Originally a sparsely populated farming community, it rapidly grew
after the completion of the railroad in the 1850s. Early industry
included brick making from the plentiful red clay and shale on which
Somerville is built.
While much of the borough features distinctive Victorian architecture
and row houses, on Main Street between Bridge and Grove Streets,
lies the Courthouse Green, an architectural gem listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. The focal point is the white Alabama
marble courthouse designed by a nationally prominent architect, James
Reilly Gordon. Adjacent is the stone English Country Church, the
work of noted architect William Appleton Potter.
On the corner of Grove and Main Streets is the stately marble fountain
commissioned by Aileen Lord in honor of her deceased brother and
designed by John Russell Pope, a graduate of the Ecole de Beaux Arts
and the architect of Sloan House (The USGA Museum in Far Hills) and
the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.
Heading west on Main Street visitors will see fine examples of Victorian
commercial facades. The classic bank building on the
corner of Main and Maple (now Commerce Bank) is a salute to the Greek
style with adornments of acanthus leaves and egg and dart detailing.
Across Maple Street is the Thompson Building (or Gaston Building)
built by Senator Thompson. He hired architect Frank Bodine
to build the finest commercial building in all of New Jersey. Bodine
is also known for many of the beautiful train stations on the old
Jersey Central Lines, including Somerville’s.
Several blocks west on Main Street, the United Reformed Church is
a commanding presence. Designed by Oscar Teal in the Richardsonian
tradition, this magnificent church once housed the largest stained
glass window in New Jersey. The Talmage window on the east
side of the church depicts the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning.
The round window, called the Good Shepherd Window, was designed by
H.B. Hankinson of Tiffany & Co.
At the western end of Main Street lies Somerville Borough Hall,
which was once the private residence of the Daniel Robert family
and was designed as a copy of the Lyndhurst house by Alexander Jackson
Beyond Main Street lie wonderful neighborhoods of historic homes as
well as the Wallace House, the winter headquarters of Gen. George Washington
during the winter of 1778-1779, and the Old Dutch Parsonage, built