The Johnson Ferry House at Washington Crossing Park (NJ), has been a treasured historical landmark in Hopewell Township for decades. As it shows signs of aging, the Washington Crossing Park Association (WCPA), the organization that oversees and educates visitors about the Park, recently renovated the Johnson Ferry House to ensure the prized landmark doesn’t suffer any damages.

“The Johnson Ferry House was built in the mid-1700s by Garret Johnson, who operated a farm, a tavern, and a ferry that took passengers, horses and wagons across the Delaware River,” explained WCPA President Annette Earling, “It’s the only structure still standing [in the park] from the time of George Washington’s crucial Christmas night crossing, and by all accounts, the General and his officers used the house to plan and execute the Crossing –“It’s a national gem.” 

When asked why the WCPA decided to renovate the landmark, Earling explained that the Johnson Ferry House was in danger of suffering severe damage to its structure. She described, “The Ferry House roof was beginning to show wear and tear, and as we all know when the roof goes, the rest of the building will quickly follow.” 

Donations from the late Bill Farkas, one of the founding members of the WCPA; WCPA matching funds; and a 1772 Foundation Grant from the NJ Historic Trust, made it possible for Earling and the WCPA to order a new roof for the Johnson Ferry House to be installed. The new roof, which was installed by Wyckoff Roofing of Hopewell, is “made of hand-hewn ⅞ thick red cigar shingles. It is both beautiful and historically accurate, and it will easily last 50 years,” according to Earling.

Though the new roof will not affect tourists’ visual experiences right now, it ensures the Johnson Ferry House will be there for future generations to admire.

“It is our hope that [the renovation] will influence the experiences of future generations of visitors who will, thanks to our work, have this beautiful space to remind and teach them of the sacrifices of our founding mothers and fathers,” said Earling. 

Table setting at Johnson Ferry House (Photo by Karen Nyby).

The newly renovated Johnson Ferry House is a hint of what’s to come. “We hope to renovate the lovely little spring house and the attached John Honeyman fountain that are located just across the road from the Ferry House. We also hope to do repairs and painting in the historic Nelson House situated in the lower Park, along River Drive,” explained Earling. The WCPA is also looking to create more and better attractions for children, hikers, and historians in the Washington Crossing State Park. As always, the WCPA invites everyone to “give their input and ideas, as well as their support!” 

If you would like to support and learn more about the WCPA, visit https://www.wcpa-nj.com/

Submitted by Brian Chin. Chin is a rising junior at Hopewell Valley Central High School. His favorite classes are math, computer science, and history. He’s involved in Model U.N., Future Business Leaders of America, and robotics. Brian enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, and playing tennis in his free time.

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