History of Dover Township

Morris County, New Jersey


a major Dover landmark is the Clinton Mountain.


1722 – Dover founded by John Jackson. He built an iron forge in the area. The iron industry was central to the growth of Dover.

By 1730 – the Lenni Lenape Indians had left.

1753 – Moses Hurd bought the John Jackson forge. It was said Moses Hurd had come from Dover, New Hampshire.

1758 - Josiah Beaman owned the forge.

1798 – Dover’s first general stored (on Clinton Street) established.

1813 – Dr. Crittendon, first physician in Dover.

1817 – Joseph Blackwell of New York City became a forge owner.

1820 – the first post office in Dover opened.

1826 – Dover incorporated as a village, the streets laid out and named.

1830 – mechanic Billy Ford built his original shop. A pond known as Billy Ford’s Pond is today known as Crescent Field.

1831 – Morris Canal finished. Later the Lackawanna Railroad came to town. From the Hudson Street bridge looking west one co9uld see the canal basin. The canal basin was used for swimming and boating, and, in the winter, ice-skating and sleigh riding.

1848 – Morris and Essex Railroad completed.

1850 – Moller’s Opera House built. (Today it is Goodale’s Surgical Supply.)

1850 – the Searing Hotel built as a stagecoach stop along the Union Turnpike. (It later became the North End Hotel and then the Mechanics Hotel.)

1851 – Dover’s oldest cemetery, Orchard Street Cemetery, established.

1861-1865 – the Civil War.

Post-Civil War – famous visitors to the Mansion House Hotel on Blackwell Street included Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Grant, Grover Cleveland and Thomas Edison.

1869 – Dover incorporated as a town with a population of 3,300 inhabitants.

1869 – the first newspaper, the monthly "The Dover Enterprise", printed.

1869 – the mayor of Dover, England gave two dog statues to George Richards, Dover’s first mayor. The statues were placed at the entrance to the Richards estate.

1870s-1880s – many wood-framed buildings were replaced with brick and steel structures.

1872 – the National Union Bank organized. Its building was located on Blackwell Street next to what once was the Bon Ton Theatre.

c. 1875 photo – a circus parade proceeding south on Sussex Street.

1875 – the old firehouse constructed.

1880 – the "Great Fire of 1880." The Brick Block replaced the wooden building that burned down in the fire.

1880 – Mine baron William Henry Baker built the Baker Opera House. Its tower has been a landmark in the downtown Dover business district for over 100 years.

1885 – public high school program available in Dover.

1889 – electric lights in Dover.

1898 – as troops marched down Blackwell Street to serve in the Spanish American War, peanut vendor John Mazza denounced them. The crowd turned on him and burned his peanut stand.

1890 – Lester Lehman opened the largest meat and grocery store in Dover.

1897 – German immigrant Paul Guenther established a silk hosiery company.

1899 – a town clock established in front of the Harris Jewelry Store on East Blackwell Street.

1900 – re-enactment of the burning of John Mazza’s Peanut Stand.

1900-1960 – Dover became the center of retail shopping in western Morris and Sussex County.

1901 – the high school building constructed.

1902 – gas introduced to Dover.

1902 – a library established.

1903 – the Iron Era newspaper published.

by 1903 – Dover had its own water supply plant.

1903 – Lester Lehman now had a chain of 13 stores.

c. 1903 – the Hotel Dover was located at the corner of Blackwell and Warren Streets. (The hotel was also known as the Park Hotel, then the Sickle House, then the Hotel Dover.)

1904 – first trolley in town.

1906 – William H. Baker built one of the finest playhouses in New Jersey, the Baker Theater. The site was once the McFarlan Park. Some of the stars appearing at the Baker included Helen Hayes, De Wolfe Hopper, Ethel Barrymore, Lillian Russell, Lou Costello, Joe Cook, George Burns and Gracie Allen and Harry Houdini.

1906 – the Bon Ton, the first movie theater in Dover opened. It was located on the north side of Blackwell Street between Sussex and Warren Streets.

By 1910 – the population reached 9,000.

c. 1910 – the first automobiles appear in Dover.

1911 – John W. Hurd donated land for a town park (named Hurd Park). He was the last descendant of the Hurd family from Dover, New Hampshire and wanted to make sure the family name would never be forgotten.

1911 – the Dover Police Department organized.

1912 – the Bon Ton theater closed.

1912 – death of John Hurd.

1912 – big crowds gathered for the dedication of Hurd Park when John Mulligan was mayor.

1913 – the Playhouse Theatre, a new vaudeville house, opened on South Morris Street. (Six months later, the manager of the Bon Ton Theatre took over the Playhouse Theatre.)

1914 photo – a photo of the Ulster Iron Works shows the snow drifts of the big storm of 1914.

1915 – the Dover Trust Company opened.

1916 – the original Dover General Hospital opened.

1920s – the Hudson Street Bridge torn down.

1921 – the building of the Lodge #541 of the Loyal Order of Moose constructed. (It later became the Dutton.)

1922 – in East Dover, H. S. Peter’s Overall Factory manufacturing denim wear moved to Wisconsin and became known as "Oshkosh."

1922 – Dover celebrated its bicentennial.

1922 – the dough boy statue erected in Hurd Park to honor Dover servicemen of World War I.

1924 – Mayor Hosking fought to have all the abandoned canal rights-of-way donated to local municipalities.

1924 – the Baker Theatre was completely remodeled for the coming of motion pictures.

1924 – the old Playhouse Theatre renovated and reopened.

1928 – Max Heller of Newark purchased Lehman’s chain of stores and then discontinued them.

1929 – the old Hotel Dover demolished to make room for the National Union Bank.

the Great Depression – Mayor John Roach helped Dover through the Depression.

1930s - the bi-weekly paper known as the Lakeland News organized.

1930s – DuPont moved the knit6ting operation of the one-time Guenther’s Hosiery Mill to the South to take advantage of cheaper labor. (McGregor’s occupied the old mill building until the 1960s.)

1933 – auto racing began at the Dover Speedway races with little success.

1933 – the Dover Little Theatre organized.

1933 – the soon to be popular eatery the United Grills opened just across the Dover town line.

1933 – the Iron Era newspaper combined with the Dover Index in the Dover Advance (and run by Harry R. Gill).

1934 – the Dover Little Theatre group purchased the Gillen and Young Chapel showroom and morgue building on Elliott Street. (The Dover Little Theatre is the third oldest little theater in continuous existence in New Jersey.)

1936 – Foundry Street became North Morris Street.

1936 – the Mansion House Hotel razed to make way for a Woolworth’s Department Store.

1938 – Dick and Eva Peer formed a drum and bugle corps, the Dover Cadets.

1939 – first public appearance of the soon to be popular Gutter Band.

1944 – the Dover Cadets appeared in the Baker Theatre in support of Mayor Roach and a war bond rally.

1944 – the United Grills burned down and was not rebuilt.

1947 – stock car racing at the Dover Speedway began and led to more successful years.

1947 – the Race Track Inn built on the old United Grills site.

1950 – the Dover plant of the Ulster Iron Works closed.

1954 (June 12) – on opening night of the Dover Speedway the main grandstand collapsed injuring 101 people.

1954 – the new owners of the Race Track Inn changed the name of the restaurant to the Three Sisters Restaurant.

1956 – the Dover Shopping Center opened on land once the site of the Ulster Iron Works. .

1957 – the Dover Drive-in (located on the upper parking deck of the Bassett Highway) opened.

By 1960 – the population was 15,000.

1960 – the old Dover Fire House torn down for the new town hall.

1960s – the old Billy Ford’s Pond drained so that Second Street could be extended to Chestnut Street.

1962 – the Dover Advance sold and became a daily paper called the Daily Advance.

1963 – the new municipal building dedicated and named in honor of Depression-era Mayor John Roach.

1963 – the Dover Drive-in closed (because the poor picture 1ualilty caused by the glare of city lights).

1970s – the old vaudeville Playhouse Theatre torn down as part of an urban renewal program.

1970s – the old Woolworth’s Department Store torn down to make way for the #2 East Blackwell office complex.

1971 – the old town clock destroyed in an auto accident.

1970 – the Dutton hotel was sold and became the Dover Christian Nursing Home.

1973 – the National Union Bank merged with the National Community Bank of Rutherford.

1977 – the Baker Theatre closed.

1980s – the popular Three Sisters Restaurant burned to the ground.

1989 – publication of the Daily Advance ceased.

1989 – the "Dover Dogs" donated to the town. The dog statues had went from George Richards to Thomas Baker to Baker’s granddaughter Barbara Dunn.

1997 – the Dover Renaissance replaced the old town clock on Blackwell Street with a new one.

1998 - the refurbished Baker Theatre reopened.

1998 – the "Dover Dogs" statues were taken out of storage at Dover High School and placed at the entrance to town hall.

1999 – old Billy Ford’s Pond area made into a major soccer field complex and playground (Crescent Field).


Welcome to Dover, NJ. Offical Town of Dover Web Site. Dover’s History. http://www.dover-nj.com/history.html

Stanley Schoonmaker and George Laurie. 1999. Images of America: Dover. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.