John Brearley House
off Princeton Pike, Lawrence Township, Mercer County, NJ


Heading southwest on Princeton Pike (Route 583), from the intersection of Princeton Pike and Fackler Road it is a 0.9 of a mile drive to a left turn onto Meadow Road (adjacent to the Princessville Cemetery).  (There is a large sign for the Brearley House along the Princeton Pike here.) Drive 0.5 of a mile and park in the small parking lot in back of the historic house. 


1690s – the Brearley family arrive in Lawrence Township.

1761 – The brick farmhouse on the property was built by John Brearley II and his son, James Brearley.

1918 – after five generations of Brearleys lived in the farmhouse, it passed out of the family’s hands.

1978 – Lawrence Township acquired the Brearley House with state Green Acres Program money.

1979 – a township-commissioned report recommended incorporating the Brearley House into a park or outdoor education center.

1986 – Mayor Carl Kreger appointed the Brearley Tract Advisory Committee to determine the best use of the house.

1987 (early) – the Advisory Committee presented a 10-year plan to preserve the farmhouse.

1989 – the Township Council hired Short and Ford Architects of Princeton to study the house and make recommendations on its continued preservation.

1999 – finally the preservationists` had the money to pay for the farmhouse restoration.

(Source: Lea Kahn; May 6, 2000, End of a long road: Gala will close over 20 years of work at Brearley House. The Packet Group.


In 1998 the township built the 1/3 mile Brearley-Great Meadow Trail which crosses Shipetaukin Creek and connects the historic site to the D&R Canal towpath.  A plaque says that the trail is dedicated to Gretel Gatterdam whose vision led to the building of the trail.

The Lawrenceville School acquired the 119 acre Cranstoun Farm in 1997 from Lawrence Township in a swap enabling the school to consolidate its land. In return the township acquired the 184 acre Dyson Trust parcel adjacent to the Brearley Tract, which consolidated its open space land between the D&R Canal and Princeton Pike.


10/18/04.  The Brearley House is surrounded by beautiful green lawns.  On the east side of the lawns is a dedication plaque of the Brearley-Great Meadow Trail, August 1999.  It is a short walk past woods and marsh to the D&R Canal.  It is a beautiful stretch of the canal here with fewer buildings spoiling the view.  There were long distance views north and south along the canal.  It made me want to take a walk along the canal, but it was already late and time to head back for the long drive home. 

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant found in bloom on date of field trip, 10/18/04

Acer negundo (ash leaf maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juglans nigra (black walnut)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Maclura pomifera (osage orange)
Phellodendron amurense (Amur cork tree)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Ligustrum sp. (privet)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (black berry)

Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum scandens (climbing bindweed)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)

Agastache nepetoides (yellow giant hyssop)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) *
Aster spp. (aster) *
Bidens coronata (tickseed sunflower) *
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) *
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Lactuca canadensis (wild lettuce)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) *
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Solidago canadensis var. scabra (tall goldenrod) *
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod)
Sparganium sp. (burreed)
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)

Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Cinna arundinacea (wood reed grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Tridens flavus (purple top grass)

Ferns and fern allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)