17. The Corner Store – A Chronology

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

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The old corner store has hosted a variety of businesses since the 1830s.

People have lines of descent, genealogies, but it’s hard to think of a store in the same way. One store is not connected to another except by its location. Nevertheless, stores, like people, have stories about the many owners and events that have occurred throughout their history. The corner store in Blawenburg has had numerous businesses for most of the building’s 188+ years. We’ll take a look at the various businesses that ran in this old building and share the progression of ownership along with some of the tales about the businesses and their patrons.

1830 – 60s

Judge Cornelius Stryker’s Store

In 1830, when the Blawenburg Tavern was still the only dwelling in the village, William Griggs, the tavern owner, sold a one and one-half acre plot of land on the corner of Georgetown-Franklin Turnpike and Great Road to John A. Voorhees, who lived on the farmstead on Burnt Hill Road. That federal-style mansion was known as Maplewood. Voorhees was more interested in reselling the corner property than developing it. The local judge and politician, Cornelius Stryker, was trying to figure out where he should live in the township, so he bought land in Harlingen across from where the Harlingen Church is today, and he also bought the corner lot from Voorhees. As a member of the township committee and Commissioner of Deeds, he knew how and where to find a good deal.

Note the reference to Judge Stryker near where his store was located at the intersection.

Stryker ultimately built the existing structure in Blawenburg sometime before 1836. His house was quite different from the traditional farmhouse that was typical of the area. It was more reminiscent of houses in Princeton than those you might find in a fledgling country village. It has been said that the Judge had “a vision of the future village as a street of good town architecture.” (Historic Register Nomination)

In 1832, Stryker began his 33 years of service as postmaster, and after several years, he determined that there was a need for a store to serve the new neighbors who were building houses in the village and the travelers who might need general store items as they traveled between Philadelphia and New York along the turnpike. Building the store meant renovating his house, so the judge built an addition on the west end of the house and modified the original dwelling to improve its architectural aesthetics.

While it isn’t clear when Stryker originated and operated the store and post office, his business appears on an 1850 map of Blawenburg. He eventually sold both the store and the post office to A