Explore Mount Rose

This week we’re celebrating Mount Rose, due to the kindness of Sheila Fields, Max Hayden, and Richard Hunter in sharing important material including local histories, preservation efforts, and documentation of the historic Mount Rose Distillery and Mount Rose General Store.

Map from 1875 Mercer Atlas, Everts & Stewart

Mount Rose History

You make think that Mount Rose looks like “just another simple crossroads, a few houses hugging a dangerous intersection, its single stoplight one more potential delay in the commute to work.” Yet it was “a destination, not a byway, of the surrounding countryside in the 19th century when it was a thriving center of rural commerce and agricultural industry.”

Mount Rose was a busy place in the 1800s – the first schoolhouse and first store opened around 1820, and around 1880 there were some 20 dwellings, plus merchants including shoe-makers, a dressmaker, wheelwrights, a blacksmith. a harness shop, an agricultural implements warehouse, and a small steam sawmill.

Mount Rose also was a destination for fruit growers, with an applejack distillery that opened mid-century to produce barrels of peach brandy, apple cider and apple whiskey.

However, the expansion of Mount Rose peaked in 1880, blunted by the development of the village of Hopewell to its north, which was on the routes of the railroads that arrived in the 1870s.

Development and Preservation

In 2008, Mount Rose was threatened by proposed large-scale commercial development on the former Western Electric site on Carter Road. This would have generated peak traffic flow that would have required a vast expansion of the Mount Rose intersection, threatening to fundamentally alter the character of the historic crossroads village. The Mount Rose Community Preservation Group was formed to protect the historic area. (See the 2008 “Help Save Mount Rose” presentation.)

The site is now the Mount Rose Preserve, managed by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, Hopewell Township, and Mercer County. The Preserve includes 387 acres of meadows, shrubland, and forest, four miles of trails, and two tributaries of the Stony Brook.

Historic Sites

Mount Rose has two historic sites listed on the N. J. State and/or National Historic Register.

The Mount Rose Distillery (Whiskey House / Cider Mill) is on Pennington-Rocky Hill Road west of Hopewell-Princeton Road. It is the only surviving building of the cider and applejack distillery operating before 1840 until 1920, when Prohibition closed the operation down. (See the National Register nomination form, with extensive history of the Distillery site and Mount Rose.)

The Mount Rose General Store was built circa 1831 as the second general store in Mount Rose,  and also housed the first post office. Located at the northeast corner of the Mount Rose intersection, it is now the office of Maximillian Hayden Architect, Inc. (See the National Register nomination form, with extensive history of the General Store site and Mount Rose.)

Explore Mount Rose

The Mount Rose Distillery segment of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail passes the Whiskey House on an off-road path along Pennington Rocky Hill Road, and continues on a paved path that meanders through the Mount Rose Preserve until reaching Carter Road.

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