The town of Newton, New Jersey, (population 8,244) was settled beginning in 1751 and was the only pre-Revolutionary county seat in the state of New Jersey. In an area inhabited by Native peoples for thousands of years, Newton served as a stopping point along the early routes that led from New York City to the Great Lakes and other interior sections of the country. During the American Revolution, Newton’s strategic place along an intermountain line of supply and communication between New England, the Hudson River forts and Philadelphia was particularly important.
The completion of the railroad in 1854 gave the town more commercial opportunities, and new businesses were established in the fast-growing downtown. Newton incorporated as a town in 1864. In 1873, the first modern factory was built in Newton, creating employment opportunities for local citizens and newcomers alike. Construction of residential neighborhoods boomed during the late 1800s.
In 1895 Newton introduced its first water system, a gravity flow system coming 10 miles into town from Morris Lake, the town’s reservoir. In the early 1900s more factories were built, making Newton the “boom town” of northern New Jersey. Although most of the factories have since closed, many of these buildings remain standing today.
The Sussex County Courthouse, a Greek Revival building erected in 1847 to replace an earlier structure that dated back to 1765, has undergone extensive renovation as part of Sussex County’s effort to promote heritage tourism. A walking tour through the downtown historic district takes visitors past Mansard residences, Greek Revival mansions, brick Italianate homes, and Romanesque houses, as well as commercial buildings and more modest dwellings.
The Newton Fire Museum features the original steamer engine pulled by horses, and the Sussex County Museum houses a collection of Sussex County memorabilia and a library.
The annual Newton Day Festival draws crowds of local residents and out-of-towners to the historic downtown, where they enjoy music, dancing, food, arts and crafts, and fireworks.
Designated a Preserve America Community in October 2007.