Newtown Township, Pennsylvania, (population 18,206) is in Bucks County, in the southeastern part of the state. In 1682, William Penn purchased 5,000 acres that originally included Newtown Borough and Newtown Township from the Leni Lenape Indians. The community was surveyed and planned by Thomas Holme in 1684 and remains essentially the same today. Newtown became the county seat in 1725, and a courthouse trade with taverns and inns flourished until the courthouse was moved to Doylestown in 1813.
On Christmas morning, 1776, Gen. George Washington marched from his headquarters in Newtown to join the Battle of Trenton and then wrote two famous letters to Congress describing his victory there. Washington used the old Presbyterian Church as a jail to house several Hessian prisoners, and in 1778, a skirmish with a detachment of British soldiers took place behind the Bird in Hand Inn.
Newtown was one legal entity until 1838, when Newtown Borough seceded from the township. The township maintained its rural agricultural character until the 1960s, when many farms were sold. Two former farms became the site of Newtown Industrial Commons, a center of light industry, medical, and professional office buildings, and the rural community was transformed with homes and small shopping centers.
The borough and township share a nationally listed Historic District that was established in 1969 and enlarged in 1976 and 1985. Its buildings are examples of all major architectural styles and are featured on the Newtown Heritage Walk, a self-guided tour encompassing more than 30 stops, each with its own sign that includes text and photos.
The communities also host guided Revolutionary-era walking tours, such as one in July during “First Fourth,” an Independence Day celebration that includes ceremonies in front of the Half-Moon Inn. The Newtown Historic Association, which serves both communities, is headquartered in the Half-Moon Inn. This 1773 building was originally a tavern, and several of its rooms have been restored to their original décor.
The community has a Market Day each year in September, with more than 60 vendors and demonstrators engaged in such colonial crafts as bee keeping, quilting, rug braiding, spinning, and woodcarving. The annual Newtown Historic Open House Tour takes participants through private local homes and historic buildings decorated for the holiday season, and the Half-Moon Inn features open-hearth cooking and re-enactors of the colonial period.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2008.
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Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Delaware and Lehigh Canal National Heritage Corridor