Dennis Township Old School House Museum & History Center
Belleplain, Clermont, Dennisville, South Dennis, North West Dennis, Eldora, South Seaville, Ocean View
Dennisville DT Museum Logo Dennisville - Busnell House

Dennis Township Old School House Museum & History Center
Accent image Village of Dennisville Page 1 Accent image


accent image  Village Boundaries  accent image

There are no specific set boundary lines for any of the eight villages of Dennis Township!



accent image  Village of Dennisville Page 1  accent image

Dennisville is on the south side of Dennis Creek (The name was changed to Dennisville in 1854 )and is the most important community within Dennis Township. The main transportation artery is New Jersey Route 47 (Delsea Drive). Dennisville was founded in 1726 by Anthony Ludlam. The first post office in the area was Dennis Creek, established September 7, 1802, with Jeremiah Johnson as first postmaster, he also owned a tavern, his tavern was located on the corner of what is now Main Street and Petersburg Road and remains a private residence today. James Diverty, a ship builder and owner of the premises which housed a ship's chandlery, Jesse Diverty, Esquire who later purchased part of the Johnson tract and erected many stores on Main Street in the heart of the village. Also located on Petersburg Road is the house in which Charles Pitman Robart lived. He was the last of the shingle Miners. The shingles for the roof of Independence Hall were supplied by Charles's father and John Anneley who won the contract for supplying 25,000 shingles needed for this construction. David Johnson who built, owned and operated a the saw mill opposite Johnson's Pond.

The swamps around Dennisville were a prime source of cedar, used for shingles. Standing trees were harvested in the usual fashion, and ancient, submerged trees were mined from the muck, as shown in this view below, until the supply was depleted at the end of the 19th century. Most of the wood was shipped out of Dennis Creek Landing [Source: Geological Survey of the State of New Jersey, 1856].

Brief history of the Atlantic white cedar, Chamaecyparis thyoides. The Atlantic white cedar is a tall, straight-growing tree. The settlers soon learned that its wood was resistant to rot and insects, light in weight, and easy to tool. They used Atlantic white cedar lumber for many purposes -- shingles, flooring, furniture, buckets, barrels, shipbuilding, docks, and more. One of the largest caches of or buried Atlantic white cedar was discovered in the vicinity of Dennisville, New Jersey, in 1812. Some of the trunks pulled out of the Dennisville swamps were as large as 6 feet in diameter, and it was common to find trunks 4 feet in diameter. The mining of the swamps provided employment to Dennisville residents through the late 1880's. Many of the mined trees were used as shingles; well over half a million shingles were produced in some years. Some of the larger logs were cut into boards. Today, Atlantic white cedar swamps have been reduced to about 20% of their original area.

Please visit our Museum Collections Menu - Cedar Mining page for more information and photo's.

For another article on Cedar Mining please visit our "Downloads" page.


Cedar Mining
Raising or Mining Buried Cedar Timber

accent image  Ship Building at Dennis Creek Landing  accent image

Some consider Dennis Creek Landing a part of the village of Dennisville and some say it is a part of South Dennis, so all the ship building information will be listed under the "Museum Collections Menu" - Ship Building at Dennis Creek Landing.


From "A Sectional Tour of the Dennisville Historic Village"

From "A Sectional Tour of the Dennisville Historic Village" created 10/2007 by the late Bobbie Babbitt. Special recognition is due to George Brewer Jr. for the images. Jane and Ray Dixon, the former owners of the Historic Nathaniel Holmes House for many years. Jane is credited with spearheading the effort to compile the architectural descriptions and essential history of the houses in the Historic District and gaining recognition for them on both the State and National Register of Historic Places as of November 24, 1987. Thomas Laughlin at Power Of Production Studio for PC Support, Web Site & CD Development, Archival Services & Technical Assistance.

Early Mill operated by Captain Ogden Gandy
Early Mill operated by Captain Ogden Gandy

The wood business historically has always been a major business in Dennis Township and some of it continues to this day. This picture shows what the early mill looked like when it was owned and operated by Captain Ogden Gandy many years age.

Another Historic house was situated at 121 Main St., where the addition to the WaWa building and rear parking areas were added. The Earnest Spang House was offered free to anyone who would move it. An effort was made to save it but unified cooperation was lacking and it's fate was to be bashed to pieces by a wrecking ball.

The Earnest Spang House
The Earnest Spang House

Knights of Pythias Lodge #130
Knights of Pythias Lodge #130

At the corner of Hall and Gatzmer is The Knights of Pythias Lodge #130 building, now a residence. The ground was purchased from Edward L. Rice on March 23, 1895. The Rice's had purchased the property on August 25, 1893 from Martha Leonard who was the daughter of Mackey Williams. The organization was founded on February 19, 1864 in Washington, D.C.. It's formation is unique as it was the first American Fraternal Organization to be chartered as a result of an act of Congress of the United States.

Knights of Pythias Lodge #130
Knights of Pythias Lodge #130

The Gatzmer Hotel
The Gatzmer Hotel
The Gatzmer Hotel & Main Street Dennisville

Turning right on Gatzmer Avenue, all of the property on the left side was part of the famous hotel called The Gatzmer House. The hotel itself was situated on the corner of Gatzmer Avenue and Main Street. It was run by a famous hotel man named Mackey Williams. The Gatzmer was praised all over the area for it's wonderful accommodations and the fine food that was served there. It was built in 1870. It burned to the ground on Dec. 23, 1887. Rebuilding was begun in 1888 with a grand reopening held in May of 1889. After Mackey Williams died several other owners operated the hotel for a period of time but later it was made into a duplex and finally was torn down.


The Berardo Family. Michael & Sarah Berardo and infant Carmen Berardo taken in Dennisville in 1925 at The Gatzmer Hotel.

Michael & Sarah Berardo and infant Carmen Berardo taken in Dennisville in 1925 at The Gatzmer Hotel

Blacksmith Shop on the left
Blacksmith & Wheelright Shops

Next to the Gatzmer House toward the south side of Main Street stood two very important businesses. One was the Blacksmith Shop (left building). And the other was the Wheelright Shop (right building).

These old historic places eventually fell into decay and were torn down.

Main Street was the main road through Dennisville prior to 1927 at which time Delsea Drive (Route 47) was put through.

Blacksmith Shop on the left and Wheelright shop
Blacksmith & Wheelright Shops

Dennisville Inn
Dennisville Inn

Directly opposite the Gatzmer House on the West side of Main Street was the Dennisville Inn. This was one of the earliest inns in what was then called Dennis Creek. The name was changed to Dennisville on January 12, 1854. The Old Inn was situated where the WaWa stand today which is across from where the Gatzmer Hotel was located.

Dennisville Inn
Dennisville Inn

Hanna Williams House
Hanna Williams House

Continuing up Main Street we will view the historically significant houses on both sides of the street. On the left just beyond WaWa's fence is the Hanna Williams House, 125 Main St. The oldest part of the house is said to have been built in 1787. Hanna was the wife of Mackey Williams, the owner of the Gatzmer House.

Nest to the Hanna Williams House on the same side of the street is the Capt. John Douglass House 131 Main St., said to have been built in 1853. Capt. Douglass spent most of his life at sea. In later years he became a farmer and his daughter, Mrs. Harry Corson had a millinery and dress making business in her Father's house.

Captain John Douglass House
Capt. John Douglass House

Frances Carroll Hemphill House
Frances Carroll Hemphill House

Continuing up Main Street just beyond the Capt. Douglass House is the Frances Carroll Hemphill House at 135 Main St.

The earliest record of ownership was to Richard Crawford, a shop keeper in 1858. At one time there was a windmill behind the barn that supplied the power for a grist mill. Capt. Frank Williams and his wife Mary owned the house at the time of their death. They perished in a shipwreck off of Sea Isle City sometime in the 1800's.

Carroll's Wind Powered grist Mill
Carroll's Wind Powered grist Mill

The Bushnell House
The Bushnell House

On the opposite side of Main St., the second house from the corner of Gatzmer Ave. is the Bushnell House 128 Main St. Beside the house was a boot shop in years past.

Looking to the left side of Main St. at 139 Main St., is the Belle Carroll House. It is one of the oldest houses in the village. There is no plumbing, water or electric in the house.

The Belle Carroll House
The Belle Carroll House

The Captain Ogden Gandy House
The Capt. Ogden Gandy House

On the corner of Main and Church Streets is the Captain Ogden Gandy House at 130 Main St.

Across from the Capt. Gandy house on the same side of Main St. is the Dennisville Methodist Episcopal Church at 134 Main St. The church was dedicated on September 15, 1872. The builders were Charles Crandole and John & Johnathan James.

Dennisville Methodist Episcopal Church
Dennisville Methodist Episcopal Church

Dennisville Main Street Post Card
Main Street Post Card

This old post card depicting Main Street (which is often referred to in early writings as Broad Street) will help you better understand the remaining houses on the right side of Main Street as we are looking North. Note the church steeple. That is a famous reference for our seafaring men in finding the entrance to Dennis Creek.

The Edward James House at 142 Main St. Edward James was a sawmill owner and operated several other mills. One was the mill opposite Johnson's Pond.

The Edward James House
The Edward James House

Johnson's Mill and Mill Pond 1908
Johnson's Mill, Mill Pond 1908

Johnson's Mill and Mill Pond

Johnson's Mill from Route 47 looking South. Notice that Route 47 was only a dirt road wide enough for horses and wagons to travel!

Johnson's Mill and Mill Pond 1908
Johnson's Mill from Rt. 47 looking South

There is so much more History available at the Museum, so please stop by or make an appointment to visit the Museum.

Should anyone like to contribute to the preservation of our history of the eight villages of Dennis Township please contact Ray Rebmann at the Museum at (609) 861-1899. If you have valuable pictures, with your permission we would like to scan them to digitally preserve them and display them in the Museum and it's web site along with your verbal and/or written description.