Mount Holly Township is the county seat of Burlington County, New Jersey as well as an eastern suburb of Philadelphia. As of the United States 2010 Census, the Township population was 9,536.
What is now Mount Holly was originally formed as Northampton on November 6, 1688. Northampton was incorporated as one of New Jersey’s initial 104 townships by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798. Portions of the township were taken to form Little Egg Harbor Township (February 13, 1740, now part of Ocean County), Washington Township (November 19, 1802), Pemberton Borough (December 15, 1826), Coaxen Township (March 10, 1845, now known as Southampton Township), Pemberton Township (March 10, 1846), Westampton Township (March 6, 1850) and Lumberton Township (March 14, 1860). The township was renamed Mount Holly as of November 6, 1931, based on the results of a referendum held three days earlier.
Mount Holly has a total area of 2.9 square miles, of which, 2.86 square miles of it is land and 0.04 square miles of it is water.
Mount Holly borders Westampton Township, Eastampton Township, Lumberton Township, and Hainesport Township. The area is commonly referred to as Rancocas Valley noting these five townships which abut the Rancocas Creek.
Mount Holly Township operates under the Faulkner Act (Council-Manager) form of municipal government. The Township operates as a non-partisan body of government with municipal elections held in May.
The current members of the Mount Holly Township Council are Mayor Jason Jones, Deputy Mayor Richard Difolco, Lewis Brown, Jules Thiessen, and Elizabeth Sykes. The Interim Township Manager is Joshua Brown.
Federal, State and County representation:
Mount Holly is in the 3rd Congressional district. New Jersey’s Third Congressional District is represented by Tom McArthur (R, Toms River). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark) and Bob Menendez (D, Hoboken).
Mount Holly is in the 8th District of the New Jersey Legislature, which is represented in the State Senate by Dawn Marie Addiego (R, Evesham Township) and in the General Assembly by Joseph Howarth (R, Evesham Township) and Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R, Evesham).
Burlington County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders. As of January 2017, Burlington County’s Freeholders are Freeholder Director Bruce Garganio (Florence Township, 2017), Deputy Director Katie Gibbs (Lumberton Township, 2018), Linda Hughes (Evesham Township, 2019), Ryan Peters (Hainesport Township, 2018), and Latham Tiver (Southampton Township, 2019).
For Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade, students attend schools within the Mount Holly School District. The three schools serving the District are John Brainerd School (PK-2), Gertrude C. Folwell School (3-5) and F. W. Holbein Middle School (6-8).
For grades 9 – 12, public school students attend the Rancocas Valley Regional High School, a comprehensive regional public high school serving students in grades 9 through 12 from five communities encompassing approximately 40 square miles and comprising the communities of Eastampton Township, Hainesport Township, Lumberton Township, Mount Holly Township and Westampton Township. The school is located in Mount Holly and is part of the Rancocas Valley Regional High School District.
Mount Holly was first settled in 1677 by Walter Reeves who acquired the land by payment from local Native Americans.
The town essentially began after a dam was built on the Rancocas. This allowed water to flow into a mill race that was built connecting two loops of the meandering creek. The race initially powered a grist mill and saw mill. Edward Gaskill and his sons hand dug the mill race on their property between 1720 and 1723.No mills remain on the raceway that still flows in its original course from the Rancocas just above the dam. The land where the mills once stood is now the Mill Dam Park. After the mills were established, houses and commercial buildings were built on High, Church, White, Mill, and Pine Streets so that by 1800, over 250 dwellings had been built.
On December 17, 1776, Colonel Samuel Griffin crossed the Delaware River with 600 men — mostly untrained men and boys, and with little equipment — and marched to Mount Holly, where he set up a few “3-pounder” artillery pieces on Iron Works Hill. Hessian commanders von Block and Carl von Donop, were told that there were 3,000 American troops at Mount Holly.
By December 23, 1776, 2,000 Hessians were moved from Bordentown and positioned at The Mount in Mount Holly, where they engaged in a three day-long artillery battle with the Americans on Iron Works Hill. The Americans slipped away that night.
After George Washington crossed the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, the fact that thousands of Hessian troops had been drawn to Mount Holly aided in the Continental Army’s success in the Battle of Trenton the next day, a surprising American victory that helped turn the Army’s fading morale after the disastrous defeat at the Battle Fort Washington just weeks before and the ignominious retreat through New Jersey.
The 1793 state legislature approved the relocation of the Burlington County seat from Burlington City to Mount Holly. Several important municipal buildings were constructed including the courthouse built in 1796 and the County prison (now a museum) built circa 1819. The prison was designed by nationally known architect Robert Mills. There remains an abundance of 18th and 19th century buildings in town, most of which are included in the Mount Holly Historic District that is listed in the New Jersey
and National Register of Historic Places. Commercial buildings were constructed primarily along High Street. In 1849, the Burlington and Mount Holly Railroad was established and twenty years later, the Camden and Mount Holly Railroad had constructed a station near the intersection of Washington and King Streets.
Mount Holly in the 20th century
A trolley station was built in 1904 for the passengers making connections to Burlington City and Moorestown. New government buildings were constructed during the 20th century including the town hall on Washington Street (1930) and the U.S. Post
Office building located across the street (1935).
In the late 1950s, Mount Holly began experiencing economic difficulties stemming from the loss of its industrial base. In the post-World War II period, Mount Holly saw a large number of blue collar, family wage jobs disappear as the community’s traditional employers, mills and dye factories, were shut down. Initially the impact of the loss of jobs was masked by increased
employment with Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base, especially during the period of the Vietnam War. By 1980, the vacancy rate had climbed as a result of the nearby military installations’ downsizing after the end of the Vietnam War. During this same period, 1970–1980, shopping malls proliferated in the Philadelphia area and retail business in Mount Holly suffered. Mount Holly received Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) status in 1995, which has considerably helped the local economy by providing tax
incentives and other assistance programs to local businesses, including lowering the sales tax rate to 3½, which equates to half of the rate charges statewide.
Mount Holly is accessible at exit 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike via County Route 541. New Jersey Transit provides bus service to Philadelphia on the 317, 409 and 413 bus routes.
Points of Interest:
- Burlington County Prison
- First United Methodist Church
- Friends Meeting House
- John Woolman Memorial
- Mount Holly Library and Lyceum
- Old Brainerd Schoolhouse
- Old Courthouse Complex
- Relief Fire Company
- Shinn Curtis Log Cabin
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
- Stephen Girard House
- Thomas Budd House