There were originally five villages which comprised the area that became Ewing Township. We’ve already considered Birmingham, later known as Trenton Junction, Altura and now West Trenton; and we’ve just spent several months considering Greensburg, which later became known as Wilburtha.
Still to be considered in future months is the Ewingville area, at and near the intersection of Pennington and Ewingville/Upper Ferry roads; and the Carleton/Ewing area, at and around the intersection of Scotch and Upper Ferry roads.
But this month and next, we’ll remain on the western edge of the township and consider a much-forgotten village/section of the township, the Brookville section, also known as “Asylum Station.”
This early part of Ewing is now the area in the vicinity of the Trenton Country Club, the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, the Village Charter School and the Glen Afton and Island sections of Trenton.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, this area of Ewing—like most of Ewing—was primarily rural. But there were some areas of commercial and other activity. The Woodruff estate, “Oaklands,” which later became the Trenton Country Club, was built 1808. The State Asylum (Psychiatric Hospital), built on farmland in the late 1840s, began to employ nurses, doctors and social workers, as well as to treat patients.
Quarry activity was not far away, and the canal with its cargo traffic, and later the Bel Del Railroad with a stop at “Asylum Station” passed through the area. According to a map dating to 1875, a Woolen Factory was located near the property of James Brook (namesake of the area perhaps?) along the Delaware River. On a 1908 map, Asylum Mill Road connected Sullivan Way (also known as Asylum Station Lane or Asylum Road) to River Road, and to facilities for the hospital. The railroad stop was located next to where Mill Road crossed the canal.
However, aren’t most of those places actually part of the City of Trenton, you might ask?
Yes, NOW they are. But that portion of Ewing Township was actually annexed by Trenton in 1900. (Has anyone ever heard of the great Trenton-Ewing Boundary Wars of 1900?) But previously, that area had been a part of Ewing Township.
Another reminder of Brookville: When the Ewing School Board of Education was created in 1894, there were already six schools and seven teachers in the township—and the Brookville Schoolhouse was one of those schools. It primarily served the children workers at the State Asylum/Psychiatric Hospital, which opened in 1848.
Presumably it was built by the 1860s or so, but I have yet to find any records establishing the date of construction, or even the exact location.
There is, however, a School Lane in Glen Afton, between Sullivan Way and Sanhican Drive, just behind and beyond the gas station at that intersection, which may be the only lasting reminder of the school that may have once been located near there.
If anyone can confirm the location of that original Brookville School, please let me know.
We do know that in late 1895 the school board discussed replacing the school, and 1896, the “old” Brookville School was sold, and construction began on a new Brookville School on Asylum Road/Sullivan Way.
The school was completed in 1897, and continued to educate the children of workers at the State Asylum and others. It was located across the street from the hospital, just beyond where the Village Charter School stands today, at the corner of Sullivan Way and the old Asylum Mill Road.
When Trenton annexed that portion of Ewing in 1900, the Brookville School became a part of the City of Trenton. The Brookville School was renamed the Dorothy Dix School. However, within a few years, it was abandoned. A similar fate befell to the woolen factory, the asylum mill, the Asylum Station and the entire railroad.
However, Trenton Psych is still there, as is the Trenton Country Club. And Brookville Commons is an apartment complex across Route 29. We’ll explore two of these Brookville institutions next month.