Mark Neurohr-Pierpaoli always envisioned himself leading tours, taking guests along different historical routes in a place like New York City. When he moved to Bordentown, though, he thought, “Why not here?”
So Neurohr-Pierpaoli founded his Bordentown Walking Tours company at the beginning of this year. He started thinking about the logistics over last Christmas break and officially filed the paperwork in January. He led his first tours the first weekend of May.
“It seems like the right time,” he said. “I’ve done months of research, and now it’s finally coming together.”
Neurohr-Pierpaoli moved from Hamilton to Bordentown in 2016. He and his wife, Sarah, often visited Bordentown City for events like the Chocolate Walk, Cranberry Festival and tree lighting. It didn’t take long for him to notice the area’s historical significance.
The tour highlights Bordentown’s cultural history, dating back to pre-colonial times. English Quakers settled in 1862, and the town quickly became a transportation hub, thanks to its convenient placement between New York and Philadelphia.
Some of the tour focuses on Joseph Bonaparte, who Neurohr-Pierpaoli feels might be Bordentown’s most interesting son, and there is a lot of material on Revolutionary War figures like Francis Hopkinson, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Patience Lovell Wright, a wax figure sculptor and one of the nation’s first spies.
“There’s history on every corner,” he said. “I’ve had to cut more [from the tours] than I can tell.”
For now, Bordentown Walking Tours offers one tour every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Neurohr-Pierpaoli hopes to expand as the business grows—he’s thought about pub crawls and working with local restaurants in the future.
Neurohr-Pierpaoli, 33, is a graduate of Rutgers University, where he majored in English and political science and studied history. He currently teaches English at history at New Brunswick High School. He was born in Hoboken and raised in Woodridge and then moved to New Brunswick for college and then to work. No matter where he’s lived, he’s made it a point to learn about local history.
“I’ve always been a fan of history and local interest,” Neurohr-Pierpaoli said. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours in my own personal time going to different places. If I see one of those brown [historical] signs on the highway, I pull over. I love this stuff, and I know that a lot of other people are into it, too.”
That passion comes in handy on tours. Neurohr-Pierpaoli says he’s done a lot of travelling, and he feels it’s always beeter to be led around town by someone who’s knowledgable.
Neurohr-Pierpaoli scoured geneaology websites and historical accounts for every stop on the tour. He’ll spend a few seconds talking about a stagecoach route that passed through Bordentown, for example, but he says he read several books on the subject just to prepare for a few sentences.
Residents may have seen him talking to himself on a street corner early in the spring, practicing the tour and working out kinks. Sarah was helpful throughout the whole process, he said, listening and taking notes. He said he wouldn’t have done the tours in public without having a strong story to tell, even in the beginning stages.
“Our mission is to promote Bordentown as a historical and cultural destination along the Delaware River,” Neurohr-Pierpaoli said. “Locals already know that we’ve got a special town, and we’re ready to share it with tourists from both in and out of state. We’re frequently described as a ‘hidden gem’ among all the other towns in New Jersey. Folks need to come to Bordentown and see for themselves why.”
Tickets for the walking tours are $15 and can be purchased online at bordentownwalkingtours.com. Private parties are also available for $25 a person. Tour groups meet outside the Old Town Pub at 135 Farnsworth Ave. 15 minutes before their scheduled start times. Each tour lasts about an hour.