Where Was the Bellonia Hotel?

Today a new comment was posted on the site by William.  He wanted to know where in New Brunswick the Bellonia Hotel was located?

Does anyone know where specifically within the city of New Brunswick, NJ William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885) was born?  The address or at least the street the family lived on while living in New Brunswick?

This is what I know: a little more than three years ago, I found a sketch of the Bellona Hotel in a New York Times (NYT) article.  The hotel was run by Mrs. Vanderbilt and carried the same name as the steamboat the Commodore operated for Thomas Gibson. She was quite successful in operating it and the family made good money from it; her success with the hotel was fundamental to the start of his career.  The building was built in 1803.

So how do we find out where the hotel was located? A little more research and this is what I found out tonight:

  • a NYT article from August 19, 1900 has a notice about Ms. Hannah Bartow, New Brunswick’s eldest inhabitant.  The article states that she worked at the “old Ballonia Hotel, in Burnet street.”
  • a book reference that describes the location as being near Voorhees street.

excerpt from pg. 141 - Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society (Volume 3)

Looking at a map of the area, I see Voorhees and Burnet street are quite close to one another – both are along the river – a perfect spot for the Commodore to have been running the steamboats (pg. 9 of Arthur T. Vanderbilt’s book, Vanderbilt’s Fortune, says the home was right on the Commodore’s landing).

And what do you know? A search of the newspaper collection from the Library of Congress reveals an article from the February 8, 1901 issue of the San Francisco Call newspaper that also gives the hotel’s location on Burnet street.

Furthermore, a search of the digital archives of the New Brunswick Daily Times,  retrieves an article about a slaughterhouse to be built at the location of the former hotel  “on lower Burnet street..”

excerpt from the March 13, 1913 issue of the New Brunswick Daily Times

I’m pretty sure now that the hotel was on that street and William was born there.  Depending on William’s specific needs, next steps may be to:

Good luck William with your search!  Does anyone else have suggestions and/or additional info?
P.S. — it might help if I spelled the name of the hotel correctly! Forgive the typo on the blog title.  🙂

One thought on “Where Was the Bellonia Hotel?

  1. I was looking at the 1829 map of New Brunswick here and it shows the house and wharf of C. Van Derbilt to be located at the foot of New Street, east of Burnet. Voorhees Street as it is shown in modern maps does not exist and all of that land along the river has been massively altered first by the construction of the Delaware & Raritan Canal along the bank of the Raritan River and later (and recently) the construction of the massive Route 18 roadway. It is most likely that the Bellona Hotel lies under that road as it crosses New Street. I have just starting working to develop resources on the Bellona Hotel so this is new to me.


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