Matthew Potter’s tavern, which also served as his home, was built around 1767 and located on the north side of Broad Street. Constructed in a “salt box” design, with two stories in the front and only one in the rear with a long sloping rear roof, the tavern catered to mostly young gentlemen doing business at the courthouse, which was directly across the street.
In December 1775 a weekly hand-written newspaper started appearing in Potter’s Tavern which included articles critical of British rule and supportive of independence. The Revolutionary War had begun earlier in the year, and this hand-written newspaper, known as the “Plain Dealer,” called for open revolution months before the Declaration of Independence was drafted in Philadelphia.
At least thirteen editions of the “Plain Dealer” were produced, and today scholars attribute a portion of the success of the American Revolution to the creation of powerful communication among colonists through newspapers and leaflets like the “Plain Dealer.”
Potter’s Tavern remained a tavern until around 1788 when it was converted into a two-family dwelling. It then is abandoned and nearly collapsed before being purchased by the City of Bridgeton in 1958. In the 1970’s it was placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and is now owned by the County of Cumberland and leased to the Cumberland County Historical Society. It is open on July 4th and other special occasions and by reservation. The only known surviving copies of the “Plain Dealer” are held in the Rare Book Collection of Rutgers University Library.
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