Before the arrival of the Europeans, Penns Grove was a campsite for Lenape Indians along the Delaware. Swedes settled in the area in 1630 and called the place "Boute". John Fenwick and William Penn later owned this land, the town was later named in honor of William Penn. In the 1800s it was a small village of shopkeepers and fishermen. As this industry thrived many beautiful residences were built along Maple Ave in the 1880s and 1890s.
At the turn of the 19th and in the early 20th century Penns Grove was a fashionable resort on the Delaware River drawing celebrities and the rich from Philadelphia. John Philip Sousa played concerts, W.C. Fields and other notable celebrities were frequent visitors. The French's Hotel offered luxurious accomodations and French's Grove was a lovely tree lined walk along the river where tourists and locals would stroll in the early 1900's.
There were several places of notable interest during this time when tourism was booming in this town. The picture on the right shows the River Side Clubhouse, below are some interesting historical pictures of French's Park and main street from the 1920's and 1930's.
Today the river walk is again beginning to attract visitors and hopefully the area will return to the grandeur it once enjoyed. More than 200 retail and hospitality jobs are expected to be created by the Riverwalk, according to U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), who has helped steer funds toward the borough's redevelopment. Salem County is "completely behind the project," Freeholder Director Chuck Sullivan said.
For more information on the history of Penns Grove, please visit: http://www.pennsgrovehistory.com