White Horse Inn, one of the last remaining inns in Pine Barrens, now undergoing restoration. Photo: Stan Fayer
Chatsworth: The Capital of the Pines
Known as "Capital of the Pines," Chatsworth
is the major village in the Pinelands or Pine Barrens, as the
coastal plain area is locally called. Chatsworth's 2,000
population makes it the largest township with the smallest
population of any in the country. Located in Woodland
Township, Burlington County, the village is in the center of a
thriving cranberry farming community, where it holds an annual
cranberry festival the third weekend in October. Chatsworth
lies on the route to coastal resorts, and was once itself a
popular society winter destination reached by train.
The Pinelands' population peaked around 1859.
Following the collapse of iron and glass industries in the
mid-1800s, people gradually moved to other areas. On maps dating to
1800, Woodland Township is shown as the J.D. Beers tract. Joseph D.
Beers was a New York realty tycoon, who amassed 25,000 acres in the
Pinelands. In 1893, his heirs established the Chatsworth Park
Company. About this same time, Prince Mario Ruspoli, an attache to
the Italian Embassy in Washington, married Palma de Talleyrand
Perigold, granddaughter of J. D. Beers, who owned 7,000 Pinelands
acres. The couple loved the area, where they built a Queen Anne
style villa, modeled after Chatsworth, the English country home of
the Duke of Devonshire. The town, which had been called Shamong,
changed its name Chatsworth, yet local residents, called "pineys,"
referred to the villa as the "princess house."
The prince and a wealthy Philadelphian built a lavish
country club for their friends and associates, who visited from New
York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. by way of the Chatsworth's
convenient railroad station. At one time, Chatsworth Club had 700
elite members, which included J.P. Morgan, U.S. Vice President
Levin Morton, Jay Gould, Charles Abercrombie, and members of the
the Drexel, Biddle, Armour, Stokes, and Astor families. During the
depression, the resort's popularity diminished, and the prince
moved to Belgium.
Built in 1860, the White Horse Inn was once a
stopping place for society people on their way to the Chatsworth
Country Club. It later became a boarding house and private
residence. Originally named the Shamong Hotel, it is now a National
Historic Site. A community group, calling itself the Chatworth Club
II, conducts the annual cranberry festival to raise funds to
restore the inn, now owned by the town. Their goal is to make the
inn into a community center and museum. Other area historic
buildings are the restored Buzby's General Store, built in 1865,
which sells food, kerosene, clothing, and other household items;
the United Methodist Church, and the train station, now a
residence. The country club and villa were destroyed by fire during
The Pinelands was designated a national reserve in
1978, and an International Biosphere Reserve by the federal
government in 1983. The area comprises more than a million acres of
public and private land, covered with scrub pine, white cedar
forests, cranberry bogs, and blueberry orchards. The heart of the
Pine Barrens contains pygmy and pitch pines.
In 1999, Chatsworth comprised 200 homes, surrounded
by blueberry fields and cranberry bogs. The Chatsworth Cranberry
Company is the state's second largest producer.
Documentation comprises a 15-page report, including a
history of its historic buildings; a Pine Barrens guidebook;
newspaper clippings; brochures about cranberries, Chatsworth and
its historic buildings; postcards; six slides; a Pine Barrens Press
book listing; and color photos.
Originally submitted by: Jim Saxton, Representative (3rd District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.