Newell House

[Originally published July 29, 1920 in the Allentown Messenger as “Some Interesting Local History” by Charles H. Fidler]


The former home of Dr. William A. Newell, in Allentown [east corner of High and Main streets], was built in 1798 by Dr. Thomas West Montgomery, a great-grandson of William Montgomery, who came from Scotland in 1702 and built the original mansion at Eglinton, near Allentown, now owned and occupied by Daniel J. Wright [no longer extant].


Dr. Montgomery was born in Upper Freehold in 1764. He studied medicine and was admitted to practice November 6, 1787, at a meeting held in Burlington. He afterwards went to Paris and there remained for three years pursuing his medical studies. On his return he settled in Allentown for the practice of his profession.


Remaining in this town for many years, he then removed to Princeton, where he continued to reside until his removal to New York. There he continued to follow his profession until his death in 1820. His body now rests in Trinity churchyard, on Broadway, in that city.


In 1838 Dr. Robert Laird, who had been in practice in Imlaystown, removed to Manasquan. In April 1840, he was succeeded by Dr. William A. Newell and Dr. Leison English, of Allentown. Dr. English was a brother of Admiral Earle English, who was in command of our Atlantic fleet during the Civil War.


Dr. Newell came into possession of his future Allentown home after he had purchased the property from his partner, Dr. English. In 1848 the Doctor was elected to the House of Representatives for two years, when his medical practice was left in charge of his partner.


In 1850 the partnership that had existed between Doctors Newell and English terminated by the later disposing of his interest in the business removing to another place, leaving Dr. Newell sole proprietor.


In 1864 he was again called to serve his party, when he was elected for another term in the lower House of Congress. At this time he secured as assistant Dr. John Furman to look after his interests while he was absent in Washington. Mrs. Furman about this time opened a private school in Allentown, which proved to be very popular. Most of her former young ladies pupils have grown to womanhood and some are presiding over families of their own. At the expiration of this term of Congress Dr. Newell resumed his practice in Allentown, and Dr. Furman removed to Pemberton.


It was during the Congress of the late forties that Congressman Newell attracted public attention by his promptness in ministering at the collapse of John Quincy Adams, who breathed his last in the Doctor’s arms on the floor of Congress February 21, 1848.


Relieved from public duties at Washington after 1865, Congressman Newell gave more attention to his home life. The Doctor was a good entertainer, and the Newell home was often the scene of notable gatherings when some State or local officials or men of various business interests were in conference there.


One of the recollections of some of our older people was the appearance of the dwelling with its roof of imported Dutch tiles. This, with the high terrace that once surrounded the grounds, and the fence with its gate posts topped with ornamental iron eagles, presented a unique appearance that was in strong contrast with that of the present time.


The surroundings of the former Newell home have been greatly changed by the cutting down of several fine shade trees on the front lawn and garden terrace; also the removal of the office that formerly stood at the northerly end of the building fronting Main street. These changes give the residence a contracted appearance when one remembers it as it was in former days [since pleasantly restored].