In the current tight housing market, some North Jersey towns are seeing a shortage of available homes. But in this Morris County township along the peaceful Whippany River, demand for houses has outstripped supply. The combination of highly rated schools, low property taxes and a rich history have made this suburb a hot spot for homebuyers.
The area was inhabited for thousands of years by the Lenape Indians, who called it Whippanong. By the 17th century, European settlers found this area dotted with dense forests of virgin timber and dotted with mills that harnessed the power of the Whippany River. The river’s name was derived from the Lenape word for “arrow wood.”
Many of the mills and factories that once lined the banks of the river are now part of the Whippany Railway Museum, a living historic site that educates visitors about New Jersey railroading and runs several family-friendly events throughout the year such as the Easter Bunny Express and Santa Clause Train. Other notable sites in the township include the historic Henry Doremus house in present day Montville and the Whippany Riverwalk.
Today, the township is a hub of business and home to such corporations as Bayer, Masda Corporation and PCF Corporation. The township is also home to the renowned Morristown Airport, and its location in the heart of Morris County gives it easy access to both NYC and Philadelphia. The township is served by excellent public schools, including Bee Meadow and Salem schools (K-5th Grades), Memorial Junior School (6th-8th Grades) and the high school, which is shared with Hanover Township, is called Whippany Park High School. There are a number of private elementary and prep/boarding schools in the township as well.
Home prices here have been steadily rising, and the township is one of the most desirable places to live in New Jersey, according to a survey released by realtors earlier this year. The median price for a single-family home in the township was $512,500, the survey said, and the median income was $83,400. The township’s property tax rate is among the lowest in the state.
Whippany’s history is a rich and varied one, and it’s reflected in the community’s many museums and historic districts. The earliest settlements of the area were along the gentle, meandering river that bears its name. The township was established in 1676 and incorporated in 1740. It is the predecessor of all 39 municipalities in Morris County.
The township has a rich industrial and cultural heritage that includes the Seeing Eye, the first guide dog school in the United States. It is also the location of a 300-year-old cemetery, the Whippany Burying Yard, which offers a quiet, restful historical crossroads of geography, industry, settlement and politics. The site, off Route 10 East near Troy Hills Road, is the oldest in Morris County and contains gravestones dating back to the 1700s. A Morris County historian will discuss the cemetery’s 300-year-old history during a free talk at the library this month.