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A little history of the Dover Sportsplex property

For all the history buffs out there, here is a very concise timeline of 111 Bassett Highway, the property that is currently home to Dover Sportsplex. Do you have any good pictures or information to add to our timeline? Please send it our way!

late 1800s

The current location of Bassett Highway roughly matches the historic path of the Morris Canal, which passed through Dover on its way to the Delaware River (at Phillipsburg) to the west and Jersey City to the east. In this map from the late 1800s, 111 Bassett Highway is indicated by the red star.

late 1800s

The picture below shows the Morris Canal in the late 1800s, roughly where it met the rail bridge (at the end of Bassett Highway, in front of the building).

1900 (approx.)

At this time, most of the site of 111 Bassett Highway was a pond. This pond provided cooling water for the nearby steelworks.


The pond and steelworks can be seen in this hand drawn map from 1903. The current location of 111 Bassett Highway is indicated (approximately) by the red star.


The Morris Canal had become uneconomic by the early 1900s and was dismantled in the 1920s. The steelworks shut down in the 1930s, but the pond was still in existence immediately after WW2, as seen in this aerial photograph..


Eventually, the pond was filled and in the mid-1950s, the area was transformed into a unique urban shopping mecca that served the surrounding region. At this time, the current structure was built as a Food Fair Supermarket with its distinctive façade arch.


Competition from other retail options – especially the Rockaway Mall – was the downfall of the Bassett Highway retail area. Food Fair closed this location in the late 1970s, and the building went through various uses, including the NJ Department of Labor and a candy/tobacco warehouse. By 2021, when it was purchased by West Morris Capital, it had been vacant and derelict for a number of years. After extensive renovation, the building reopened in late 2022 as the Dover Sportsplex.

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