Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in an old mansion? Get a glimpse into the past at one of New Jersey’s sprawling estates. Many locations throughout the state are open to the public, offering guided tours and special events. We’ve rounded up five NJ mansions that welcome visitors. Spend an upcoming weekend this fall (or any time of year) exploring one with your family.
Location: 354 Stockton Street (Route 206), Princeton
Details: Drumthwacket has been the official residence of New Jersey’s governor since 1981. The home was built in 1835 by Charles Smith Olden, who later became the state’s 28th governor. It’s located near the site of the Battle of Princeton, a significant battle during the American Revolution. Drumthwacket is open most Wednesdays at 1:00 pm for guided public tours. Holiday Open Houses are also scheduled from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on specific dates during the holiday season. Drop in for an unguided tour and view the beautiful seasonal decorations throughout the residence.
More info: www.drumthwacket.org or call 609-683-0057
Emlen Physick Estate
Location: 1048 Washington Street, Cape May
Details: Visit the Emlen Physick Estate to get a glimpse into New Jersey’s Victorian past, as seen through its distinctive architecture and decorative arts. Emlen Physick Jr., along with his widowed mother and maiden aunt, moved into the house when it was completed in 1879. The stately grounds include Hill House, the Carriage House and the Carroll Gallery, which features different exhibits throughout the year. Special guided tours are offered just for children (accompanied by an adult). Families can also explore Physick Estate on a fun and educational scavenger hunt!
More info: www.capemaymac.org/emlenphysickestate.html or call 609-884-5404
Location: 3 Valley Road, Paterson
Details: Located on Garret Mountain overlooking Paterson, this beautiful estate resembles an old English castle. Catholina Lambert, an English immigrant who made his fortune in the silk industry, built the castle in the late 19th century. He housed his large collection of American and European art in the building, which received many prominent visitors. Lambert’s son Walter later sold the castle to the city of Paterson in 1925. Extensive renovations have taken place to restore the building to its former glory. Visitors can explore the museum via tours or drop in for their Holiday Boutique during the month of November.
More info: www.lambertcastle.org or call 973-247-0085
Liberty Hall Museum
Location: 1003 Morris Avenue, Union
Details: Liberty Hall was built in 1772 for William Livingston, New Jersey’s first elected governor and a signer of the Constitution. Originally designed as a 14-room Georgian-style home, it has since grown into a 50-room Victorian-style mansion. The museum is home to extensive and timeless collections of ceramics, textiles, toys, furniture and tools owned by seven generations of the Kean and Livingston families. They are open Monday through Saturday for tours, as well as special events such as afternoon tea and holiday activities.
More info: www.kean.edu/libertyhall or call 908-527-0400
Location: 2 Morris Road, Ringwood
Details: Designed in the mid-1920s by American architect John Russell Pope, this Tudor Revival mansion was made to appear centuries old. The building has a weathered stone facade and its slate roof contains ripples and sags. The dining room’s oak paneling comes from an English seacoast town and the breakfast room is lined with fine green Italian marble. Skylands Manor is located within the expansive New Jersey Botanical Garden. Guided tours of the manor house are offered on select Sundays throughout the year.
More info: www.njbg.org/skylandsmanor.shtml or call 973-962-9534