For your Fourth of July celebration, maybe you’d like to go really old-school, as in colonial old-school. If so, you’re in luck! New Jersey is full of historic sites dating back to colonial times and many of these spots hold special celebrations to commemorate our nation’s Independence. So if you’d like a little history with your revelry, grab your tricorn hat and head out to one of these great historic July 4th events.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
Location: 73 Kahdena Road, Morris Township
Fees: Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children, $2 for kids ages 2-3 and free for children under 2
Details: The property has been a working farm since 1760. It was once owned by General Joseph Warren Revere, grandson of Paul Revere. Its last owner, Caroline Foster, donated it to the Morris County Park Commission for preservation. Today, the property offers visitors a firsthand look at what farm life was like from 1880 to 1930. The foundation of the farmhouse dates back to colonial times (the house itself burned down in the 20th century and was rebuilt). General Henry Knox, who served in the Continental Army and was later the first U.S. Secretary of War, is said to have lived in the house from 1779 to 1780, during the army’s encampment in Morristown.
What’s happening: Head to Fosterfields Living Historical Farm on July 8 for a special tour of The Willows, with the Curator as your guide; then view the exhibit Call of Duty: Patriotism During World War I. If you’re feeling inspired, you can even create a patriotic craft to take home.
More info: Call 973-326-7645 or visit their website
Historic Cold Spring Village
Location: 720 Route 9 South, Cape May
Fees: Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for children 3-12 and free for kids under 3
Details: The village, an open-air living history museum, re-creates everyday life in South Jersey from 1789 to 1840, with a farm that grows heritage crops and interpreters in period clothing who explain what the lives and concerns were of people who lived at that time. Nearly all the buildings on site come from locations around Cape May and Cumberland counties. There are blacksmith, woodworking and bookbinding demonstrations, as well as horse and wagon rides on weekends. Period-style crafts are also available in the country store.
What’s happening: On June 30 and July 1, the village’s Independence Day Celebration will take place. Enjoy patriotic activities, music and programs while touring the Village’s historic buildings.
More info: Call 609-898-2300 or visit their website
Historic Longstreet Farm
Location: 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel
Fees: Admission is free
Details: This preserved living history farm uses costumed interpretive staff to show visitors what Monmouth County farming life was like in the 1890s. The animals on the farm maintain their original purpose – plowing the fields and providing milk, eggs and wool. Year-round activities include blacksmithing, wood stove cooking, rug hooking and quilting. Visitors can also stop by Holmes-Hendrickson House to get a glimpse of colonial life at this historic museum.
What’s happening: On July 4, Historic Longstreet Farm is hosting an Independence Day Celebration from 12:00 to 3:00 pm. Visitors will celebrate the holiday by participating in patriotic games and contests popular in the 1890s.
More info: Call 732-946-3758 or visit their website
Location: 30 Washington Place, Morristown
Fees: All events are free
Details: Morristown National Historical Park, the first such park in the nation, is the site of the Continental Army’s winter encampment in 1779-1780. The park’s Ford Mansion also served as Washington’s military headquarters. Among the statues on the Green is “The Alliance,” showing George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette, in honor of their 1780 meeting in Morristown.
What’s happening: Morristown is holding its annual Revolutionary Times celebration. On July 4, there will be patriotic songs, a reading of the Declaration, a tour of the 1718 Whippany Burying Yard and more.
More info: Call 973-631-5151 or visit their website
Morven Museum & Garden
Location: 55 Stockton Street, Princeton
Fees: Admission is free (Please note that this event will be cancelled in case of bad weather.)
Details: The mansion was originally built in the 1750s by Richard Stockton, one of the five New Jersey delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. His wife Annis, one of the country’s first published female poets, wrote about George Washington and other Revolutionary figures. The mansion, where the Stockton family lived until the 20th century, eventually became the state’s first governor’s mansion, and was home to five governors from 1945 to 1981. It later reopened as an art and history museum in 2004.
What’s happening: Every year, Morven Museum hosts a July 4th Jubilee in honor of Richard Stockton. This year’s event features the Ocean Country Band performing live bluegrass music, food trucks and family activities; in addition, there will be demonstrations of early American arts such as ice cream making, gunsmithing and papermaking. Kids can also “sign” the Declaration of Independence.
More info: Call 609-924-8144 or visit their website
Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood
Fees: Admission is free and parking is $5 per car
Details: This site was home to the Ringwood Ironworks, later known as the American Iron Company; they helped supply the Continental Army with iron for equipment and tools during the Revolutionary War. It was part of a military supply route from Morristown to West Point. The company’s iron master, Robert Erskine, served as General Washington’s map maker. The Manor building, which eventually became a summer estate, was added in the 1800s and the iron mines and forges on the property continued to operate through the 19th century – they also supplied gunmetal to the Union Army during the Civil War.
What’s happening: On July 4, Independence Day will be celebrated with colonial-style games, crafts and dances, as well as the chance to practice a “drill” with the militia and 18th-century foods, plus free watermelon for all. Visitors can sign their own “declaration,” then watch a horse and rider appear to deliver the official Declaration of Independence, which is read aloud from the front steps of the Manor house at 2:30 p.m.
More info: Call 973-962-7031 or visit their website