The latest update for this article is written by Lindsay Podolak.
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to live in an old mansion? Well, wonder no longer! Many of New Jersey’s sprawling estates are open to the public, offering guided tours and special events. We’ve rounded up six NJ mansions that welcome visitors. Spend an upcoming weekend this winter (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 sits 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, except during the holidays.
Why I like it: Students can use the Drumthwacket online student portal to play games, view the interactive map of New Jersey and learn more about New Jersey inventors.
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 for 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 and the Carriage House, as well as the Carroll Gallery, which features different exhibits throughout the year. Special guided tours are available just for children (accompanied by an adult). Families can also explore Physick Estate on a fun and educational scavenger hunt!
Why I like it: Are you into ghosts? The Emlen Physick Estate is known as Cape May’s original haunted house, with many spirits said to be roaming the halls.
More info: www.capemaymac.org 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. Housing his large collection of American and European art in the building, he often had many prominent visitors. Lambert’s son Walter later sold the castle to the city of Paterson in 1925. Since then, extensive renovations have taken place to restore the building to its former glory.
Why I like it: Members of the Passaic County Historical Society receive free admission; otherwise, adults pay just $5 and children ages 5-17 are $3.
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 also 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 Tuesday through Saturday for tours, as well as special events such as afternoon tea and holiday activities.
Why I like it: You won’t want to miss the museum’s rare 1796 Madeira wine collection. A staff member actually found the collection during a recent renovation.
More info: www.kean.edu or call 908-527-0400
Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood
Details: Ringwood Manor was the summer home to ironmasters Peter Cooper and Abram S. Hewitt and their families during the Gilded Age. The earliest construction of the house was in 1810, with its final phase finishing up in 1910. Inside you will find a neo-classical decor style paired with French decoration and furniture. In December, the estate is only open to the public during the Victorian Christmas weekends. It remains closed in January and February before opening again with limited hours in March. Then, from April to November, guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday at various times; call ahead to confirm availability.
Why I like it: Free, self-guided tours of the the estate’s carriage barn can be viewed every weekend from May to October from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
More info: www.ringwoodmanor.org or call 973-962-7031
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. Additionally, 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 also notably sits within the expansive New Jersey Botanical Garden. Guided tours of the manor house are available on select Sundays throughout the year.
Why I like it: After your tour of the Manor, visit the Botanical Garden which is free and open year-round.
More info: www.njbg.org or call 973-962-9534
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Christopher Wells/flickr
- Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
- Drumthwacket Foundation
- Facebook/Emlen Physick Estate
- Passaic County Historical Society
- Facebook/Liberty Hall Museum
- Ringwood Manor / Facebook
- Facebook/New Jersey State Botanical Garden at Skylands