The Morristown Green
The Morristown Green is a keystone-shaped 2.62-acre park at the center of town and is one of only two greens in New Jersey to have survived until the present day; the other can be found in Newark. It began appearing on maps in 1715. Typical of a town with a Green, the buildings necessary to the community's everyday life were built around it. The first were the First Presbyterian Church and the First Baptist Church, where religious, social, and political events occurred. In addition, the courthouse and jail were here, plus two taverns where travelers could get lodging and meals. The townspeople pastured their livestock on the Green, and there was a well for people and animals.
Today it remains central to the town's life, hosting political and cultural events yearly. The privately-owned public park underwent a major renovation in 2007. At that time, historic signage was added to explain Green's history. If you take a stroll around, you will see these plaques as well as some important statues. There is the "Soldier at Rest," erected in 1871, the "Patriot's Farewell," erected in 2001, and "The Alliance," a statue of Washington, Hamilton, and Lafayette, erected in 2007.
Other places of note in and around the Green include the granite "E Pluribus Unum" medallion in the central plaza, the Liberty Flag Pole, the stone marker for the first courthouse, the time capsule, the Methodist Church, the Post Office, and the plaques that tell the stories of the Alexander Carmichael House and Continental Storehouse. Relax near the Patriot's Farewell fountain, the central plaza's puddingstone bench, or by the game tables.
(1779 Erskine Map)
The Revolutionary War Years
During the American Revolution, General George Washington lived at Arnold’s Tavern, originally located to your left on North Park Place, in the winter of 1777 and many of his generals visited him there. From the tavern, Washington could supervise his troops drilling on the Green which served as a military parade ground. That same winter, our two churches became hospitals for soldiers with smallpox.
(1819 Louisa Macculloch Map)
19th Century Green
After the American Revolution, Morristown began to grow in population and homes and businesses were built near the Green. The Green was the site of town celebrations and meetings. The Green, once owned by the First Presbyterian Church, was sold for $1,600 to a private group of thirteen trustees on April 1, 1816 who have maintained the park for the enjoyment of the public for over 200 years. In 1827 the courthouse and jail moved to Court Street.
(1830 Jail Limits Map)
Our Nation’s Guest
Well into the 19th century, there were periodic displays of military activity on the Green. This took the form of training exercises for militia groups, which used the Green as a marshaling point and sometimes as a parade ground. General Lafayette returned to Morristown and was honored here in 1825 when he toured as the “nation’s guest.” Note that roads intersected the Green until 1830. In October 1833 the Green was the site of the public hanging of Antoine LeBlanc, who committed a triple murder in Morris County.
(1850 Marcus Smith Map)
The Green Defined
By 1850 the Green had its borders defined into the keystone shape you see today with straight, diagonal paths and extensive tree plantings noted on the 1850 map. Homes, stores, inns and other commercial enterprises were built adjacent to the Green.
(1868 Beers Atlas Map)
20th Century to the Present
During the American Civil War, soldiers shipping out would muster on the Green before boarding trains to go off to fight. After the Civil War, the properties adjacent to the Green rose in value and businesses moved in. The Green was the scene of many celebrations and events including summer concerts, circus performances and political speeches. The Civil War monument, “Soldiers at Rest,” was added in 1871.
(Brinley Plan – 1908)
This statue, “The Alliance”, depicts a meeting which took place in Morristown at the nearby Ford Mansion on May 10, 1780. The Marquis e Lafayette had just arrived from France with news for General George Washington and aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton that the French would be supporting the American caused with funding, arms, ships and soldiers to defeat the British. These bronze life-sized statues conform to what is known about the three as they looked and dressed in 1780. Cast by E.I.S. Studios and dedicated on October 10, 2007 with musical performances and a flag-raising ceremony.
The original wooden church was built in 1738-40 on land donated by Benjamin Hathaway and John Lindsley. With two enlargements it appeared as shown at the time of the American Revolution. It became a small pox hospital in 1777-1778. Tradition states George Washington knew the church and received holy communion from it’s pastor, the Rev. Timothy Johnes, in his orchard behind his parsonage.
It's burial ground behind the church contains the graves of many patriots of the American Revolution.Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.
The Civil War Soldiers Monument was sculpted by Henry H. Davis from granite quarried in Massachusetts. IT was the first monument erected on the Green and was dedicated on July 4, 1871. It shows an eight-foot-tall soldier leaning on his rifle atop a 40-foot column. Prior to the Civil War, the tradition had been to memorialize officers only. After the Civil War, with mass recruitments and huge casualties, a strong sympathy for the common soldier developed and the new classic subject was the unnamed man of the rands. Battles carved in the monument are those in which New Jersey troops participated. The cannons are replicas. The garden features native, medicinal perennials and shrubs that would have been grown during the time of the Civil War.
General George Washington had this map of Morristown drawn by Colonel Robert Erskine in 1779. It shows the Green intersected by two roads. The Presbyterian Church is #1, the Courthouse and Jail are #2 and Arnold’s Tavern is #6. The 52-foot stone bench (at left) was created by a mason in 2007 from donations of local puddingstone. The central granite medallion is made of stone from the same quarry in Massachusetts as the Civil War Monument. The inscription translates to “out of many, one.”
The Alexander Carmichael House was located at what is now 42 S. Park Place, at the corner of South Street and the Green. IT was occupied by General Nathanael Greene in 1777. Aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton met there with a suspected spy. He had prepared an exaggerated Table of Strength of the Army to fool the British. Excusing himself for an errand, he left the document in the office. When he came back the Table of Strength was gone, as was the man, now confirmed as having been a double agent.
As a living memorial, this Norway spruce, Gold Star and bronze plaque were dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1946, in honor of those mothers who lost their sons and daughters in World War II.
Blue Stars were displayed by homes to indicate the number of family members who were serving in the Armed Forces. The Blue Star was replaced by a Gold Star for each member who died in the service of their country.
This tree was 22 feet tall in 1946 when the Gold Star was placed at it’s top. The tree has grown at a rate of one foot per year. The Gold Star remains lit in honor of all Gold Star mothers.
The Continental Store House was located on the southwest side of the Green. It was used to store supplies for the Continental Army during most of the American Revolution. Gunpowder made at The Ford Powder Mill on the Whippany River was made into cartridges located here at the Store House. It was also the site of two dancing assemblies for officers of the encamped Continental Army.