HomePrinceton PacketMorven Museum & Garden reopens after latest restoration project

Morven Museum & Garden reopens after latest restoration project

Morven Museum has reopened its doors after the main gallery floors were restored.

The museum was temporarily closed Jan. 24 through Feb. 15. On Feb. 16, the museum once again reopened to the public.

The restoring of the floors is the third part of a much bigger preservation project, which has been occurring at Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton St., Princeton.

“In January of 2019, a shutter fell off the building and thank goodness it was cold and windy and no one was outside or injured,” said Jill Barry, executive director of the Morven Museum & Garden. “We took down some shutters immediately that were at risk and when the weather broke we did a complete survey of the building. We realized that we have a lot to do.”

The first step was stabilizing the windows and shutters.

“We did that a one-and-a-half years ago essentially. This past summer we were doing fascia and rakes, the porches and some columns needed to be replaced. The exterior restorations involved replacing woodwork, windows,” she added.

The exterior restorations from around August 2020 into 2022 have included the repairing and rebuilding of the exterior bluestone and brick steps outside the museum’s Garden Room; and also the repairing and rebuilding of the front porch of the museum.

“This current leg was redoing the floors. All of this is helping us get ready for two big anniversaries we have coming up,” Barry said.

In 2024, Morven Museum & Garden will celebrate its 20th anniversary of being open as a museum to the public. The second anniversary referenced was for 2026, as the year will mark the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

“We want to make sure that we are absolutely in good shape for hopefully a wonderful influx of visitors,” Barry said.

Restorations still left include upgrading lighting for energy efficiency.

“We have done some of that, but there is a little bit left. We also have interior storm windows,” she said. “Again, being a historical landmark, we just can’t screw things onto windows, we have to be very careful with how things are treated. That is what we are working on now.”

Most of the preservation projects were covered by grants funds from Save America’s Treasures grant program administered by the National Park Service, a bureau of the Department of Interior, and a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Save America’s Treasures grant was in the amount of $210,000. Barry did not state a specific number for the amount received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, but said, “The grant was larger than the Save America’s Treasures grant program funds that were administered.”

For Phase 1 of the restoration project repairing the windows and shutters, grant funds were also provided by the New Jersey Historic Trust, the Preserve New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund, along with the sponsorship of the Princeton chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

A grant from the General Society of Colonials Wars was also received by the museum which would be used for exterior work, such as porches, doors and exterior trim.

“The restoration projects are hugely important to do right now and our building is the largest part of our collection. It is the most important thing we have,” Barry said. “The building was built by Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but also was the home of Robert Wood Johnson and the home of five governors. Our sole mission is to care for this site and building in the best possible way.”

Stockton built Morven in 1754. The Stockton family would reside at Morven until Robert Wood Johnson Jr. leased the house in 1928.

Following Johnson Jr., the home would become the residence for five New Jersey governors who included Walter Edge, Robert Meyner and William Cahill.

Morven Museum & Garden is fully open for visitation Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and provides programs both in person and virtually.

For more information about Morven Museum & Garden, visit www.morven.org. 

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