Mansions of Interest
Landed gentry and merchant princes alike have built dozens of spectacular mansions in New Jersey over the past 250 years. Many of these storied structures remain strictly private, but several others now welcome the public. Here are some of the best.
Lambert Castle, Paterson: Textile magnate Catholina Lambert not only financed the construction of this grand mansion, he also helped design the building to look like castles he remembered from his childhood in Yorkshire, England. Completed in 1892 and restored in 2000, the building now houses a museum and the headquarters of the Passaic County Historical Society.
Liberty Hall, Union: Built in 1772 by New Jersey Governor William Livingston, the house remained in the Livingston-Kean family for more than two centuries. The original structure, with its paltry 14 rooms, underwent several expansions and alterations by the politically prominent Keans, who made it a museum in the late 1970s.
Skylands Manor, Ringwood: Financier Clarence McKenzie Lewis selected a site with spectacular views and, in 1924, hired renowned architect John Russell Pope to build a magnificent Tutor house. The surrounding gardens, designed to be the finest in the nation, now serve as the New Jersey State Botanical Garden.
Gould Mansion, Lakewood: Designed as a summer retreat for the son of railroad tycoon Jay Gould, this unusual mansion combines Scottish style with local construction materials. The building, which was sold to the Sisters of Mercy in 1923, is now part of Georgian Court University.
The Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May: The estate was built in 1879 as a private residence for Dr. Emlen Physick and his family. The 18-room mansion is now Cape May's only Victorian house museum and is administered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts. Entertaining and educational guided tours of the Estate run year-round.
Natirar, Peapack/Gladstone: Built for the whaling heiress Kate Macy Ladd, this mansion was bought by the King of Morocco to house his sons while they attended Princeton University. The estate is now a Somerset County park, but the mansion, open to the public for the first time in its history features a restaurant.
Hollybush, Glassboro: This Italian-style villa dates to 1850. It originally housed a wealthy glassmaker named Thomas Whitney but is more famous for housing a 1967 summit between President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin. Rowan University has been restoring it since 2003.
Drumthwacket: When in the Ivy-league town of Princeton, explore Drumthwacket, the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey. In fact, Drumthwacket is one of the most fabled and elegant of America's executive residences. Its history contains the stories of three unique families that made immense contributions to New Jersey and American history. Charles Smith Olden began the construction of Drumthwacket in 1835. Typical of the Greek Revival style, the house features a large portico with six Ionic columns. Drumthwacket is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been the official governor's residence since the late 1980s.