This entry includes a virtual tour! Take the tour.
Victorian culture was a central aspect of many small towns in 19th-century Northern New Jersey, and Acorn Hall in Morristown accurately represents the lifestyles and designs of the upper-middle class during that time period. Serving as the headquarters for the Morris County Historical Society, Acorn Hall transports visitors back to the mid-1800s, where they can explore the various rooms and decorations associated with the Schermerhorn, Crane, and Crane-Hone families, who inhabited the house from 1853-1857 and 1860-1970s. As a historic, Victorian Italianate building complete with authentic furnishings and time-period pieces, Acorn Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places as well as the New Jersey State Register. Because of its role in preserving the woman’s suffrage movement in the 19th century, Acorn Hall is also part of the NJ Women's History Trail.
Backstory and Context
Acorn Hall dates back to 1853, when the New York Schermerhorn family contracted the build of a Georgian Foursquare. The Schermerhorns didn’t live there long, however, and sold the home to Augustus and Mary Crane in 1857. Over the course of three years, the house was transformed into an Italianate-style home.
From 1860 and onwards, four generations of the Crane and Crane-Hone families owned the mansion, with Mary Crane Hone donating the home to the Historical Society in 1971. As part of the donation, she also gave six of the original nine-acre property.
The home acquired its name due to the large, two-centuries-old oak tree that formerly stood on the property. An oak tree sapling has since been donated by the only surviving charter member of the Morris County Historical Society and has been planted on the property where the original oak tree once stood. The mansion still contains most of its original furnishings and interior design, which showcases the characteristics and styles associated with an upper-middle-class lifestyle. In fact, many of the furnishings, carpets, wall coverings, and decorative paint techniques remain exactly the same as they were in the 19th century.
Museum visitors can tour through period-accurate rooms, each of which the Historical Society has interpreted contextually, alongside two extra gallery rooms which feature the Society's ever-changing exhibits relating different aspects of Morris County history.
Exhibits and Collection
In addition to the historic furniture and interior design, Acorn Hall’s collection stands in high acclaim. The Morris County Historical Society manages, preserves, and displays its collection, and welcomes donations pertaining to local culture.
The Historical Society rotates its exhibits to highlight the depth and variety of its ever-growing collection. Collection pieces are constantly switched out and displayed throughout the museum's period rooms and galleries. Some exhibits also showcase important historical events that took place in Morris County and around the world. Items constantly in rotation include pieces from the Society's extensive textile collection (1800s-1980s); photographs, documents, letters, and ephemera from the Society's archives; and thousands of other incredible pieces taken out for specific exhibits.
Throughout the year, the Morris County Historical Society hosts a variety of special events and programs. As an example, some of the programs featured have included, "Up in Smoke: Northern NJ's Worst Man-made Disasters, 1910-1989," "Iconic Culture: From Little Black Dress to Bell Bottoms," "Candlelit Christmas," “The Women’s Suffrage Movement in NJ,” “The Conflict, the County, & the Citizens: Morris County in the Civil War,” and “Behind Closed Doors: Health, Hygiene, and Sexuality Among the Victorians.”
Lectures & Education
In addition to organizing exhibits and maintaining its vast collections, the Morris County Historical Society offers lectures and events throughout the year on a variety of topics. Lectures have taken place both in-person and virtually and can always be found online on the Society's event calendar. Past lectures have included: "History Lunch Break: Morristown durante la Revolución Americana," "History Lunch Break: From Royals to Robots," "Of Milkweeds and Monarchs," "By Hand and By Horse," and "Cut From a Different Cloth."
For those with burning questions related to Morris County history, the Society offers the opportunity to send in research requests. The contact form to do so can be found online on the Society's website.
, Morris County Historical Society. Visit Acorn Hall. Accessed April 29th 2021. https://morriscountyhistory.org/visit-acorn-hall/.
Visions by Manfred. Photographer: Manfred Saul
Visions by Manfred. Photographer: Manfred Saul