UNION, N.J. -- The pre-Revolutionary War mansion that was home to
New Jersey's first elected governor, William Livingston, and seven
generations of the state's politically prominent Kean family, was
set to open May 6 as a museum.
Liberty Hall, built in 1772 with 14 rooms, grew during two
centuries to more than 60 rooms, according to Stewart B. Kean,
president of the museum's board of trustees and part of the last
generation of the family to grow up there. He is a cousin of former
New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, who served from 1982 to 1990.
The 25-acre estate lies in the center of this older suburb.
It is also a half-hour's drive (about 20 miles) from
Washington's Headquarters in Morristown, the mansion at which the
general and his wife spent two winters during the Revolutionary
War, and Jockey Hollow, the site of the colonial troops' winter
encampment. Both are open to the public, and visitors could cover
all three sites in one day.
For directions to Washington's Headquarters and Jockey Hollow,
call the Morris County Heritage Commission at (973) 829-8117.
A National Historic Site, Liberty Hall has hosted many famous
George and Martha Washington slept there. Alexander Hamilton;
the Marquis de Lafayette, and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore
Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford and George Bush all
made the guest list.
The museum's mission is to chronicle the period from 1772 to
1995, when Stewart Kean's mother, Mary Alice, died, leaving behind
a request that the home be turned into a museum.
Each room has been fitted to represent a generation, according
As with many historic sites, Liberty Hall is said to have a
ghost. The rumors date from 1780, when British soldiers, having
killed a parson's wife, Hannah Caldwell, invaded the house.
The Kean women huddled upstairs. When one of them, holding a
candle, appeared on the landing, the redcoats believed they were
witnessing a specter of the slain woman and fled, according to a
Liberty Hall is open for tours Wednesdays through Sundays, 10
a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $5; $4 for seniors, and $3 for students. Children
ages 5 and younger are admitted free of charge.
Phone: (908) 527-0400