Our Historic Houses
While several of the houses are closed, visitors are welcome to visit and use the exterior audio tours
About the House:
Welcome to the Covenhoven House! This historic 1752 Freehold, NJ, house was acquired by the Monmouth County Historical Association in 1966 and restored between 1968 and 1970. It is furnished to reflect a 1790 inventory from William Covenhoven’s estate, and includes many furnishings that a successful Monmouth County farm family might have had at that time. Interestingly, the back of the house now faces the street because when the house was erected the road was located several hundred feet from the opposite side of the structure. In the early 19th century, the road to Mount Holly was straightened, later becoming West Main Street (Route 537).
Covenhoven House, 1752
150 West Main Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
William and Elizabeth Covenhoven built their imposing new residence in an unusual combination of the latest English Georgian features and good Dutch traditions, fitting given that they were a fifth generation family from the Netherlands who settled originally in the New Amsterdam area. In June of 1778, the Covenhoven House had an unexpected, and important, visitor. On the way to New York City from Philadelphia, British General Henry Clinton occupied what must have been the finest house in Freehold for thirty-six hours leading up the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778). Mrs. Covenhoven took precautions to save some of her household goods. But General Clinton and his officers did much damage to the contents of the house, forcing the elderly Elizabeth to sleep in her milk room. After the war, the Covenhovens filed a claim for their losses with the State of New Jersey. Visitors to the house should ask their docent more about this story!
This house is under renovation and is currently closed to the public. Visitors are welcome to tour the exterior of the Covenhoven House using our curator-narrated audio tour !
Marlpit Hall, c. 1756
137 Kings Highway
Middletown, NJ 07748
Exhibit Open Fri-Sun from 1-4
About the House:
While four of the five historical houses owned by Monmouth County Historical Association have ties to Patriots of the American Revolution, this house represents the residence of a Loyalist family. Both the structure and the site are rich in historical significance. The property was laid out as lot number 36 in the original 1667 survey of Middletown village. Early owner James Grover Jr. erected the kitchen section of the structure in 1686, making it one of the oldest surviving structures in New Jersey. It was built in a salt-box shape with a large keeping room in front, and one or two smaller rooms behind. The house was greatly enlarged about 1762 into a center
hallway residence with grandly paneled rooms on either side. The original cottage became the kitchen, and its salt-box shape determined the roofline of the new section. Edward Taylor, a brother of John, took possession of Marlpit Hall in 1771. It remained in the hands of his descendants until 1930. The Georgian-style house, reflecting the lifestyle and taste of its occupants, is furnished with fine examples of 18th century furniture, many with histories of ownership in Middletown.
During a Kings Highway realignment project in 1919, Marlpit Hall was moved back roughly thirty feet due to the energetic efforts to preserve it by Miss Mary Holmes Taylor. But gradually the house fell into decay. In 1935, Marlpit Hall was purchased by Mrs. J. Amory Haskell, a pre-eminent collector of early American decorative arts who lived in Middletown. Mrs. Haskell had the house restored, and in 1936 presented it fully furnished to Monmouth County Historical Association, of which she was a principal patron. It became the first historic house museum in Monmouth County to open to the public. Marlpit Hall is a key property in the Middletown Village Historic District, which is listed on the New Jersey State and National Register of Historic Places. The house is also listed on the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail. The Taylor family later built the Taylor-Butler House next door in 1853. MCHA owns and operates both properties as a single campus.
Allen House, c. 1710
Historic Four Corners
400 Sycamore Avenue
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
About the Allen House:
This landmark structure sits at the northwest corner of the Historic Four Corners in Shrewsbury, sharing the intersection with Christ Church (1769), the Presbyterian Church (1821), Shrewsbury Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Meetinghouse (1816) and the Shrewsbury Historical Museum. MCHA has chosen to furnish the building as a tavern to reflect its 18th century reputation as the Blue Ball Tavern when it served as the very popular and “most noted tavern in Shrewsbury.” It also acted as the one of the community’s vital social institutions, serving at times as a court room where legal decisions were handed down by a visiting judge, town hall, post office, dance hall and gathering place.
The property where the house stands was first purchased around 1680 by a Quaker named Judah Allen. In 1754, Josiah Halstead bought the property and turned the existing dwelling on the site into the Blue Ball Tavern which operated for almost sixty years at that busy intersection. Over the years, several major improvements were made to the structure, including construction of an attached kitchen with a large brick fireplace, and conversion to the present gambrel roof so that the attic space could be turned into more usable rooms. The first floor provided a tap room where patrons could enjoy a drink, discuss local politics and engage in a card game by the fireplace. The second floor contained a large meeting room, and a smaller chamber that might have accommodated overnight patrons. The rich history of the Allen House includes, among other events, a Revolutionary War massacre (1779) and a visit from President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson (1916), who stopped in for goods during a period when the property acted as a local store.
Visitors are welcome to tour the exterior of the Allen House.
Taylor-Butler House, c. 1853
127 Kings Highway
Middletown, NJ 07748
About the House:
While four of the five historical houses owned by Monmouth County Historical Association have ties to the Revolutionary War, this house represents the Civil War era. Joseph Dorset Taylor and Mary Holmes Taylor, first cousins and proud descendants of the Taylors of Middletown, decided to move back to Middletown and build an imposing new house on an inherited family farm (one including Marlpit Hall). The outcome was a restrained Italianate residence, named “Orchard Home” but now called the Taylor-Butler House, built in 1853. It reflected the success that Joseph Taylor had achieved as a merchant in the China Trade. They furnished their new home with items from China mixed with Taylor family heirlooms.
The house, with its broad stair hall, spacious rooms, high ceilings, and exceptional architectural detailing, was an elegant testimony to the family’s traditions and to mid-19th century taste. At the time of its construction, the Taylor-Butler House was considered the grandest house in Middletown, a distinction it richly deserved. After the death of the last Mary Holmes Taylor in 1930, Orchard Home stood vacant for ten years.
The Kramer family purchased the home in 1941 and installed modern plumbing, electricity, and a hot water heating system but otherwise left the structure’s architectural character largely alone. In 1954, George and Alice Butler – noted for their community involvement and hospitality – took possession of this gracious home. The Monmouth County Historical Association acquired this historic site and five acres in 1999 from the estate of George Butler. Today, the house serves as a gallery space to showcase MCHA’s extensive art collection, with a special nod to artists from the immediate area. In addition, the Taylor-Butler House is available to rent for weddings, gatherings, parties, and other special events. Together, the two Taylor houses – Taylor-Butler and Marlpit Hall – offer a unique historical and cultural resource to benefit the Middletown community and Monmouth County at large.
Visitors are welcome to tour the exteriors and campus of Taylor-Butler House. The audio tour will be coming soon!
Property of the Monmouth County Park System
62 Longstreet Rd.
Holmdel, NJ 07733
About Holmes-Hendrickson House:
This uniquely well-preserved structure with wide flaring eaves is set in the Pleasant Valley section of Holmdel, NJ, abutting Holmdel Park & Historic Longstreet Farm. Built in 1754, it is a combination of Georgian and Dutch vernacular architecture that borrowed elements from both Dutch and English cultures. William Holmes, the youngest son of Jonathan Holmes and Teuntje Hendrickson, purchased the land from his parents in 1752. His first cousin Garret Hendrickson then bought the property in 1756 with all of its improvements. Hendrickson operated a successful mixed-use farm where he grew crops, raised livestock including sheep for wool, and planted flax to produce linen.
Originally, the house stood just over a mile from its current location. In 1929, Bell Telephone Laboratories acquired the farm to establish a communications test site. Afterward, the house, never equipped with plumbing, electricity, or central heating, was used occasionally for storage. In 1959, Bell Labs began planning for the construction of a large new office building designed by legendary architect Eero Saarinen, now an important landmark in its own right. MCHA acquired the house and moved it to a small lot donated for the purpose. Visitors should ask their house docent for more details on the move itself! After several years of restoration, the Holmes-Hendrickson House was opened to the public in 1965. Today, the house stands in the same orientation to the sun as in its original location. Should Garret Hendrickson, who died in 1801, visit his home again, he would surely recognize it immediately.
The house is currently closed for the winter but will reopen for Wool Days in the spring! You are welcome to tour the exterior of Holmes-Hendrickson House. Stay tuned for the upcoming audio tour!