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Washington Association of New Jersey Operations – 1874-1933

After their purchase of Washington' s Headquarters, the four founders sought unsuccessfully to have the state of New Jersey assume ownership of the historic site. They therefore formed the Association as a stock-holding corporation dedicated to the preservation of the residence. When the Washington Association took over the Mansion in 1874, much of it needed to be repaired and furnished, and a new roof and added utilities were necessary. The kitchen wing was closed to visitors initially as it was used for the caretaker' s apartment. The Trustees embarked on a vigorous campaign to obtain donations of furniture and Revolutionary-period artifacts to build a museum collection. The newspapers were used to solicit gifts and loans; additions were made by the legislature as well.

Fireplace in Kitchen, Washington's Headquarters, Morristown, NJ. ca. 1903

 

During the 1920s, the Washington Association began to experience financial difficulties. Though the automobile helped raise attendance nearly three times between 1920 and 1930 at Headquarters, the increased visitations strained the Association' s finances. No admission was, or could, by the charter, be charged, while employee hours, salaries, and maintenance costs increased.

By 1931, there was interest in having a National Historical Park in Morristown, and, by the end of 1932, the Association Trustees supported the idea of adding the Headquarters to the proposed Parks. The legislation to accept the Washington Association properties, along with Jockey Hollow and Fort Nonsense lands, was signed by Herbert Hoover on March 3, 1933. On July 4, 1933, the Washington Association with the Town of Morristown held an impressive ceremony in which deeds were formally turned over the United States representative, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, forming the first national historical park.