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About the Washington Association of New Jersey

The Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ) was founded to acquire and preserve Washington’s Headquarters at the Jacob Ford Mansion. It was chartered by the New Jersey legislature in 1874 and is the not-for-profit advisory and fundraising body for the Morristown National Historical Park (MNHP). The main structure in the park is the Jacob Ford Mansion, where Washington headquartered in the winter of 1779-1780. In 1933, the WANJ conveyed the headquarters, Jockey Hollow and Fort Nonsense to the federal government, and Congress established the MNHP as the country’s first national historical park. John Russell Pope (architect of the National Gallery of Art and the Jefferson Memorial) was commissioned to design a museum building, which was erected in 1935.

The Washington Association of New Jersey (WANJ) is one of the oldest historic preservation organizations in the nation. The objects of this Association are:

(1) To act with the National Park Service in the preservation of the property known as Washington's Headquarters, in Morristown, as a memorial to George Washington, and commemorative of his associate officers, and the heroism and fortitude with which the Continental Troops withstood the severe hardships and suffering of the winters of 1777 and 1779-1780 while encamped in and about Morristown.

(2) To engage and assist in the collection and preservation of papers, documents, paintings, relics, books and objects of interest connected with the Revolutionary War.

(3) To engage in such other activities as may be deemed desirable and proper for the purpose of perpetuating the memory of George Washington and those who were associated with him in the Revolution and the founding of the Republic.

(4) To raise funds sufficient to carry out the above purposes.

 

george washington

Jean Keib Gerome Ferris, Washington's March Through the Jerseys, ca.1906
Oil on canvas. Private Collection

 

Preserving Washington’s “Revolutionary” Legacy

The Washington Association of New Jersey is the not-for-profit and Congressionally legislated advisory body for Morristown National Historical Park. The Park’s primary historic site is the Jacob Ford, Jr. mansion, which served as George Washington’s military headquarters during the Continental Army’s 1779-80 encampment in Morristown.

The contribution of Washington’s Morristown Headquarters to the success of the American Revolution was underscored by a group of prominent men, “the founding four”, who purchased the mansion from Ford’s descendants at an auction in 1873. On March 20, 1874, to oversee the preservation and maintenance of the site, the Washington Association of New Jersey was incorporated. The following July, the Association’s newly created charter and By-laws established that the house be open to the public.

In the following 29 years, the Washington Association amassed a vast collection of paintings, historical prints, maps, books, documents, manuscripts, furniture, costumes, and other artifacts. Now numbering in the hundreds of thousands, barely 1% have ever been seen by the public.

 

The First National Historical Park

In early 1933, the Trustees of the Washington Association decided to convey the Headquarters, the Jockey Hollow Encampment, Fort Nonsense, and its numerous collections to the federal government. On March 3,1933, President Hoover signed legislation to establish the Morristown National Historical Park, the first national historical park in the nation. America’s most famous museum architect of the period, John Russell Pope, (whose projects include the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, and the Jefferson Memorial), was chosen to design a new museum building. However, Pope’s 1935 concept was not fully realized due to financial constraints caused by the Great Depression.

3/2/32 President Hoover established the Morristown National Historical Park as the first National Historical Park.