The historic Ford Mansion, which closed last October for the installation of a fire suppression system, has reopened. The first part of the project is complete, and all of the necessary hardware, pipes and sprinkler heads are now in the house. The second phase of the project involves installing a new waterline to the house; that work is ongoing with a targeted completion date of late this fall.
The Ford Mansion, built between 1772 and 1774, is located on Morris Avenue in Morristown, and was residence to one of New Jersey's prominent colonial families - Jacob and Theodosia Ford. The house served as George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters from December 1779 to June 1780 during the Jockey Hollow winter encampment.
To prepare for the installation project, the park’s curatorial staff removed the majority of the Ford Mansion’s furnishings and decorative arts pieces. The staff has now refurnished about 50 percent of the house. As they continue to refurnish the Ford Mansion, visitors on tour of the house throughout the summer will be able to observe a historic preservation and interpretive improvement project in progress. In addition to the installation of the fire suppression system, work in the house included the staff removing the 1990s wall-to-wall carpeting that was in the main halls and stairwells. The wood floors underneath are now reveled and this allows for a greater understanding by visitors of what the house might have looked like in the late 1700s. In place of the carpeting, the staff laid down clear plastic matting to protect the floors.
For two critical winters of the American Revolution, 1777-1778 and 1779-80, General George Washington chose the Morristown area as the Continental Army's main winter encampment. Because of its strategic location, the area continually served as the military capital throughout the war. During the 1779-1780 Jockey Hollow encampment, over 10,000 soldiers endured the war's most severe winter.