- Kathy Fisher, President
- Benjamin Zabel, Treasurer
Meetings: Second Monday of each month, 7:30 PM, Montville Township Senior House. No meetings in July, August and December.
Montville Township Museum: 6 Taylortown Road, Montville NJ 07045. Open Sundays 1 - 4 PM except July & August.
Located on Taylortown Road just down the street from Route 202 is a red brick building with a sign out front proclaiming it the "Montville Township Historical Museum". Within its walls are articles, pictures, tapes, and memories that will carry you back through the years to times long past.
The building was constructed following the Civil War, in the year 1867. It was one of the first one-room schools in the area. The land was donated by the eastern district superintendent of the then-thriving Morris Canal, one of the many waterways then in existence to help promote trade and travel in America.
William Hixson gave the land to the town for public purposes, with the stipulation that it could be reclaimed if used for a purpose with which his family disagreed.
The building began serving Montville as a one-room school heated by a potbellied stove. It also served as an auxiliary to the local Methodist Church. It became the gathering place for the local temperance league in the 1890s, and was the scene of many temperance meetings in the town.
Forty-four years after being erected, it changed from a school to the center of political activities as the town hall. It was the town hall until 1939, when it became the town's post office. It served as such until 1961, when a post office was constructed close by (Taylortown Rd. & Route 202).
After the postmen moved out of the building, the township considered selling the property to a business concern but the original Hixson agreement was recalled, and the building remained unused - until the celebration of New Jersey's 300th Anniversary. At that time, a Tercentenary committee was founded in the Township to help celebrate the anniversary and the Committee decided to make the establishment of a museum its main project. Armed with donations from local residents, committee members renovated the building and reopened it in 1963 as a museum.
Today, as you enter the museum, you walk into an entrance foyer. Probably once used to hold the boots and coats of school children, it is now an entrance hallway. The door to the main room is to the left, and upon entering, you step into history.
Specific items on display in the museum include antique farm tools, a magic lantern, a candle snuffer, wooden butter ladle, foot warmer (for winter wagon rides and meetings in unheated buildings), oil lamp, an American flag made when the United States consisted of 39 States; a bedspread, hand sewn in 1824, "candlewicked" in design; ledgers of the town doctor proclaiming bills for services - "Visit and Sundries ... 88¢", and a three foot barrel hollowed from a tree trunk- said to be one of the two existing in the state.
An organ stands in a corner, thought to have been used in the First Dutch Reformed Church before 1880. In the adjacent corner, stands a grandfather clock, hand built in the 1700s as proven by the fact that Australia is designated "New Holland" as it was known in the 1700's on the clock's face. The exhibit includes the winding stairway and the mantle piece from the Hanie House on Hook Mountain Road, which was demolished in 1965 to make way for Route 80. Also on display are a collection of local minerals, two spinning wheels, old chairs and dishes, a mahogany baby cradle dating back to the 1700s, Indian arrowheads and a tomahawk.
Photographs of the Morris Canal, early township residents and almost every historic home in Montville line the walls, with a slide presentation and accompanying tape available to tell their histories. A miniature model of a Morris Canal "Plane" with canal boat and cradle are also on display.
The museum has a file of township homes over 100 years old. Also on tap are documents, records, maps, post cards, books, artifacts and costumes reflecting the town's history.
A cannonball from the Civil War and found in the township can be seen in the display case. Also an antique ribbon case used to display colorful ribbons in Mair Fogelson's General Store (which used to be near the Columbia Inn on Route 202) can be seen.
All these museum items stir thoughts of what it must have been like to live a century ago.
If you can not make the scheduled visiting hours from 1 to 4 PM on Sunday, you can schedule an appointment by calling (973) 334-3665 or (973) 394-0554.
The Museum is a wonderful way to spend a few hours in thoughts of life as it must have been long ago.
The history of Montville Township is available to anyone interested enough to note a phone number or keep a Sunday afternoon free.