Acorn Hall History

Acorn Hall was built in 1853 for John and Louise Schermerhorn of New York City. A basic Georgian Foursquare, the building had a main central hallway and four identically-shaped rooms on the first and second floors. Not long after their arrival in Morristown, however, tragedy struck the Schermerhorn Family and John returned to NYC a widower.

Augustus Crane purchased Acorn Hall fully furnished for $11,000 in 1857 and spent almost three years turning the Georgian Foursquare into the much larger and Italianate-styled county home that Acorn Hall is today. By 1860 Crane, his wife Mary Elizabeth, and their four children, Mary, Julia, Augustus Jr., and Benjamin, took residence, and Crane began his life as a “Gentleman Farmer,” planting some of his nine-acre property in seasonal vegetables and a mixed fruit orchard.

Their daughter, Julia, and her husband, Dr. James Leonard Corning, inherited the Hall in 1913. While Julia and Dr. Corning used it as their primary residence, the couple was away from the Hall for long periods. Her brother, Augustus Jr., an unmarried bachelor, also resided at the Hall during this time. Following the passing of Dr. Corning in 1923 and Augustus Jr. in 1932, Julia left Acorn Hall to her nephew, Augustus Crane Hone, at her passing in 1935. Directly after taking ownership, Augustus and his wife, Alice, gave the Hall its first and only modernization, which included a new heating system, electricity, and indoor plumbing.

Augustus Crane Hone passed away in 1939; Alice followed in 1949. Their daughter, Mary Crane Hone, recognized the historic significance of Acorn Hall and its interiors, which were largely as her great-grandfather had left them. Childless, she searched for a new owner who would preserve her family’s ancestral home.

In 1968, Morris County Historical Society agreed to take Acorn Hall and operate it as a museum, according to Mary’s wishes. The formal transfer of ownership was completed in 1971 and Acorn Hall began the evolution from house to historic house museum. The formal documentation of contents including furniture, fine and decorative arts, archival materials, and clothing as well as initial restorations took several years. By 1973, Acorn Hall was open to the public.

In 2018, Acorn Hall’s exterior was restored to accurately represent its 1860-1880 appearance, and efforts are currently underway to restore the rest of the property, including carriage house and grounds, to its true 19th-century country aesthetic. These preserved resources provide MCHS an inspiring opportunity to interpret the post-Revolutionary to Pre-Civil War history of Morristown.

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