Acorn Hall History

Acorn Hall was built in 1853 for John and Louise Schermerhorn of New York City. A modest Foursquare then known as “Schermerhorn Place,” the building had a main central hallway and four similarly sized rooms on the first and second floors. Not long after moving into their new home, however, tragedy struck the Schermerhorn family and John returned to NYC a widower.

Augustus and Mary Elizabeth Crane purchased the Morristown residence and some of the furnishings for $11,000 in 1857, transforming it in 1860 into the much larger, Italianate-styled country home that Acorn Hall is today. They 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 three surviving children inherited the Hall in 1913. Over the next few years, their daughter, Julia, and her husband,Dr. J. Leonard Corning, split their time between Morristown and NYC. Her brother, Augustus Jr., an unmarried bachelor, also spent an increasing amount of time at their childhood home, retiring to the Hall with Julia after her husband’s death. Surviving her brother, 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 the carriage house was restored in 2022. Efforts are currently underway to restore the rest of the property to its true 19th-century country aesthetic. These preserved resources provide MCHS an inspiring opportunity to interpret the history of Civil War-era Morristown.

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