by Erin Feith, Research Assistant
June 20, 2023
With travelers attracted by its fresh air and rural surroundings, Morristown could boast of a burgeoning hotel industry by the 19th century, of which the Mansion House, situated on Washington Street, became one of the most prominent. Throughout its existence, the Mansion House catered to the needs of visitors and residents alike, functioning as both a vacation spot and community hub.
Constructed in the early 19th century, the Mansion House was opened as a hotel on property initially owned by Thomas and William Gibbons of Mead Hall (today a part of Drew University). Subsequently operated by other well-known local names, the establishment was sold to B.C. Guerin in 1864. Under his ownership, the Mansion House gained national attention, which only increased when he renovated the hotel in 1878. Transforming the wooden structure into one of pressed brick, Guerin added every luxury of the day: all sixty rooms contained hardwood floors, steam heat, gas-powered lighting and electrical bells, which were supplemented by multiple dining rooms, common areas and a two-story piazza.
In addition to hosting visitors to Morristown, the Mansion House also served as a gathering place for local residents. It regularly hosted dances for townspeople and was the location of weekly music lessons for area youths. It was even the site of a reception for 300 local guests held by NJ Governor James Fielder in 1913.
By the early 20th century, the Mansion House building had been converted to other businesses, with the final one, Sears, Roebuck & Company, being indicative of the shift from small enterprises to department stores. In 1940, the building was demolished and the site’s address changed from Washington Street to Schuyler Place. However, during its time, the place of prominence that the Mansion House occupied both nationally and locally was never vacant.