Learn About The History Of Plainfield NJ

A Bit of History in Plainfield

Scattered throughout all of Union County, New Jersey are many buildings that have stood the test of time. These are structures that have been around long enough to see the world at various time periods. Some have existed for hundreds of years, even since before the establishment of the United States of America. Many of the buildings were standing during the Revolutionary War. One such building, the Drake House, stands today at its original site in Plainfield, NJ.

Drake House Museum

The old house has seen many people pass through it's doors since it was built in 1746. However, it is the most famous guest and one of his visits that people still discuss today. George Washington spent time in the house as the Commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. It was told that he used the site as headquarters to meet with scouts and command the army during the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777. Apparently it was not the only time he stayed at the house. Washington and his officers visited the residence on other occasions and were entertained there when they were in the surrounding area on military business.

At the time of the Revolutionary War

The Drake house was owned by Nathaniel Drake. He lived there with his wife, Dorothy and their children: Sarah, Phebe, Abraham, Cornelius and Isaac. The family were all patriots and the sons all served in the militia.

The original farmhouse was built in 1746 by Isaac Drake, Nathaniel's father. He along with Nathaniel, and Isaac's other sons, Isaac and Samuel and their slaves, Tone, Tom and Ceser did the construction on the home. They built it in the typical farmhouse style of the time period, consisting of one and a half stories. Four rooms and a lean-to kitchen made up the first floor and the half story was a loft space.

Current day visitors

Current day visitors will remark there are distinct differences in the structure as it stands today. Those changes were made after the house was sold out of the Drake family in 1864. John S. Harberger, a New York businessman, bought the home. He made considerable updates to the building in the Victorian style. A complete second story was added. A new roof, dormers, projecting bays, kitchen stairs and the main stairwell were all added at that time. Later, in 1875 the tower, a new entrance and the turret tower were added.

In 1917 the home changed hands again. Harberger's family sold to Rosa and Siegmund Frucht. After rumors of anti-Allie groups occupying the house during WWI, the building was left abandoned.

Bertram F. Tallamy bought the home in 1920 and conveyed it to the West End Civic Association of Plainfield in 1921. The group saved the historic building from demolition. Later the group became the Historical Society of Plainfield and deeded the house to the city of Plainfield in order to establish it as a museum.

The Drake House stands a museum today

Boasting a collection of many artifacts, paintings and furnishings from the Colonial and Victorian periods. The building has been further renovated and it's security enhanced. The Historical Society of Plainfield welcomes visitors to enter the house and view the collections. The Drake House Museum is at 602 West Front Street, Plainfield, NJ 07060. The museum is open on Sundays between the hours of 2 - 4 or by appointment. Take the time to experience the history of the local area of Union County, New Jersey.