Morristown Green

On July 4, 2016, Morristown celebrates the 200-year Anniversary of The Morristown Green, deeded to Trustees of the Green by The Presbyterian Church in Morristown in 1816. 

Early History of The Green

According to the minutes of the Presbyterian Church trustees of June 7, 1770, the trustees gave a deed ”for one acre of land on which the courthouse standeth to three magistrates and the freeholders of the county of Morris.”  At that time the courthouse, jail and pillory were situated on land that was approximately in the middle of what is now The Green. The deed, which was conveyed to the county for the sum of five pounds sterling, specified that “if the courthouse aforesaid be removed to any other place this indenture is void,” and title was to revert to Henry Primrose. The present courthouse was built in 1827. 

According to The Register, there seems to have been a dispute about the ownership of the land which was to become The Green. On April 25, 1812, the church trustees voted to send a surveyor, Edward Condict, to the annual meeting of the Board of Proprietors at Perth Amboy to settle the church’s claim to the land in the name of the Trustees, for the express purpose of a Green or Commons. On September 14, 1813, Mr. Condict conveyed to the Trustees of the church the deed to this land. 

“About 1816 the project of inclosing the remainder of the land now embraced in the park for the purposes of a common was mooted. It was owned by the First Presbyterian Church. The church was ready to sell the land for a Green to certain citizens, who in turn conveyed it back to the Trustees. The price paid was $1600. The deed bears the date of April 1, 1816. It is signed by John Mills, president of the board of trustees, and by those who subscribed to the purchase fund. The deed was then turned over to the trustees of the Green (who all appeared to be upstanding men of the Presbyterian Church). The deed provided  that 'no dwelling house, store, shop or barn, or any other building of any kind should be thereafter erected on the aforesaid green or common, except a meeting house, a courthouse and jail, and a market- house.' In 1868 the trustees of the Green reconveyed the property to the trustees of the church, who immediately transferred it back to the trustees of the Green, with the objectionable specifications omitted, thus prohibiting building of any sort upon it.”  (from Munson’s History of Morris County)

As described in Munson’s History, the Green measures approximately 2½ acres, and the distance around its square perimeter is a quarter mile. “In the center of the Green are a liberty pole and a rustic summer house for the band, and at the northeast corner the soldiers’ monument.”

The Green remained under the control of the Trustees of the Green until about 25 or 30 years ago, when it was incorporated to protect the trustees from liability.