The apple-shaped pool and poolhouse at Morven were built in 1941, during the period when Robert Wood Johnson lived there (1928 to 1944) and were designed by Alexander P. Morgan, a descendant of the JP Morgan family.
In October, 2004, a $5.8 million restoration transformed this former New Jersey governor’s mansion into a first-class museum with exhibits and programs about its own history and the cultural heritage of New Jersey.
The poolhouse was the last remaining structure on the property to be restored. “It shows Morven as a living, breathing, five-century property,” says Barbara Webb, director of development at Morven. “People think of it an 18th-century Colonial home of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Stockton, but in fact it has remained an ever-evolving property into the 21st century.”
In September Morven announced it will now be open as a venue for private events and business meetings.
Princeton architect Ronnie Bregenzer was the architect for the new poolhouse, and Massimino Builders of Newtown, PA, did the restoration.
On Sunday, September 25, about 130 guests, many of them Morven’s most devoted patrons, gathered to celebrate the opening of the poolhouse.
Former governor Brendan T. Byrne, who attended as special guest with two of his children, Tom and Barbara, reminisced at length for the gathered guests. And his comments revealed not only some of the most celebrated guests that have come to visit, but also that, during the years when Morven was the governor’s mansion, it was home to families — with kids who say the darnedest things.
Byrne rattled off a list of celebrities and luminaries who came to visit during his tenure, including Princess Grace, Ethel Kennedy, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Fidel Castro. After Castro’s visit, Byrne said, “We had to get a new rug because of all his cigars.”
On primary day, 1977, the whole family sat glued to the television. “Billy, who was eight at the time, asked me, ‘When will it be over?’ and I said, ‘10 p.m.’ To which he replied, ‘Then we can watch the Yankees now!’”
When the family was offered the opportunity to move to Drumthwacket, Byrne says he left the decision up to the kids. “Barbara, who was 10 or 11 at the time, said no to Drumthwacket. ‘It’s too far to walk to Polly’s Fine Candy (a former much-loved store on Palmer Square).’”
For more information visit www.morven.org