Perth Amboy NJ Revolutionary War Site Aims For US 250th Anniversary
PERTH AMBOY — When the United States celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2026, local and state authorities want the Proprietary House to play a key role in the celebration.
Local officials say the Georgian mansion at 149 Kearny Avenue is the last mansion of a royal governor among the 13 colonies. The site is well maintained and showcases late 18th century life as the home of a loyalist royal governor, William Franklin, from 1764 to 1766.
“Perth Amboy’s historic significance during the Revolutionary War rivals any town in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania or Virginia,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said. “As America prepares for celebrations in 2026, it is essential that Perth Amboy’s history plays a vital role, as well as a prominent tourist spot.”
Coughlin and fellow 19th District Democratic lawmakers State Sen. Joe Vitale and Congresswoman Yvonne Lopez led the charge of state funding to support needed renovations at the owner’s home and secured $3 million in the state’s fiscal year 2019 budget to support the rehabilitation of the building.
“Revolution NJ”, through the nonprofit organization Crossroads of the American Revolution, was established in 2018 as the state’s planning entity for the upcoming anniversary. The group is currently conducting planning studies to make New Jersey a major Revolutionary War heritage tourist destination. Investments in state-owned Revolutionary War sites over the next few years are aimed at creating eight to 12 visitor sites.
“Urban areas are typically overlooked for heritage tourism potential, but these are precisely the types of places that will benefit immensely,” Lopez said. “We need more grants to prepare the owner’s house to welcome many more visitors, while strengthening its historic and heritage identity in the county of Middlesex.”
Vitale said approximately 6% of New Jersey’s tourism dollars are generated from heritage tourism, representing just under $400 million in state and local tax revenue and $3 billion in economic impact. He said that’s about half of the average activity generated by heritage tourism nationally.
During the Revolutionary War the property was occupied by Patriot and British troops and for a time served as the headquarters of American General Hugh Mercer and British General Sir William Howe.
After the war, Proprietary House was abandoned, vandalized and nearly destroyed by fire. The building has also served as a hotel, private home, ramshackle boarding house, and now a museum, run by the nonprofit Proprietary House Association. It is open for tours, lectures, concerts, storytelling, ghost tours and tea parties, as well as weddings, dinners, meetings and luncheons.
The ground floor and the first floor of the original mansion are rented to the association, responsible for raising funds for programs, interpretation and restoration.
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Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, the courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.