Morristown Green, most commonly referred to as the Green, is a historical park located in the center of Morristown, New Jersey. It has an area of two and a half acres and has in the past served as a military base, a militia training ground, and an area for public executions. It is now a public park in which many community events are held.
The Green’s history began with the discovery of the Americas: "This historical ground dates back to early 1715, in a time when New Jersey was still an English colony under the rule of King George II and Parliament". Years later the Green served a critical role during the American Revolutionary War. In the winter of 1777, the Green became George Washington's first encampment. Washington stayed at Arnold's Tavern, which once stood across the Green on what is now North Park Street. According to Simons, "the Green was the site of the Morris County Courthouse and jail for nearly 75 years (until 1827) and was the stage for many penal activities, including the incarceration of Tories and Hessian soldiers during the Revolutionary period". The Green was used as a public executions ground, the last execution taking place in 1833.
In the early days of the Green the land was owned by the Morristown Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest churches in Morristown. It was purchased in 1816 by the trustees of the Morristown Green who have been responsible for its maintenance ever since. The trustees pledged that the Green would remain "a common forever for the use and enjoyment of the public" and by the 1850s, efforts were made to revitalize the Green with tree plantings and fencing". A photograph of the Morristown Green taken at the turn of the 19th century clearly shows its walkways and plantings.
Several statues have been erected depicting the important historical events that took place in the park. "The Morristown Green has a statue commemorating the meeting of George Washington, the young Marquis de Lafayette, and young Alexander Hamilton depicting them discussing aid of French tall ships and troops being sent by King Louis XVI of France as support for the budding nation". There is also a Civil War memorial statue and a guide dog commemorative statue.
The Green has won some awards due to the renovation efforts by Dewberry, a civil, landscape architecture, environmental services and construction engineering firm. It received an Excellence Award in the Public Space category from Downtown New Jersey for the renovation done on the Morristown Green under the following criteria:
- Preserving and enhancing the character of the downtown environment
- Contributing to the economic vitality of the downtown district
- Generating pride in the community
- Drawing people to the area
- Demonstrating a coordinated effort by various segments of the community
- Improving the streetscape or visual appearance of the business district
The Morristown Green is on the National Register of Historic Sites and is in the center of the Morristown Historic District.
The Green holds many different activities throughout the year, but the most prominent event is the Festival on the Green. This is an open-air event where businesses and organizations come together to share their resources and have a huge block party. Other events include the Christmas Festival, the Moonlight Movies in Morristown, and multiple blood drives. The Green is also used to let the community gather and voice their opinion, a fact of which the Tea Party has made use.
The annual Christmas Festival is a four-week event that began 97 years ago, with a group of volunteers lighting a star on top of a signal tree in the Green. Now it has grown to include a Santa House and other seasonal decorations. The festival includes several events that are free to the public thanks to the sponsorship of local businesses, including Century 21, Morristown Memorial Hospital and Hyatt Morristown.
The new and the old around the Green
The newest project near the Green is 40 Park. It is a collection of luxury condos and retail outlets that replaced the Epstein’s department store."40 Park." Morristown Green. 15 January 2010. Web. 6 December 2010.
The Seeing Eye was established in 1929, and is the oldest existing school for guide dogs in the world. Here dogs are instructed in helping individuals that are blind so that they can be more mobile. The dogs are taught when and where something is dangerous or is an obstacle and people are instructed in how to get the best from their dog. The Seeing Eye gives tours of its facilities to schools in the surrounding area.
- Chemerka, Bill. "LexisNexis Academic & Library Solutions." Business Solutions & Software for Legal, Education and Government. 21 June 2001. Web. 12 September 2010. <http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic/>
- Buckeye 1776. "Morristown Green." Wikimapia - Let's Describe the Whole World! 6 June 2010. Web. 6 December 2010. <http://wikimapia.org/102764/Morristown-Green>.
- The Morristown Tea Party. "About Us." Home Page. Web. 6 December 2010. <http://www.themorristownteaparty.org/About_Us.php>.
- "Morristowns Festival on the Green." MORRISTOWN.com - Where the People Live! Web. 13 September 2010. <http://www.morristown.com/fallfest/FallFestMorristown.html>.
- Simon, Richard C. The Green: a History of the Morristown Green. Morristown, NJ: Trustees of the Morristown Green, 2004. Web. 12 September 2010. <http://www.jfpl.org/thegreen/history.html>.
- Weinstein, Brooke. "Morristown Green Renovation Earns Excellence Award." Dewberry. 23 September 2008. Web. 13 September 2010. <http://www.dewberry.com/news.asp?id=1068>.
- Nelson, Jennifer L. "Things to Do in Morris County, NJ: Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green Starts Friday | Dailyrecord.com | Daily Record." Dailyrecord.com | Daily Record | Morris County News, Community, Entertainment, Yellow Pages and Classifieds. Serving Morris County, NJ. 24 November 2010. Web. 6 December 2010. <http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20101124/LIFEFRONT/101124027/Things-to-do-in-Morris-County-NJ-Christmas-Festival-at-the-Morristown-Green-starts-Friday>.
- "Morristown and Morris County, Skylands Region New Jersey - Things To Do - Escapemaker.com." Weekend Getaways, Weekend Getaway Ideas, Bed and Breakfasts Inns Directory - Bed and Breakfast Country Inn, B & B Vacation Travel, Car-free Getaways, Weekend Getaway Packages, Green Travel, Green Getaways - Escapemaker.com. Web. 6 December 2010. <http://www.escapemaker.com/destination.php?state=NJ®ion=skylands&destination=morris§ion=to do>.
- Some historic images of The Morristown Green from The North Jersey History and Genealogy Center/Morristown & Morris Township Public Library