CC Photography: Historical ‘Curbside’ Photos of Morristown, NJ with Present – Day Views

Morristown’s central square (known as the Green);  early 1960s.


Recently the Morris County Historical Society released a nice collection of historical images of Morristown, New Jersey (the county seat).  Many of these photos I have never seen before.  They not only show some beautiful lost architecture, but also Curbside Classics from the “horse & buggy” era through the 1960s.  For added interest I have included modern Google Street View images so we can see how this small northeastern city has changed over the years.  I also threw in some other photos I found, including some I took back in the 1980s and ’90s.  So as Peabody said to Sherman, “Set the Wayback Machine”  and let’s see what we find:

Map of Morristown, 1954.



Dumont Place, looking up toward the Green.  Methodist church and Presbyterian church visible in the background.  I hope that car coming down the hill can stop–I don’t think they used road salt in those days!  MCHS


Methodist church steeple remains;  Presbyterian church now obscured.


Park Theatre, next to the Presbyterian church, facing the Green.  (Demolished)


The old theatre site was made into a little park. There was a stone fountain, classical lampposts, brick pavers, and flowering pear trees when I photographed it in 1989.


At some point, the fountain was removed, along with the lampposts, the bricks, and the pear trees. Who knows why.


And next door to that was this RCA Victor dealer in 1931.


Speedwell Avenue from Park Place, just past the theatre and the RCA store. Castle-like building on the right is a former police station.


Stores at left were replaced by Bamberger’s department store in the 1940s; Headquarters Plaza (erected in the 1970s) is seen on the right.


Close-up of police station. Civil War veterans of the NJ 15th Volunteer Regiment at a 1929 reunion (L to R):  Rev. W. W. Hammond, Jacob Lunger, E. A. Doty, and John Williamson.  MCHS


Farther up Speedwell, near Spring Street. MCHS


Babbitt Clothiers has lost its original siding and shutters, but the yellow brick building next door is remarkably well preserved.


South Street, view westward towards the Green.


A few old facades remain, but not all of them.


Washington Street, just off the Green, looking east, 1992. Cars of the ’70s were still commonly seen. Author’s own photograph.


Present-day Google Street View.


Plaza Building, South & Elm Streets. MCHS


Except for the storefront tenants (and the cars), not much has changed.


Spring Street from Morris Street. Even the “slummy” parts of town had a certain rustic charm. I could see an artist painting this, and you could hang it on your wall and it wouldn’t look out of place at all. Large house in the distance is Dickerson’s Tavern where Benedict Arnold received his first court-martial from General George Washington in 1779.  MCHS


The houses and the tavern are long gone, but ruins of the stone walls and concrete steps going down to the sidewalk remain. I suspect the building across the street (“LIGHTING”) won’t be around much longer.


Selling ice cream on Race Street.  MCHS


Race Street was renamed Clyde Potts Drive, and all houses in the area were demolished to make way for low-income apartment buildings.


Last of the old style street signs (no longer there).



Beginnings of Mansion Row on Madison Avenue from a map drawn in 1910.



Same view today.


Florham, June 1941. MCHS


Madison Avenue, once known as “The Great White Way” was, at its peak, lined with approximately 100 Gilded Age mansions and their landscaped grounds.  Today, only about five of them survive.  The grandest is Florham, former residence of Hamilton McKown Twombly and his wife Florence Adele Vanderbilt.  Florham now serves as the administration building for Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Mrs. Hamilton McKown Twombly (nee Florence Adele Vanderbilt) as painted by John Singer Sargent, 1890.


Carriage rides at Florham. Author’s own photograph.


However, most of the Madison Avenue mansions were not true estates like Florham, but rather large, ornate houses built on relatively smaller plots.  I got to photograph two of them before they fell to the wreckers:

Madison & Lafayette Avenues, 1986. Author’s own photograph.


Now TD Bank.


“Tourelle” once stood on Madison Avenue near Normandy Parkway, opposite Friendly’s restaurant.   Author’s Own Photograph from 1985.


I actually explored the inside when the house was empty and abandoned (Don’t tell anyone!) It was demolished shortly thereafter.


Tourelle property now “The Village at Convent Station” (townhouses).


Alnwick Hall is one of the last survivors on the Avenue, now used for corporate offices.


I parked my ’58 Cadillac out front because I thought it would make a great backdrop for a picture.




“The Grove”, 69 Macculloch Avenue, c. 1995. Growing up, this was my dream house. In 1995, you could have bought it for $450,000. Way out of my price range at the time.  A splendid 1865 Second Empire house with all of its original features intact. Author’s own photograph.


Side view. How about that bay window over the portico? I wish I could show you the interior–the front rooms, hall, and staircase are really beautiful. The grounds were originally landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park.


“The Grove” today. A lot of renovation work has been done on it. Zillow now values the house at $1.7 million. Author’s own photograph.


Well, I did manage to get a little piece of The Grove. They had an estate sale, and I picked up this tufted Victorian armchair (see blue arrow) which may have been part of the house’s early furnishings.


205 Morris Street as photographed by Jack Falat, c. 1976. That’s a genuine Victorian tin roof.


Like so many once-charming older houses in Morristown, it’s been through the “remuddle” treatment–vinyl siding, plastic replacement windows, architectural details stripped off or covered over. Blocks and blocks of this make the town look ugly and dull. Why not restore it correctly to begin with? A photographer like Jack Falat probably wouldn’t bother taking a picture of it now.


What I called “The Addams Family House”:  1 Franklin Place.


All cleaned up now. Doesn’t seem so spooky and mysterious anymore.


The stairhall features this incredible stained glass window. From the website


Houses on Ridgedale Avenue which have since disappeared, 1990s. Author’s own photograph.



Burnham Pool, on Route 24 headed out of town. MCHS


No longer “the ole swimmin’ hole”, but modern concrete pools with all kinds of amenities.


“Morristown Raceway opened in 1950 as a half mile dirt speedway track hosting Stock Car Racing. In its second year of operation the venue was hosting NASCAR Grand National events. Tim Flock was the winner of the first event. NASCAR continued to support the venue up until 1955 when the track closed.”  (From the website Speedway and Road Race History).  When these cars were through racing, I believe some of them were dumped in the woods across Hanover Avenue, and I remember seeing those cars (many of which were riddled with bullet holes!)  Mennen Arena was built on the racetrack site.


Abandoned Buick in the woods off Malcolm Street. Author’s own photograph


“Sip & Sup”, formerly Alderney Dairy Barn, Route 10 & 202, Morris Plains.


Sip & Sup sugar packet.


The barn was torn down in the 1970s and a Wendy’s now occupies the site.


Ruined estate, Woodland Avenue & Kitchell Road, Morris Township, 1989. Replaced by condominiums. Author’s own photograph.


Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital looked so cheery and bright when it opened in 1876.


More the way I remember it . . .   (Photo from the website


Despite local opposition, the old hospital was demolished about ten years ago. So there’s one less creepy abandoned mental hospital in the world. Today the site is nothing but grass. (Photo from the website



Gold’s–a locally famous and popular store on Morris Street & Olyphant Place looked like this in the 1950s. The neon letters lit up bright orange at night.


Gold’s is still there–at least in name. Doesn’t look nearly as inviting. Was it really necessary to brick over the store windows?


On Market Street, a store sign with just–a pig. No other identification. This place will sell pork meat and will butcher your hog for you. “Put out a picture of a pig and they will come.”   Looks like it had bulbs originally.


Parade float going down South Street, 1965. The float commemorates George Washington and has a model of Washington’s Headquarters (located in Morristown).


There I am! Morristown Green, Christmas 1969.


So that’s Morristown.  As you can probably tell, I’m not too thrilled about some of the changes that have occurred over the decades.  While a lot of attention was paid to the town’s Colonial heritage, its wealth of Victorian architecture was often ignored, neglected, bulldozed, or covered over.  There is still a fair amount of it surviving, but there could have been so much more of it preserved–and I think the town would have been better off aesthetically had that happened.

There goes another one! Historic mansion at Columbia Turnpike & Whippany Road was torn down just last year.


Then there’s the loss of “traditional” stores downtown which made Morristown a local shopping hub.  There were two large department stores:  Epstein’s and Bamberger’s (later Macy’s, then Century 21).  Traffic from those two places helped support the smaller stores.  The department stores are gone now, as well as what I would call “useful” stores like hardware stores, low-end antique shops, and places that repaired and rebuilt auto radiators–even the pig store is gone .

Roots Steakhouse outdoor dining area in Morristown, New Jersey on Thursday, July 20, 2023.  Photo from


Today the business district is dominated by banks, tanning and nail salons, fitness places, and high-end restaurants catering to the young adult “hipster” crowd that likes to socialize, have fun, and spend a lot of money doing it.  Think Starbucks, Bluemercury, The Frog and other restaurants, Morristown Game Vault (for gamers) etc.  Morristown is still a great town;  it’s just entering a new phase of its existence.


Situated on the Green are the Alliance Statues:  correctly-scaled, life-like statues of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette.  You can stand up close to them–and get the momentary surreal feeling that you’re actually meeting these famous men in person for yourself!  Photo by Wally Gobetz


A better question might be, “What would George Washington think of Morristown if he visited it today?”  After experiencing the shock of seeing automobiles for the first time, he would probably recognize the Green (but none of the buildings around it) and his well-preserved Headquarters, and not much else.

Author’s own photograph


Then we’ll show him the George Washington Bridge–I’m sure he’d be really impressed by that!