Liberty Hall is a horticulturist’s heaven, but even if you don’t relax by gardening, you’ll enjoy strolling our many acres where plants bloom from April to first frost. You or roam around by yourself for a grounds fee that’s half the regular admission. A guided garden tour is also available by reservation only for $5.
The museum’s 11 landscaped acres have a history all their own. Governor William Livingston, who built Liberty Hall in the 1770’s, considered himself a Gentleman Farmer in the eighteenth century tradition, exchanging seeds with his contemporaries such as George Washington and his son-in-law John Jay, our first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as friends in England and France. He was proud of the many fruit trees he imported from England and the formal gardens that were so much a part of 18th century homes. The gardens were restored by Stewart B. Kean and we continue to honor that tradition with meticulous care of our gardens.
We invite our guests to stroll among our century old trees. Five of the largest trees of their kind in New Jersey – a horse chestnut, buckeye, a Bartlett pear and a Seckel pear – were planted by Livingston and still shade Liberty Hall.
The trees along the Serpentine Trail were planted by another early owner Lord Bolingbroke, who also planted the English boxwood maze that guests still enjoy today. He also enlarged the outbuildings and established or improved a large hot house (precursor of a greenhouse). He laid out the grounds to the west of the mansion and brought many rare shrubs and trees to the estate.
The Livingston rose is always the first to bloom, its bright yellow flowers lasting for only two weeks. The rugosa roses, which are located between the boxwood hedges, are reported to have been planted by either William Livingston or Susan Livingston Kean Niemcewicz. Other rose beds were re-introduced to the property by Stewart Kean according to the original plans and include imported English roses in shades of lavender and pink.
Liberty Hall’s gardens also contain multiple varieties of peonies, a favorite flower of Mary Alice Kean.
When Mary Alice Barney Kean arrived at Liberty Hall in 1932, she began to study the landscaping procedures of previous occupants. We have her original notes describing the gardening traditions through the generations. Mrs. Kean was so precise in her attention to detail that she would measure the height of the hedges.
The staff of Liberty Hall Museum cordially invites you to meet us in the garden.