$10 – $15

Secret History of American River People with Artist/Director Wes Modes

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$10 – $15

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Join us for a virtual evening with Wes Modes to reveal A Secret History of American River People

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The painter and ornithologist Gerard Rutgers Hardenbergh lived and painted in a rustic houseboat along the shores of Scow Ditch in Bay Head, New Jersey. For more than a century, shantyboat communities sprung up in industrial towns and out-of-the-way rural areas on rivers and lakes all over the continent.

Join us for a virtual evening with Artist/Director/University of California Lecturer Wes Modes for a presentation and discussion of his A Secret History of American River People which explores the stories of people who live and work in river communities from the deck of a recreated mid-century shantyboat over a series of epic river voyages. We will explore the long history of shantyboats in America and research from the project.


		Secret History of American River People with Artist/Director Wes Modes image

		Secret History of American River People with Artist/Director Wes Modes image
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Organizer Morven Museum & Garden

Organizer of Secret History of American River People with Artist/Director Wes Modes

HISTORY

Home to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and to five New Jersey governors, Morven has played a role in the history of New Jersey and the nation for more than 250 years.

Morven was built by Richard Stockton (1730–1781), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, in the 1750s on property granted to his grandfather by William Penn (1644–1718) in 1701. Of course, European settlers were not the first to call this land home. Native Americans lived in the Mid-Atlantic region for more than 12,000 years. Archaeology at Morven has uncovered evidence of Lenni-Lenape tool-making on its five acres.  

After a fire in 1758, the home was rebuilt and christened Morven, (“big hill” in Gaelic) by Richard’s wife Annis Boudinot Stockton (1736–1801). Richard was a graduate of the first class of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and became a prominent lawyer. In 1776  he was one of five New Jersey delegates appointed to the Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence. The British ransacked Morven later that year, capturing and imprisoning Stockton. He was released in January 1777. Annis is one of America’s earliest published female poets, immortalizing heroes of the Revolution such as George Washington, who called her “the elegant Muse of Morven.”

As wealthy lawyers, the first two generations of Stocktons at Morven owned enslaved men, women, and children. Records indicate that by the time the third generation of Stocktons took ownership of Morven in 1840, enslaved people no longer lived on the property. At first, they were replaced by free African Americans, and then eventually by immigrants from Ireland and Germany. Servants worked at Morven well into the twentieth century.

Four more generations of Stocktons resided at Morven through the early 20th century before the property was leased to General Robert Wood Johnson, Chairman of Johnson & Johnson from 1928 to 1944. He was followed by five New Jersey governors when Morven served as the state’s first Governor’s Mansion (1945–1981).

After the Governor’s Mansion was relocated in 1982, Morven went through an extensive restoration and archaeological investigation. Morven re-opened as a museum and garden in 2004.

To view a timeline of Morven, click here.


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RESTORATION

An unprecedented public and private partnership coupled with an extensive document search and archaeological excavation provided the foundation for a comprehensive renovation of Morven that began in 1999.

The program restored historic features of the grounds, including an 18th-century horse chestnut walk and a colonial revival garden. The buildings were returned to original colors, 20th century alterations were removed, and historic features, such as the renowned parquet floors, were re-installed.

An extensive nine-zone environmental system allows the museum to regulate temperature and humidity in each gallery, and security, lighting, fire suppression, and handicap-accessibility systems allows Morven to meet the industry standards for museums.

STOCKTON EDUCATION CENTER

Opened in the summer of 2018, Morven’s newest space is a gracious state-of-the-art building that allows us to expand our range of programming and events steps away from the historic mansion and overlooking the beautiful Colonial Revival Garden.

In over 3,000 square feet in three adjoining spaces, the Gathering Space, the Atrium, and our Classroom, we host hands-on workshops, lectures, family days, and so much more.   

 

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