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The Times, October 18, 2004

"Historical Morven mansion reopens"

By Amy Kuperinsky

PRINCETON BOROUGH -- Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration of Independence and storied Princetonian, once again opened his home to the community as the historical Morven Museum and Garden welcomed visitors yesterday.

Re-enactors heralded the opening day at the home of one of the nation's Founding Fathers -- by offering horse-drawn carriage rides, and Colonial drum lines and walking tours of the borough. Inside the house, guests milled around Stockton family portraits and exhibits of art from visiting collections from galleries including the New Jersey State Museum and Princeton University Art Museum.

Colonial re-enactors march on the lawn of the historical Morven Museum and Garden at reopening ceremonies yesterday. From left are Ronald Tolles, Kathy Drmosi, Brian Faulks, Thomas D'Amico, and Ernest Bower.

John and Kathryn Blynn portrayed Richard Stockton and Annis Boudinot, the original inhabitants of the 1750s Georgian estate on Stockton Street.

Morven, which Boudinot, a poet, named for a mythical Gaelic kingdom, had been closed for several years during renovations. Maintained by Historic Morven Inc. and the New Jersey Department of State, the estate is a historical resource and point of pride.

Visitors listened to the re-enactors tell the story of the Stocktons and read historical flip-books detailing Morven's list of distinguished inhabitants, including Lord Cornwallis and state governors from Walter Edge in 1944 to Brendan Byrne in 1974.

Marc Mappen executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of New Jersey, had a different take on the historical relevance of Stockton. While Morven lives on as a museum, Mappen said, another sure indication of Stockton's legacy is the state's most indigenous prevalent honor. "He has a (Turnpike) rest stop named after him."

Andy Bayne of Princeton Township, who was painting miniature pumpkins with his three daughters at a tent outside the estate, said the house reminded him of the struggle for independence and political rights during the American Revolution. "I'm hoping it's going to be a good place for the kids," he said. "I think this is a great place for families to get involved in things they tend to forget about."

Sgt. Daniel Hites showed visitors how to fold American flags, an activity sponsored by the civic group Spirit of Princeton. The Colonial Musketeers Fife and Drum Corps of Hackettstown piped and marched around the lawn as re-enactors from Heard's Brigade of the New Jersey Militia demonstrated embroidery and displayed Colonial-era weapons.

Josephine and John Werth, Princeton residents for 34 years, who were waiting for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, said they had visited the estate years ago and are happy it has reopened. "It's just been sitting here for so long." Josephine Werth said. "I think it's great."