On March 25th, 1740, Morris Township was created by the State Legislature. The Township was named for then-Colonial Governor Col. Lewis Morris. The first schoolhouse was built in 1776. There was enough population growth between 1810 and 1814 that three one-room schoolhouses were built. The four schoolhouses, Mt. Kemble Avenue, Hanover Avenue, Mendham Road, and Washington Valley were closed in 1913 and the children attended Morristown schools.
The 1830s saw improvement in transportation as the Morris Turnpike was built, the Morris Canal was completed in 1831, and seven years later, the Morris and Essex Railroad opened, enabling township farmers to move their produce to the urban markets further east, and for city dwellers in overcrowded and industrialized centers to move west to Morris Township amongst other places.
The Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth started the Academy of St. Elizabeth, at the behest of Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, in 1860. The academy was the first all- girls secondary school in the state. Later, in 1896, the Sisters opened the first four-year college for women, the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, Morris Township.
The Township continued to collect taxes from town and township residents for roads and schools after the town had separated from the Township on April 6, 1865. The final separation of Morristown from Morris Township took place on February 18, 1895.
This was the location of New Jersey’s first mint, operating in 1786 through 1788 on property long known as Wheatsheaf Farms, but originally named “Solitude,” when a skilled British machinist named Walter Mould was making money. The owner of the property was John Cleves Symmes, a member of the state Supreme Court and the father of the wife of U.S. President William Henry Harrison. Silver and copper were mined there and later became coins called penze or horsehead pennies, with a shield and the Latin words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” on one side and a horse head, year and the words “NOVA CAESAREA” on the other side.
Things to do:
Morris Township is home to many parks and historic sites. The Morris County Park Commission runs many of them including Mennen Sports Arena, Lewis Morris Park, Seaton Hackney Stables, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Loantaka Park, Patriots Path, Fosterfields Living Historical Farm and Central Park of Morris County. Read about them here
The township’s Rec Department offers many events throughout the year, including summer concerts at the Ginty gazebo. You can swim at Ginty or Streeter Pool and at Sunrise Lake at Lewis Morris Park in the summer months. Morris Township Rec
Morris Township is also home to the Morris Museum, New Jersey’s second largest museum, located in a beautiful Gilded Age mansion. The museum is also New Jersey’s only Smithsonian Affiliate. Nearby is the Folk Project, also in a Gilded Age mansion. They present concerts on Friday evenings and contra dancing on Saturdays.
The Westin Governor Morris Hotel in Morris Township is home to one of New Jersey’s best restaurants, the Blue Morel.
Read about Morris Township and 38 other great Morris County towns in our Towns Blog