The Red Brick Schoolhouse was built in 1860 and used until 1928 when the town's five rural schools were replaced by the Southern Boulevard School. The schoolhouse was deeded to the town and, for many years, was used as the Town Hall. When the town offices were relocated in 1988, the building was put into the charge of the Historical Society for use as a museum.
The museum has a permanent exhibit on the second floor which is arranged according to the town's original school districts. Each district highlights, not only that school, but also the industries, farming activities, and the people who lived in each district.
The first floor is a large meeting room where our lecture series is presented. The room contains a number of displays as well, including antique toys, food preparation equipment, dresses, and various locally manufactured items.
The museum is open from 2-4 PM on the first Sunday of each month. Tours for Scouts and other groups can also be arranged. Call Museum Director, Sue Moore at 973-635-2765.
Below is a gallery of images from our collection. Select each for a larger view.
Oral Histories: Beginning in the late 1970s, members of the Society began recording oral histories by the elder residents of the Township. About 75 have been collected thus far in this ongoing project.
Books: The Society has numerous books, old and recent, concerning the history of New Jersey, Morris County, Chatham Township, and the surrounding area. Books can be used only at the museum.
Documents: Various town documents including poll books, road district records, tax records, among others, dating from as early as the 1840s are available upon request for study at the museum.
Artifacts: The museum is full of a wide spectrum of artifacts that reflect life in the Township throughout its history.
Photographs: The Society has a large collection of original and scanned photographs of the activities, places, and people of the Township. Early images provide a window into the Township's past. More recent images are forming the record for the next generation of history-lovers.
Maps: The Society has a number of old maps of Chatham and the immediate area, which can be viewed at the museum.
Archeological Artifacts: In 1983-84, members of the Society undertook an archeological dig at the site of the Nathaniel Bonnel V House. The house, on River Road, was built in 1756 and burned in 1940, then the land was abandoned. When a condominium development was planned for the area, the Society was granted permission for the dig. Artifacts found during the archeologist-guided excavation are displayed in the museum.
Donate to the Collection
Donations of items, photographs, and memories are welcome.
The Society's focus is on local history. We are interested in items that were actually used in the Township or are similar to ones that would have been used here, such as household items, clothing, farming equipment, school-related materials, maps, books on state and local history, and items related to the industries of the town. Please contact us at 973-635-4911 to discuss making a donation.
Photographs can be scanned and returned.
If you have a short remembrance or family story, you can donate it by typing it into the form at the bottom of the donate page by clicking here. If you would like to provide a full oral history or know of someone we should interview, please contact the Society at 973-635-4911 or send us an email.