Home Culture All About the Historical Barrow Mansion in Jersey City

All About the Historical Barrow Mansion in Jersey City

by Sarah Griesbach
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Five massive white columns stripe the broad two-story porch of Jersey City’s Barrow Mansion at 83 Wayne Street. It’s quite a building to look at it, and it’s actually been standing since the mid 19th century. This history-filled spot is now a community center, meant to be used by all despite the fact that it’s historically significant. Today, it houses support groups, non-profits, musical events, serves as a wedding venue, and even has a rentable bowling alley. We covered what you need to know about this mansion’s history as well as everything there is to do there. Read on to learn more about the history of Jersey City’s Barrow Mansion — as well as everything there is to do there today.

barrow mansion jersey city

A Very Jersey City History

In the year 1838, the year that the City of Jersey was renamed Jersey City, Eliza Brower Barrow and her husband, Dr. William Barrow, moved into the building now known as the Barrow Mansion. At the time, the Greek Revivalist “Ionic House” was one half of a family compound. Next door, in an almost identical mansion, lived Eliza’s sister, Sarah Brower Van Vorst, and her husband, Cornelius Van Vorst. Cornelius, the mayor of Jersey City from 1860 to 1861, who (documents show) held Black people in slavery before it was finally made illegal.

barrow mansion

When constructed, the two grand estates were connected by a shared garden though, today, the Barrow Mansion stands alone. Its twin was demolished in the mid-twentieth-century. In 1890, the Barrow Mansion was sold to the Y.M.C.A. who added a rifle range and gymnasium to the building before they sold it in 1897 to St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, who has owned it since. In 1984, the Barrow Mansion Development Corporation (BMDC) took on the stewardship of this landmark building for the purpose of restoring, preserving, and operating the Barrow Mansion, which includes promoting its use as a community center.

Read More: Hoboken’s Historic Role in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

A Home for Community

A number of the Barrow Mansion’s tenants — meditation classes, non-profit headquarters offices, and more support groups than are housed anywhere else in Hudson County — give testimony to the mission that guides the historic house’s current stewards. The Barrow Mansion has recently recommitted itself to their core values of inclusivity, empowerment, leadership development, and service. These guiding principles show up in the adjusted rents that community-enriching programs receive; the many free public events organized on the premises; in the plethora of creative arts series hosted there; and the occasional use of the facility for city-wide purposes, such as emergency flood assistance, COVID vaccinations, and ESL classes for war refugees.

barrow mansion jc

This past summer’s Music on the Porch free weekly concert series and the festive Dog Day event are fun examples of how this iteration of the Barrow Mansion engages more people than ever before. An innovative Salon series program that’s only just begun shows how far the volunteer board is pushing to make their space an incubator for Hudson County creatives. By sending in a proposal, visual artists, poets, playwrights, and music groups can have a day to present their magnum opus to the public of their choosing. The artist sets the ticket price and collects 100% of what comes in at the door during their salon performance.

See More: A List of Historical Places to Visit in North Jersey 

A Popular Place to Play

barrow mansion

Today, an old-fashioned two-lane bowling alley in the basement (courtesy of the YMCA’s short residency) is available for rent, along with the Downton Abbey style kitchen next to it, and a former gymnasium that serves as an event space for weddings and parties of all kinds. The main floor retains some Victorian décor. The ceilings extend all of 12 feet, adding airy ambiance to the front and back parlors. Carved Italian marble fireplaces, wall mounted sculptures resembling Lady Liberty, and massive doors all give nod to the luxury of the lives once lived within the building. It is not a museum showplace today, however — this house is meant to be used. It is ADA accessible, and historic tours of the Mansion are given on the first Saturday of the month. 

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