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Trenton City Museum

Ellarslie In Cadwalader Park
Trenton, New Jersey

Phone: 609 989 3632 --

Statement of Purpose:

18th to 20th century decorative art related to the city.

Highlights & Collections:

Ellarslie, The Trenton City Museum

Ellarslie, an Italianate villa, was built for Henry McCall Sr. of Philadelphia as a summer residence in 1848. The architect selected to design Ellarslie was John Notman, known for designing the first Italianate building in America (Burlington, NJ) and the first Renaissance Revival building, the Athenaeum in Philadelphia. Notman was locally recognized for having been the architect for the 1845 expansion of the New Jersey State House as well as the design for the State Hospital, which was also begun in 1848.

In February of 1881, Henry McCall Jr. sold Ellarslie to George Farlee for $25,000. Seven years later, in September of 1888, the city of Trenton acquired the property from Farlee for $50,000, which also included the surrounding 80 acres.

The City of Trenton opened the first museum here in 1889, closing several years later. Ellarslie has been a restaurant, ice cream parlor and monkey house. The building itself has been home to several noted Trenton families over the years, and in 1971 renovations began to create the Trenton City Museum. Ellarslie Mansion, included in the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1978 with an exhibition from our permanent collection of Trenton cultural history.


In 1887 a committee of the Common Council for the city of Trenton began to seek a location for what would become the City Park. Edmund C. Hill, a baker by trade, who had been recently elected to the Common Council was chairman of the committee and principal advocate for the idea of the City Park.

After the purchase of the Farlee estate, the city contracted the landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmstead. Olmstead's style is defined by natural rolling landscape, plantings of various species and sub-species of trees and shrubs, the consistent use of curved footpaths and roadways, and often the addition of animals in a natural habitat. Though perhaps best known for his design of Central Park in New York, the same approach was applied to the nearly one hundred acres resulting in what is now Cadwalader Park.


Located on the second floor of the Museum is a permanent collection of fine and decorative arts, cultural history, and industrial artifacts, nearly all of which were manufactured in Trenton.

By 1880 there were hundreds of independent potteries operating within the city of Trenton. The Museum houses an extensive collection of ceramic and porcelain, which includes redware, stoneware, yellow ware, ironstone, tile, architectural terra-cotta, and art pottery. While there are many fine examples of each of these, the museum holds a concentration of table and art porcelain, particularly from Trenton's most successful Manufacturer, the Ceramic Art Company and its successor, Lenox. In addition, Trenton's contemporary art potteries - Boehm and Cybis - are also represented in collections each has donated to the museum.

The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie is supported in part through the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission and volunteer efforts of the Trenton Museum Society, which hosts receptions and other social functions held at the museum. In addition, the Museum Society supports the acquisition and conservation of the permanent collections. Membership is open to all and everyone is encouraged to join this active and dedicated organization.


The first floor galleries are host to changing exhibitions of contemporary art in all media, where visitors enjoy a diverse and exciting visual experience throughout the year. In addition to exhibitions, the museum is host to many special events, musical programs, and art classes.

The exhibitions have included internationally recognized artists such as master woodworker George Nakashima, watercolorist Betsy Zill, fine art photographer Geir Jordahl, and abstract painter Walter Darby Bannard. Celebrity artists such as Norman Mailer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kurt Vonnegut, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Ellarslie also hosts the Trenton Artists Workshop Association's (TAWA) summer series of exhibits which highlights the abundance of local artistic talent. In addition, the Ellarslie Open, an annual juried exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to view the finest regional work from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.



Admission & Directions:







Directions from Train station

From South Jersey:

From Freehold:



Check with us at a later date.

Key Personnel:

Brian O. Hill, Director

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