WESTFIELD, NJ – In 1740, a landowner named Samuel Miller built a one-and-a-half story clapboard farmhouse on what is today Mountain Avenue in Westfield for his new bride, Sabra.
Miller grew an apple orchard on the property, and the couple went on to raise eight children in the home. Sabra and the children tended a large kitchen garden, likely cultivating beans and squash for the family’s table.
This year marks the 275th anniversary of the home, now known as the Miller-Cory House Museum. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is named as a site on the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail, according to Joan Barna, services coordinator for the museum.
The historic dwelling has a cedar shake shingled roof and brace and beam construction. Inside, the spaces between its walls are filled with nogging, a mixture of plaster, mud and horsehair.
“This is typical of the average New Jersey farmhouse in the 18th Century,” Barna said.
The Miller’s income came from the family’s apple harvest.
“I think their main crop was apples, so they had apple orchards. I think they also bartered and traded with apples,” Barna said.
Samuel Miller’s son Jesse eventually sold the house to Joseph Cory, who took over ownership in 1782 and lived there until he died in 1802. The home stayed in the Cory family until 1921, according to the museum's website, www.millercoryhouse.org.
Laura Sassi, a children’s book author and Cranford resident, has volunteered at the Miller-Cory House with her family for years. She and her 10-year-old daughter helped card wool at the annual Sheep-to-Shawl festival in April.
“I love that sense of stepping back in time,” Sassi said of being at the museum. “Some of my favorite Sunday afternoons are spent volunteering there.”
Sassi encourages others who are interested in history to consider helping out at Miller-Cory House.
“I value such a treasure, not just for Westfield but for our whole community. The only way that’s going to be preserved is if people volunteer,” she said.
The museum will be open this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for an anniversary fete called Yankee Doodle Celebration. The Miller-Cory House is located at 614 Mountain Ave.
Activities planned for the day include house tours, children’s crafts and demonstrations of authentic early American open-hearth cooking. At 3:30 p.m., museum staff will hold a dedication ceremony for a new commemorative brick walkway that encircles an herb garden.
Admission for adults is $3, while admission for children ages 3 to12 is $2. Children under 3 years old are free. The event will be held rain or shine.
For more information about the Miller-Cory House Museum’s tours and special events throughout the year, visit their website at www.millercoryhouse.org.