The Miller-Cory Museum
The first rout of the British by Continental troops in New Jersey is a bit of history Westfield saw firsthand. A 240 year old white clapboard farmhouse brings that battle and a great deal of historical romance to life for today’s visitors.
On December 17, 1776, a brigade sent by Cornwallis to rid the territory of harassing Continentals retreated through Westfield, with Colonel Ford’s militia in hot pursuit. “This is the first instance in the State of New Jersey when British troops turned their backs and fled from those they called rebels, and this success… taught the Jersey Militia that the foe was not invincible, ” reported the New Jersey Journal.
An eyewitness to the flight of the British down Mountain Avenue still stands on a small rise at number 614… The Miller-Cory House, named in honor of its two pre-Revolutionary War owners, both descended from the earliest settlers in this area.
The house was purchased by a citizen’s committee, deeded to the Westfield Historical Society and is operated as a living history museum by the Miller-Cory House Association. It has been certified as a historic site and has been entered on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
In November 1972, visitors were invited to step into the 18th Century as the Miller-Cory Museum opened its doors to the public. Since that time, for the many guests who have toured the Miller_-Cory House, the concept of a “living museum” has made each visit an educational venture into Colonial America.
In 1977, through a gift from the Westfield Service League, we added a multi-media visitor center which enables us to increase the visitor’s perspective through film presentations.
By recreating the daily life and seasonal work of a family in the Colonial period, Miller-Cory adds another dimension to history’s written record. In the words of a member of the board of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the quality of Miller-Cory interpretations is due to its excessive research using primary source material. The museum archives are considered a valuable data bank for students.
The restoration of the fireplace wall and the milk room represents three years of interdisciplinary studies including history, above and below ground archaeology and architecture.
The project was made possible with grant monies from the New Jersey American Revolution Bicentennial Celebration Commission, the National Park Service matching funds administered through the New Jersey Historic Sites Office and from the New Jersey Historical Commission.
In depth research led to the construction of a fireplace based on prototypes found in the area dating to the period of the museum’s interpretation.
The Miller-Cory House has also become a prototype of what a community can achieve through cooperative effort. It was selected for inclusion in a nationwide publication “The Community Bicentennial: Lasting Reminders.” Miller-Cory has gained recognition as an outstanding community project in ever-widening geographical areas.