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Boxwood Hall has a very rich history that connects it with an early mayor of Elizabethtown, a President of the Continental Congress, the first President of the United States, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and three signers of the United States Constitution.
Boxwood Hall was built circa 1750 by Samuel Woodruff, who was then the Mayor of Elizabethtown. Elias Boudinot lived here from 1772 to 1795. Boudinot was a member of the Continental Congress, and served as the President of Congress in 1782-1783. It was during this time, on October 31, 1783, that word reached Congress that the Treaty of Paris had been signed, officially ending the Revolutionary War.
When a young Alexander Hamilton studied in Elizabeth in 1773 at the Presbyterian Academy, he was a visitor at Boxwood Hall and developed a friendship with the Boudinots that would last his lifetime. Hamilton fought in the Revolutionary War and served as an aide-de-camp to General Washington. He went on to serve under President Washington as the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and his face is familiar to most people as it has appeared on the ten dollar bill since 1928.
In April of 1789, George Washington traveled from his home in Virginia to be inaugurated as the country’s first President in New York City, which then served as the national capital. He reached Elizabethtown on April 23, 1789, and had lunch at Boxwood Hall before being ferried from Elizabethtown to New York City. This gives Elizabeth the distinction of being Washington’s final stop before reaching the city where he would be sworn in as the first President. A monument honoring Washington’s Inaugural stands in Winfield Scott Plaza about 100 yards from here.
From 1795 to 1824, Jonathan Dayton lived at Boxwood Hall. Dayton had served as a Lieutenant and Paymaster in the Revolutionary War. After the war, he was politically active in the affairs of the new nation. He was one of four men to sign the United States Constitution for New Jersey. The other three were: David Brearly, William Livingston and William Paterson. George Washington, who stopped at Boxwood Hall, also signed the Constitution, but he was a delegate for the state of Virginia. Alexander Hamilton, who had visited the house, signed the Constitution for the state of New York.
Boxwood Hall’s connections to important Revolutionary War figures extends out as far as 1824, when General Lafayette stayed here overnight. General Lafayette was a French General who fought with the Americans in the Revolutionary War, and was a personal favorite of General Washington. Decades after the end of the Revolutionary War, Lafayette made a return visit from France to the United States from August 16, 1824 – September 7, 1825. At that time, the United States consisted of only 24 states, and Lafayette visited all of them. On September 23, 1824, he visited Elizabethtown. After a day of honors and salutes, Lafayette spent the night at Boxwood Hall. Less than three weeks after the visit from Lafayette, Jonathan Dayton died on Oct. 9, 1824. He is buried at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Elizabeth.
Boxwood Hall is a center hall Georgian design, was built with a wing on either side of the present building. The remaining frame, interior paneling and floors are largely original. Today, visitors can learn about Colonial life and American’s early aristocracy. Boxwood Hall is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark property. Boxwood Hall is open to the public Monday-Friday 9am-noon & 1pm-5pm. Visitors should call ahead to confirm hours and availability of a guide. Admission is free.
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