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Chatham Township

Morris County, New Jersey

Chatham Township administrative offices are located at 58 Meyersville Road, Chatham, NJ 07928.
Phone: 973‑635‑4600.


Beginnings [1]

Chatham Township's rich natural resources shaped its history. In pre-colonial times, the Leni Lenape Indians used the Great Swamp and the Passaic River as summer hunting and fishing grounds. In the 1700's colonial settlers gradually arrived, building farms scattered along the Passaic River and in Green Village on either side of the swamp. Green Village is described as an industrial village by the Morris County Heritage Commission—it boasted a basket making factory, blacksmith's shop, mills and scattered 18th century houses. During the Revolutionary War, evidence indicates that George Washington's troops encamped in the northerly part of the town and that during an outbreak of small pox, that the sick were taken in by villagers. Green Village has the potential for qualification as a historic district.

Littell's 1845 map of the Passaic Valley shows a survey done of the area by William Penn. Being an important source of lumber, the swamp was divided into wood lots for the purposes of tree harvesting, with lot 1 being the present day Green Village Post Office.

One historic site, the Boisaubin Mansion, built in the early 1800's and now on the National Historic Register, was part of the underground railroad, a system set up to help run-away slaves from the south escape their owners. A tunnel from a barn led to the front of the house where hollowed pillars provided hiding places. The area became the center of the rose growing industry in the latter part of the 19th century, with the part of Chatham Township lying between Shunpike Road and Southern Boulevard known then as Floral Hill. According to the County Heritage Commission's account, a resident revolutionized greenhouse construction and played a major role in the industry.

In that same era, several estates were established in the so-called "Gilded Age," "Dixiedale", the Kirby Estate, the estate on Buxton Road and the Dodge Estate, now known as Giralda Farms. The estate-like setting is still preserved in the Loantaka Valley surrounding the Kirby Estate.

Chatham Township remained rural until well into the 20th Century, when the population escalated very quickly from the 1950's on with construction of several subdivisions, apartment buildings and two shopping centers. The Wickam Way area was the site of the Schwartz dairy farm, with pastures and ponds edging down along the Great Swamp.

  1. Township of Chatham, New Jersey, Master Plan: Historic Preservation, 1999, http://www.chathamtownship-nj.gov, accessed November, 2013.

Nearby Towns: Fanwood Boro • Harding Twp • Madison Boro • Morris Twp • Morristown Town • Summit City • Westfield Town •