Old Town Hall Museum/Harrison Township Historical Society Inc.
Mullica Hill, NJ. 08062
Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Friday Closed/Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm
Admission: Free but a donation would be appreciated.
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Old Town Hall Museum/Harrison County Historical Society
The Harrison Township Historical Society/Old Town Hall Museum
This new exhibition commemorates the 2021 Hurricane Ida Tornado through first-person narratives, artifacts, video and photography.
The Mission of the Old Town Hall Museum/Harrison Township Historical Society Inc.:
(from the Museum pamphlet)
Since its founding in 1971, the Harrison Township Historical Society has presented exhibitions, events, programs and publications focusing on the heritage of South Jersey in Mullica Hill’s Old Town Hall that was built in 1871.
The Stone Age in Harrison Township and Living Off the Land: Food, Farms and Families, explore the region’s Paleo-Indian heritage and our local foodway and farming traditions. The Raccoon Valley General Store and the Harrison Academy Schoolroom recreate two rural institutions.
We also present seasonally changing special exhibitions, student programs and unique special events like the annual Groundhog Dinner (featuring local sausage-“ground” hog!) and the popular Mullica Hill Ghost Walk in October. Visit https://www.harrisonhistorical.com/ for news and information.
Come and experience our Heritage!
(from the Museum website)
In 1971 the Township Committee of Harrison Township under the leadership of Mayor Philip J. Reuter, appointed a committee whose purpose was to form a historical society that would lead a community effort to preserve and provide a new purpose for Mullica Hill’s historic Old Town Hall.
Since that time the Harrison Township Historical Society has successfully met this initial charge, not only preserving the building (a key contributing structure in the Mullica Hill National Register Historic District), but also establishing a museum that has won state and national awards for its exhibitions, programs and publications.
The “Living off the Land” exhibition shows life on the farm in Southern New Jersey. This exhibition shows life on a South Jersey farm from the late 1600’s to today with some of the equipment, commercial items and furniture showing the lifestyle on the farm. This first floor exhibition gives us a peek at what life is like in the day of a farming family.
The main room on the first floor of the museum is broken down into sections. In the special gallery space is the exhibition “Tornado” about the tornado that hit the surrounding area during Hurricane Ida in 2021. The exhibition gives first hand accounts of what happened and people’s experiences and the clean up.
In the Main Room when you enter is the Raccoon General Store and the Harrison Academy schoolroom showing what life was like in rural Southern New Jersey.
Raccoon General Store:
All sorts of everyday items were sold in the General Store which was also a gathering place for the town’s citizens. This is where you would catch up with your neighbors at a time before telephones.
Everyday items would be found in the General Store
Everything could be bought at the General Store for the house with special trips into the City during the holidays or for special occasions
Household items at the General Store
In the back of the General Store is the exhibition of the Harrison Academy Schoolhouse showing teaching in rural New Jersey up until about 60 years ago. These rural communities had the one room school in some cases up until WWII. As the areas developed, the regionalized school system came into play and these small schools became of thing of the past.
The schoolroom set up has not changed much over the last 100 years
The room was still heated by the potbelly stove
The Teacher’s Desk, the globe and picture of the President still exists in the classroom today
In the center room is the old Post Office, another fixture of the town’s social life. This was located in Mullica Hill up until fifty years ago.
The Mullica Hill Post Office
The entrance to the hall with the Post Office and Farm Equipment
The facade of the old Post Office
The back part of the exhibition is the farm equipment that would be used in commercial farming. The processing and packaging of fruits and vegetables would have been done when the harvest was being picked and getting ready for markets in New York, Philadelphia and Newark. Fruits and vegetables were packaged on the farm and readied for market.
Life on the farm was not always easy
All sorts of equipment for processing fruits and vegetables is on display
All the bailing and shifting equipment needed on a farm
Packaging fruits and vegetables for the market
Life on the Farm
The second floor also provides not just a look into the life of the farming family but at the Native American’s life in the area before the colonist settlement.
The artifacts of the Native American Lenape Indians
The local Native Americans the Lenapehoking
Day to day equipment and home products of the Native Americans
Arrowheads from New Jersey and beyond
Family life on the farm included the family dinner
Meals would have included churning butter, gathering eggs, milking cows, processing apples for cider, baking and pickling.
Preparing for a meal would have meant the best linens and china would come out of storage and placed on the table.
Families sat down together on Sundays to eat and enjoy each others company.
More processing of household items
The museum shows that not much has changed over the years but with the advent of modern technology with cars, the telephone and electricity, life on the farm changed but not by much. Traditions and processing crops still had to be done just differently. Life in America was going to change by the beginning of the Twentieth Century and this way of life would be part of the ‘myth’ of small town living. This still does exist in some parts of the rural country.
It is a great little museum with a lot to see on two floors.
History of the Museum:
*People have been living in present day Harrison Township for over 10,000 years.
*Harrison Township originally included South Harrison and the western edge of Elk.
*The Township was named after President William Henry Harrison.
*There is a village called Mullica Hill in Finland.
*The first air shipment of fresh produce in the US took off from here.