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The Arboretum at Liberty Hall

Arboretum at Liberty Hall hedges

The Arboretum at Liberty Hall


Liberty Hall’s storied history began in 1760 when a large tract of land in Elizabethtown, New Jersey was purchased by William Livingston, a prominent New York attorney intending to retire from public life, take up farming and embrace the solitude of country life.   Livingston became New Jersey’s first elected Governor in 1776 and, although his retirement plans were upended by the American Revolution, his keen interest in botany and agriculture never waned. The house he built on the property was lived in by his descendants, the Kean family, until 1995.  As each generation of residents added to the exquisite planting schemes Livingston laid out, a truly unique garden took shape making Liberty Hall a living archive of over 250 years of American garden design.  Liberty Hall opened as a museum and historic garden in 2000 in accordance with the wishes of its last resident, Mary Alice Barney Kean.

Trees and plants are carefully chosen to incorporate the intent of Liberty Hall’s former residents.  The arboretum at Liberty Hall is home to some of New Jersey’s most historically significant trees including a horse chestnut planted in 1770 by one of Livingston’s daughters, as well as Bartlett and Seckel Pear trees dating from the 18th century. Liberty Hall is located on the campus of Kean University and provides research opportunities to its faculty and students. The grounds surrounding Liberty Hall still give testimony to the Livingston and Kean families love of nature and dedication to historical preservation.  

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