Belcher Ogden Mansion

The Belcher Ogden Mansion originally housed the family of Elizabeth Associate John Ogden in the mid-18th century. About 1751 the then royal Governor of New Jersey, Jonathan Belcher, relocated the center of colonial government from Burlington on the Delaware to Elizabeth NJ. He bought the Ogden residence and lived there until his death in 1757. In that time among other important events Belcher strongly supported the creation of a school which became Princeton University. The school’s first president, Rev. Jonathan Dickinson and his successor, the distinguished Protestant minister, Rev. Jonathan Edwards, both visited Belcher at his residence and won his friendship.

In 1758 William Peartree Smith, a grandson of NYC mayor, close friend of NJ’s first Governor William Livingston and himself a member of NJ’s Committee of Correspondence, took ownership of the house. In 1778 his daughter Catherine married Elisha Boudinot, brother of Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress. Alexander Hamilton served as Master of Ceremonies on that occasion and welcomed distinguished guests including Gen George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.

Gov. Jonathan Belcher, from
James I Vaughan’s 19th century portrait

In 1797 Aaron Ogden, a descendent of the original builder of the house, acquired the family property and resided there until his death. In 1812 Ogden, who had served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, became NJ governor. He entertained the Marquis de Lafayette there in 1823, and enjoyed reliving their joint wartime exploits, especially the culminating victory over the British at the Battle of Yorktown.

Later residents of the house included F. B. Chetwood, mayor of Elizabeth (1871-73) in the mid-19th century and US Congressman Amos Clark. The last owner-resident was Warren Dix. For many years the house received the restorative attention of a local businessman, Edward Grassmann and the Elizabeth Historical Foundation.

On November 15, 2005 the Historical Society; Elizabeth NJ Inc formally accepted the deed to this historical property.

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