Welcome to the Matawan Historical Society

Pride in Our Past & Present

Settled by a group of Scottish Presbyterians beginning in the 1680’s, Matawan was first called New Aberdeen, and then Mount Pleasant. Today, Matawan’s historic town core retains its appeal as a place to live, work, and shop.

Burrowes Mansion 300th Anniversary

Burrowes Mansion Raid 2023On June 3rd and June 4th 2023, the Matawan Historical Society held a historic event honoring the Burrowes Mansion and its 300 years of history.  The festivities included a reenactment of the 1778 Mansion raid by the British (see video here), a self-guided walking tour of the Matawan historic district, tours of the Mansion, and many other activities.  The anniversary was featured in the Asbury Park Press on June 3rd.

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Cliffwood House was opened as a summer season resort on the Raritan Bay in Raritan Township on 20 Jun 1856. The hotel was part of a grand plan for a resort village conceived by Henry L Clarke, of New York, who owned a mansion on a large swath of what is now Cliffwood Beach. The name Cliffwood is said to have been Clarke's daughter's suggestion.

The boxy hotel was four-stories tall and had over sixty guest rooms. Servants slept in a nearby building. Advertisements in New York City newspapers offered guests a quiet spot to swim and relax with easy access by steamer.

While a resort village wouldn't materialize until 1924, Cliffwood House itself was reportedly a popular summer travel spot, at least for a time. The resort operated for about forty years, but there were issues. In 1853, Clarke constructed a sizeable dock to handle steamboats, but sea captains balked at stopping there after finding navigation to the spot treacherous. When the building caught fire in 1873, Keyport citizens saw the blaze and responded. As there was no water to fight the fire, volunteers crossed the harbor in small boats and assisted in the removal of the furniture. Clarke was well insured and rebuilt. He held an auction of the damaged furniture the following year.

When the new railroad line came to Matawan in 1875, it did not bring enough vacationers to fuel his business plan. After Clarke died in 1888, Watson Stillwagon came to own Cliffwood House. A fire in January 1893 destroyed the underinsured building down to the foundation and chased Stillwagon, his daughter, and a housekeeper out of the building in their night clothes. The resort hotel would not be rebuilt.
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Cliffwood House was opened as a summer season resort on the Raritan Bay in Raritan Township on 20 Jun 1856. The hotel was part of a grand plan for a resort village conceived by Henry L Clarke, of New York, who owned a mansion on a large swath of what is now Cliffwood Beach. The name Cliffwood is said to have been Clarkes daughters suggestion. 

The boxy hotel was four-stories tall and had over sixty guest rooms. Servants slept in a nearby building. Advertisements in New York City newspapers offered guests a quiet spot to swim and relax with easy access by steamer. 

While a resort village wouldnt materialize until 1924, Cliffwood House itself was reportedly a popular summer travel spot, at least for a time. The resort operated for about forty years, but there were issues. In 1853, Clarke constructed a sizeable dock to handle steamboats, but sea captains balked at stopping there after finding navigation to the spot treacherous. When the building caught fire in 1873, Keyport citizens saw the blaze and responded. As there was no water to fight the fire, volunteers crossed the harbor in small boats and assisted in the removal of the furniture. Clarke was well insured and rebuilt. He held an auction of the damaged furniture the following year. 

When the new railroad line came to Matawan in 1875, it did not bring enough vacationers to fuel his business plan. After Clarke died in 1888, Watson Stillwagon came to own Cliffwood House. A fire in January 1893 destroyed the underinsured building down to the foundation and chased Stillwagon, his daughter, and a housekeeper out of the building in their night clothes. The resort hotel would not be rebuilt.Image attachmentImage attachment+2Image attachment
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