The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) is an organization devoted to furthering an appreciation of our national heritage through historic preservation, patriotic service and educational projects. The NSCDA was founded in 1891 and exists today as an unincorporated association of 45 corporate state societies with more than 15,000 members worldwide.
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of New Jersey (NSCDA-NJ) is committed to the stewardship of its museum properties, Peachfield and the Old Schoolhouse. The Colonial Dames desire to preserve the buildings, lands and collections to enrich and enlighten a diverse public. The story of change at these properties will be told to encourage the understanding of architectural, agricultural and educational values through time.
Our Museum Properties
The New Jersey Society, founded in 1892, maintains two museum properties: Peachfield in Westampton, New Jersey and the Old Schoolhouse in Mount Holly, New Jersey. We invite you to visit and learn about New Jersey’s Quaker roots and heritage at both of these historic sites. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Peachfield is a restored farm house originally built in 1725, with an addition erected on the west side of the home completed in 1732. The name “Peachfield” comes from the property’s first settler, John Skene, the first Freemason resident on record in the colonies, who purchased and named the 300-acre property in the late 17th century.
Upon Skene’s death in 1695, Henry Burr purchased the property. Later, Henry built the east portion of the home in 1725. His son John Burr built the west portion in 1732. The home remained in the Burr family for 200 years. In 1931, Norman and Miriam Harker purchased Peachfield. The house had virtually been destroyed by fire two years earlier. They engaged the services of R. Brognard Okie, a well-known Philadelphia architect, to restore the home in the colonial revival style which became popular in the early 20th century. Three years prior to her death in 1965, Mrs. Harker bequeathed Peachfield and its surrounding 120 acres of land to The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of New Jersey.
Now used as the Society’s state headquarters, the Dames of New Jersey have honored Mrs. Harker’s wish to keep the property as it “has always been,” and have maintained Peachfield as a house museum. Surrounding lands adjacent to the house are still farmed as they have been for more than 300 years.
Located at 180 Burrs Road, Westampton, NJ.
The Old Schoolhouse
Built in 1759, the Old Schoolhouse is recognized as the oldest surviving one-room schoolhouse in the State of New Jersey on its original foundation. Located on the south side of Brainerd Street in Mount Holly, the Old Schoolhouse was built through the efforts of 21 local citizens, who each bought 25 shares to buy land and build a schoolhouse. For the next half-century, the school was maintained by the original founders and their descendants.
In 1815, the school was deeded to the Female Benevolent Society. The group proposed to teach “in a public school, all the poor children of Mount Holly and its vicinity gratis.” In the ensuing years, many local children received their education in the school. After the state established free public schools in 1848, the Old Schoolhouse was used as a private school and for other educational purposes. In 1951, the Female Benevolent Society turned the building over to the Colonial Dames of New Jersey for preservation and restoration.
Today, the Old Schoolhouse is open to the public on select days and by appointment. Children, students, and visitors experience life in an 18th century school setting. Costumed docents conduct class trips, tours, and education workshops to interested members of the public.
Located at 35 Brainerd Street, Mount Holly, NJ
For more information on our historic museum properties, or to find out more on public programs, events, and happenings at Peachfield and the Old Schoolhouse, visit us at peachfield.org