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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Old Barracks - Officers House
A Revolutionary War "soldier" shares his memories of fighting the British. Photo courtesy of Old Barracks Museum

Old Barracks Museum

During the French and Indian War, from 1755 and 1763, British soldiers were sent to North America to aid colonists. Because British soldiers were quartered in people's houses, the New Jersey colonial government built five barracks in different towns for the soldiers. During the Revolutionary War, the barracks sheltered American troops and were used as a military hospital to inoculate soldiers against smallpox. Only the Trenton Barracks, built in 1758, still remains as a restored museum.

In 1776, Trenton was a manufacturing town of 100 buildings and 1,000 people, located on the main trade route between Philadelphia and New York. Toward the end of the Revolutionary War, between December 8, 1776 and January 3, 1777, two battles were fought in Trenton and the town changed hands five times. When the campaign began, the Americans, led by General George Washington, were being driven out of New Jersey. When it ended, the British had lost effective control of the colony.

With the support of several patriotic women, many who were Daughters of the American Revolution, the Old Barracks Association brought the south section of the barracks in 1902, and opened it as a museum in 1903. The state of New Jersey bought the north section in 1914 for the museum. Throughout the year, the museum offers special events, including celebrations of the Battles of Trenton, George Washington's birthday, African-American history, and women's history. Historical interpreters, wearing period dress, explain colonial and Revolutionary New Jersey. The museum's 1998 restoration re-created the barracks and hospital rooms, which are used for special school programs. The museum also has an interactive history lab, where students and the public can "visit" the workshops of the historian, curator, the historic architect, and the archaeologist.

Documentation includes photographs and brochures.

Originally submitted by: Christopher H. Smith, Representative (4th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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