The Drake House, Plainﬁeld’s historic link with its colonial past, was built in 1746 by Isaac Drake as a home for his son, Nathaniel. Today it is a city-owned public museum administered by the Historical Society of Plainﬁeld.
It was at the Drake House that George Washington consulted with his officers during and after the Battle of Short Hills fought over the entire Plainﬁeld area (present day Ash Brook Golf Course, Scotch Plains) on June 25-27, 1777. Nathaniel Drake, his wife, Dorothy, and his daughters Sarah and Phebe, were all patriots. Their sons, Abraham, Cornelius and Isaac, served in the Essex and Somerset Counties militia, and their freed slave, Caesar, was a Wagoner with the Continental forces. Washington and his ofﬁcers were often entertained here when they were in the area on military maneuvers.
The original farmhouse was a typical New Jersey one-and-a-half-story building, with four rooms and a lean-to kitchen on the ﬁrst ﬂoor, and a loft. In 1864, it was purchased from the Drake family by John S. Harberger of New York City, president of the Manhattan Banking Company which later became the Chase Manhattan Bank. Harberger made many architectural changes in accordance with current Victorian tastes. He extended the downstairs hall, and added the library. By raising the roof, he made the loft into a music room, and the towers he built completed the architectural style we see today.