While four of the five historical houses owned by Monmouth County Historical Association have ties to the Revolutionary War, this house represents the Civil War era. Joseph Dorset Taylor and Mary Holmes Taylor, first cousins and proud descendants of the Taylors of Middletown, decided to move back to Middletown and build an imposing new house on an inherited family farm (one including Marlpit Hall). The outcome was a restrained Italianate residence, named “Orchard Home” but now called the Taylor-Butler House, built in 1853. It reflected the success that Joseph Taylor had achieved as a merchant in the China Trade. They furnished their new home with items from China mixed with Taylor family heirlooms.
The house, with its broad stair hall, spacious rooms, high ceilings, and exceptional architectural detailing, was an elegant testimony to the family’s traditions and to mid-19th century taste. At the time of its construction, the Taylor-Butler House was considered the grandest house in Middletown, a distinction it richly deserved. After the death of the last Mary Holmes Taylor in 1930, Orchard Home stood vacant for ten years.
The Kramer family purchased the home in 1941 and installed modern plumbing, electricity, and a hot water heating system but otherwise left the structure’s architectural character largely alone. In 1954, George and Alice Butler – noted for their community involvement and hospitality – took possession of this gracious home. The Monmouth County Historical Association acquired this historic site and five acres in 1999 from the estate of George Butler. Today, the house serves as a gallery space to showcase MCHA’s extensive art collection, with a special nod to artists from the immediate area. In addition, the Taylor-Butler House is available to rent for weddings, gatherings, parties, and other special events. Together, the two Taylor houses – Taylor-Butler and Marlpit Hall – offer a unique historical and cultural resource to benefit the Middletown community and Monmouth County at large.
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