In 1740, a man named Samuel Miller built a clapboard farmhouse for his bride, Sabra, in the West Fields of Elizabeth Town along an Indian trail. The family owned about 100 acres of land, stretching to what is now downtown Westfield. In 1784, Joseph Cory, part of another prominent local family, purchased the house, which remained in the Cory family for another 137 years.
The small farmhouse still stands at 614 Mountain Avenue in Westfield and is now known as the Miller-Cory House Museum. Fully restored, it is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places and as a site on the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail. As a living history museum, its mission is to preserve our early American heritage by interpreting the daily life and seasonal work on a New Jersey farm.
On open Sundays during its season, docents present special programs for children, adults and families. Visitors on Sundays also have the opportunity to tour the museum, which has been furnished using Joseph Cory’s inventory as a guideline. The museum grounds contain a number of gardens with typical early American plantings, as well as an outhouse or “necessary,” a corncrib, and a cookhouse, the Frazee Building. All of the structures date to the 18th century. Of special interest is the museum’s unique open-hearth cooking program. Each autumn and spring, members of the Cooking Committee demonstrate the preparation of dishes over the open hearth, using seasonal ingredients and 18th century recipes and cooking techniques.
The museum is also an historical resource for schools, Scout troops, and other community groups. The museum may be booked for group tours during the week as well as for a special program called the Showcase of 18th Century Skills. The Showcase brings costumed volunteers to local schools and other groups to demonstrate colonial era crafts and to discuss or re-enact 18th century life in New Jersey. And finally, volunteers are available to bring their expertise to customizing programs by request, which may be held either at the museum or off-site.