Historic Speedwell
333 Speedwell Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
(973) 285-6550

Places Nearby:
Fosterfield's Historical Farm
The Morris Museum
Raptor Trust
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Somerset County Environmental Education Center
Leonard J. Buck Garden
More in:

Other States:

Historic Speedwell is a National Historic Landmark preserving part of Stephen Vail's Homestead Estate. On this site, the prosperous Speedwell Iron Works forged portions of the engine for the SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. The property included Vail's home, a farm, and the ironworks complex.

The most significant event linked to the site occurred in 1837, when Alfred Vail, Stephen's son, contracted with Samuel F.B. Morse to help perfect the electro-magnetic telegraph. Setting up shop at Speedwell, the pair developed a working model and language which was demonstrated on January 11, 1838.

The Iron Works closed in 1873 and the remaining buildings were destroyed by fire in the early 20th century. However, the historic site of Historic Speedwell still includes the Vail House, the Factory Building, several outbuildings, and three houses moved to the site from downtown Morristown in the 1960s.

Today the nine buildings comprise a museum whose collections capture the flavor of life at Speedwell during the early 19th century. They include

  • The Vail House, now a furnished, interpreted historic house museum
  • The Factory Building, a newly restored National Historic Landmark where the first public demonstration of the electromagnetic telegraph took place
  • The Wheel House, which houses an operational 24-foot overshot waterwheel
  • The Granary, with hand-crafted wooden farm tools and ice-harvesting equipment on display
  • and the Homestead Carriage House, the home of the Speedwell Iron Works: A History of Workers and Work exhibit.

Historic Speedwell offers an excellent opportunity for history lovers to learn more about the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and telecommunications. Students of architecture, art, and science will also find the site a compelling resource. In addition, the site is host of a wide variety of public programs and special events throughout the season. Call for more information and a calendar.

School Programs for kindergarten through grade 12 include workshops, educational activities, and interactive guided tours, each focusing on an important aspect of the history of the site, such as the development of the electromagnetic telegraph, the Iron Works, and the life of Stephen Vail and his family, among other topics.

Hours: Open April thru June, Wednesday thru Saturday 10 am - 5 pm. Open July thru October, Wednesday thru thru Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday 12 Noon - 5 pm. Last tour begins at 3:30 pm. Call to confirm hours and admission before visiting.
Adults $6.00
Seniors $5.00
Children 4 - 16 $4.00
Children under 4 FREE
Groups: School Programs: $100 per class. Call to confirm.
Group Reservations: Advance reservations recommended for group. Call.
Lunch: Local restaurants. Picnic area available.
Handicapped Access: Partial.
Directions: George Washington Bridge to I-80 West to Rt. 202 South into Morristown. Speedwell is on 202, watch for signs. About an hour from the George Washington Bridge.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.