The Van Wagenen House, informally known as The Apple Tree House, is located at 298 Academy Street in Jersey City. Throughout the year, free lectures and special events are held at the house, and weekly tours are open to the public every Wednesday. Be sure to follow The Apple Tree House on Facebook for additional information on all special events and Apple Tree House updates.
Upcoming Lectures & Special Events:
- August 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm: Immigrant State: Jersey’s Influential Gate
- September 6 – 8, 2019: Speranza Theatre Company presents History Alive! **check back for more information**
**All of our events are uploaded to the Cultural Affairs event calendar, as well as on the Apple Tree House Facebook event page. Within these pages, you will find an Eventbrite link to sign-up in advance, or you can call (201) 547-6921.
All events at The Apple Tree House are free and open to the public and in collaboration with the City of Jersey City. Because space is limited, advanced registration is required for ALL events.
Brief History & Timeline:
The Apple Tree House, more formally known as the Van Wagenen House, was given its name based off of the story of the meeting between General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolution in 1780. Legend claims that while camped in Bergen for three days, Washington and Lafayette dined in the yard “underneath and apple tree” and discussed strategy for French Naval intervention.
- 1660: the Village of Bergen was founded, becoming one of the earliest Dutch settlements in New Jersey. In years to follow, the Dutch continued to share the area with members of the Lenni Lenape Indians
- 1688: Gerrit Gerritsen purchased the land where the Apple Tree House stands today. Gerritsen’s children changed their last name to Van Wagenen shortly thereafter
- Between 1710 – 1721: the oldest part of the house was built, and likely included a storage cellar, large hearth and small attic
- 1842: the single-room house was extended to the east, which created the main hall, parlor, second floor bedrooms and attic space in a Greek revival-style fashion
- 1860: the second floor of the western end of the house was added and constructed in brick, which makes it easy to spot today
- 1947: Funeral Director Lawrence G. Quinn purchased the house from the Van Wagenen family, becoming the second-ever owner
- Early 1980’s: The Quinn family opened the Quinn Funeral Home, which operated through the 80’s, and was the funeral site of many Jersey City officials and community members, including former Mayor Frank Hague and J. Owen Grundy
- 1999: the City of Jersey City purchased the property, including the house
- 2002: renovation and restoration plans begin
- 2006: the house is placed on the State and National Resisters of Historic Places
- November 2017: the house reopens to the public
Missed a lecture? Attended a previous lecture but would like to see it again? No problem! All of the lectures hosted at the house are filmed and uploaded to the website and The Apple Tree House Facebook page. Click through the videos below, courtesy of Jersey City TV:
February 2, 2018: Springsteen & His Layered Lyrics
About: Bruce Springsteen expects attentiveness of his listeners. How do we know this? Over the past 50 years, Springsteen has written songs and created music that have been experienced by countless fans. But many don’t know the extent to which his work has been influenced by the American folk tradition. Through experimental reinterpretation and the creation of new traditions, The Boss has worked within known folk traditions, but at the same time, created new sounds and messages. In this session, participants can learn about some of the works that have influenced one of Jersey’s most celebrated musical artists.
March 22, 2018: Learning New Jersey One Building at a Time
About: the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy and the Jersey City Office of Cultural Affairs presented the lecture “Learning New Jersey…One Building at a Time” with Gabrielle Esperdy at the historic Apple Tree House. The lecture focused on the aesthetics, cultural and economic perspectives, and values and meaning behind New Jersey’s ever-changing landscape.
March 28, 2018: Peace Be Still: Marching in the Footsteps of the Drum Major
About: commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1968 speech at Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in Jersey City, St. Peter’s University Professor of History Dr. John Wesley Johnson delivers a lecture reflecting on the impact of King’s visit to Jersey City, his role within the Civil Rights Movement in the North, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the lasting effects of King’s legacy within our community.
April 24, 2018: A Geographers View of Jersey City
About: using old maps, presenter Luke Schray will show how specific places in Jersey City and Hudson County reveal clues to the forces that shaped them and the land features that have disappeared or are difficult to discern after centuries of human intervention. The talk will cover the surprising ways in which landmarks, ranging from Dickinson High School to the Embankment structure to McGinley Square, call our attention to episodes of change that shaped not only Jersey City but also the United States and the earth itself.
May 10, 2018: UrbEx101: Investigating Abandoned New Jersey
About: A special lecture with historian Luke Boyd, as part of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities’ Public Scholars Project on urban exploration, or UrbEx. So much can be learned from the abandoned spaces in our city, including the ethical aspects of UrbEx.
August 14, 2018: Paulus Hook: Jersey City in the American Revolution
About: The Battle of Paulus Hook was a daring nighttime raid to recapture a British fort in modern-day Jersey City during the American Revolution. General George Washington approved the raid, but when the Americans arrived at the fort, most of the British and their allies had left. In a unique twist, Dr. Richard Winant will examine the Battle from the British perspective on why they left the fort, the battle’s build up, and subsequent aftermath on the American Revolution.
September 13, 2018: The Lenape Indians: Jersey City’s Original Inhabitants
About: Thousands of years before the first Dutch Settlers arrive to modern-day Jersey City, the Lenape Indian tribe called this land their home. The Lenape Indian tribe had developed their own culture, customs, kinship systems, language, and trade. Andrea Proctor, Resource Interpretive Specialist and Historian at Waterloo Village Historic Site, will lecture about the tribe’s history, importance to early New Jersey, and showcase artifacts from the tribe found from excavations at Waterloo Village.
September 25, 2018: Dempsey V. Carpentier: Jersey City’s Million Dollar Fight
About: It was dubbed the “Fight of the Century.” Jack Dempsey, world heavyweight champion, defending his title against Georges Carpentier, World War I Hero. The match was historic for its prize of $1 million, a first in boxing promotion, and revolutionized sports coverage by an emerging technology known as the radio. Henry Hascup, President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and Boxing Historian, will chronicle why Jersey City was chosen as the venue for the championship bout, how the fight changed boxing promotion and the fight’s career impact for Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier.
October 25, 2018: Washington Irving & The Legend of Jersey City
About: Washington Irving is best known for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” but did you know that some of his short stories were set in Jersey City? Luke Boyd, presenter at The Past Personified, will do a dramatic reading of “Guests From Gibbet Island”, one of Irving’s ghost tales that takes place in modern-day Jersey City. David Goodwin, author and trustee at the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, will provide analysis of the piece and speak about Washington Irving’s connection to Jersey City.
November 8, 2018: The Black Tom Explosion: Sabotage in Jersey City
About: In 1916, World War I came to Jersey City. German agents destroyed a munitions depot on Black Tom Island in Jersey City that was meant to supply the Allied Powers in World War I. What happened next is not what you would expect. Ron Semple, author of “Black Tom: Terror on the Hudson,” will discuss the buildup to the Black Tom Incident, the implications of the event on America’s intervention into World War I, and the aftermath of the incident on Jersey City and America.
December 6, 2018: Newark Avenue: Jersey City’s Avenue to the Revolution
About: Newark Avenue was a vital escape route during the American Revolution for the Patriot cause. The road connected vital supply routes for General George Washington and his allies. Brian Murray, local historian, will discuss the road’s importance to the American Revolution and the development of the road after the Revolution to modern day Jersey City.
Stay tuned! There are still more lecture videos to come! Check back soon for: Beyond Bathrooms & Binaries (1/10), New Jersey’s Vital Role in American Independence (2/7), Why We Can’t Put Dystopian Fiction Down (3/12)