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Historic Speedwell

333 Speedwell Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

T: (973) 285 - 6550

Hours:
M-F: Open seasonally from April through October
Sat-Sun: Open seasonally from April through October

Directions

Amenities

Discover the “Birthplace of the Telegraph” and Morristown’s unique role in the Industrial Revolution.  The buildings and landscape at this historic site capture the flavor of life in the mid-19th Century. The site preserves the remarkable industrial legacy of Stephen Vail, proprietor of Speedwell Iron Works. Within the Factory Building, now a National Historic Landmark, Stephen Vail’s son, Alfred, and Samuel F.B. Morse, perfected the electro-magnetic telegraph and sent the first telegraphed message in 1838.

Plan your Visit

Admission to Historic Speedwell begins at the Visitor Center located in the L’Hommedieu House (white building, ½ way up the path), which features rotating exhibition galleries, a museum gift shop, class room/meeting space and public restrooms.  

General Admission: $5 per person, 5 and under free of charge, excluding special events.
Season: April 1 – October 31
Hours: Thursdays and Saturdays 10am – 4pm
Last admission: 3pm

General admission includes our permanent exhibits on the history of the telegraph and the Speedwell Ironworks, historic demonstrations and crafts with our staff, and a guided tour of the Vail House.

Before Your Arrive:

  • Follow us on social media for special event, demonstration, program, and tour updates.  

Vail House Tour: On Saturdays and Sundays, step into Morristown’s past with our guided tour of the Vail House. Our new tour showcases fully furnished period rooms that tell the story of the people who called Speedwell home through the 19th and early 20th century. Tours begin on the hour and last approximately 30 minutes.

Please Remember:

  • Take photos! Photography for personal use is allowed, provided it does not disrupt other visitors. Commercial photography and filming, and similar types of photography require a permit. To obtain a permit contact tours@morrisparks.net
  • Read notices posted on the trail head.
  • Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes is strictly prohibited.

Before Your Arrive:

  • Explore our website’s calendar of events!
  • Follow us on social media for special event, demonstration, program, and tour updates. 
  • Dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring water, a hat, sunscreen, and bug spray as needed. Insects, including ticks, bees, and mosquitoes, are part of our ecosystem.
Maps

Or try MCPC Explorer, a web-based, interactive, experience, where you can view your current location, search parks by activity/amenity, find trails by permitted uses, easily download offline maps to your mobile device and more!

Programs & Activities
  • Take a guided tour
  • See the massive 24-Foot waterwheel in action
  • Enjoy seasonal programs and special events
  • Educational opportunities for groups, schools, and scouts
History

Historic Speedwell, the homestead of Judge Stephen Vail, is the site at which Vail’s son, Alfred, in partnership with Samuel F.B. Morse, perfected the electro-magnetic telegraph. On the second floor of the Factory Building, the very first public demonstration was conducted, and the first telegraphed message, “A patient waiter is no loser,” was sent in January 1838.

From the moment Stephen Vail reached adulthood through his death at age 84 in 1864, virtually every aspect of his life reflected his commitment to civics and the advancement of society. As a judge, farmer, industrialist, husband (to three wives) and father (to six children), Stephen Vail’s influence is felt on a local, national and global scale. Prime examples of his work include:

  • •Building sections of the engine for the first trans-Atlantic steamship, the S.S. Savannah.
  • •Inventing a tank feeder enabling trains to ascend steep inclines.
  • •Financing the partnership between his son, Alfred, and Samuel F.B. Morse.   

Historic Speedwell was organized as “Speedwell Village” in 1966 as a non-profit, historic site. In the late 1960’s, three historic Morristown Structures (Moses Estey House, Ford Cottage, and L’Hommedieu House) were moved to the site to save them from demolition, regarded as one of the first major examples of historic preservation in Morris County. The Morris County Park Commission acquired the property in 2002 and opened it to the public in 2003.