A Beaux-Arts Architecture Tour of New Jersey

Hoboken Terminal | © ArnoldReinhold / WikiCommons
Hoboken Terminal | © ArnoldReinhold / WikiCommons
Photo of Katherine Oakes
8 February 2018

The Beaux-Arts architectural style, heralding from the pre-Depression era (about 1880–1930), captivated Americans at the time. Known for its grandiose structures with extravagant details, architects Richard Morris Hunt and Henry Hobson Richardson brought the style over after studying at France’s École des Beaux-Arts. Although these large and elaborate buildings are no longer being built, you can easily find them all throughout New Jersey.

Florham Mansion

Building, University
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Florham Mansion
Florham Mansion | © Profdarden / WikiCommons
The Vanderbilt family were huge supporters of Beaux-Arts architecture and built many structures in this style. The Florham Mansion was constructed for the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Florence Vanderbilt, who lived in this estate in Madison, New Jersey, with her husband. The Farleigh Dickinson University now owns the building.

Elizabeth Public Library

Building, Library
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Elizabeth Public Library
Elizabeth Public Library | © Jruizalvarez / WikiCommons
One of the 36 libraries in America that were commissioned by Andrew Carnegie, the Elizabeth Public Library is a historic building that’s still in use today. Its regal design and large stature show off the characteristics that are typical of the Beaux-Arts style, and today, it contains over 340,000 books that are currently in circulation.

Newark City Hall

At the heart of Newark, the City Hall boasts an impressive five stories of grandiose Beaux-Arts architecture and designs. Complete with a golden dome, marble staircase, and stained-glass skylights, it is a perfect depiction of this extravagant style.

Newark City Hall | © Alexisrael / WikiCommons

Newark Public Library

A hub for community and culture, the Newark Public Library set trends both inside and outside of the architectural realm. In addition to its Beaux-Arts style, it held literary collections for immigrants and was the first of its kind to offer a “Business Branch” for the business community.

Hoboken Terminal

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Hoboken Terminal | © King of Hearts / WikiCommons
Another Hoboken building that made it onto the National Register of Historic Places is the Hoboken Terminal. In its heyday, this transit hub was one of the finest Beaux-Arts structures when it was built in 1907. Since then, its lavish details, oversized columns and stained-glass features have survived floods, storms, train crashes, and the daily metro commute.

Murry Guggenheim House

Library, School, University
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A pinnacle of the Neo-Baroque style thanks to its stately Palladian arches that swoop outwards and its elegant white stucco, the Murry Guggenheim House was inspired by one of the many structures of Versailles. Formerly a summer residence for members of the Guggenheim family, it was acquired by Monmouth University and now serves as the school’s library.