Take an architectural tour of this 1826 Greek Revival mansion and marvel at its period building style and detail.
The Atsion Mansion was built in 1826, as a summer home for Samuel Richards, a prominent ironmaster from Philadelphia. Richards was the operator of the Atsion furnace along the Mullica River. After Richards died in 1842, the property was passed down through his heirs, and finally sold to another Philadelphia merchant, Maurice Raleigh. The Raleigh family was the last to use the mansion as a residence. When Joseph Wharton purchased the Atsion property in 1892, he cultivated cranberries and used some of the vacant buildings for packing and storing the crop. The State of New Jersey acquired the property in 1955.
State Forest website: Wharton State Forest
The bog iron industry began in the New Jersey Pine Barrens when Charles Read, a local businessman and farmer, involved in all aspects of Colonial New Jersey government, established a forge at Atsion. He also established a furnace at Batsto and ironworks at Aetna (Medford Lakes today) and Taunton (Medford) the same year. These locations were chosen because of three natural resources critical to the iron works process—bog iron, found on the bottoms and banks of the local streams and rivers; plentiful water that could be dammed to operate the bellows; and vast stands of pinewood, which could be turned into charcoal to fuel the furnace. During the American Revolutionary War, the Atsion Forge made products for the Pennsylvania Navy and the Continental Army.
The Atsion Ironworks greatest prosperity came when Samuel Richards, son of William Richards of Batsto, purchased it in 1819. He had iron water pipe cast for the city of Philadelphia and then promptly put the property up for sale. However, as there were no takers, he reopened the works in 1824. The furnace made pig iron to be sold to other forges for further shaping and cast iron products such as firebacks and stoves. The original stoves used to heat Congress Hall in Philadelphia were cast at Atsion. In 1826, Richards built the mansion as a summer home for himself and his family.
Samuel Richards died in 1842 and the property was divided between his two children, Maria and William. Maria inherited the village and mansion, and after her marriage in 1849, her husband William Walton Fleming took over management of those properties. When the iron industry began to fail, he built a papermill that it is believed never operated. By 1862 the property had passed into the hands of William Paterson who attempted to establish a planned farming community, but by 1871, with few plots sold, he declared bankruptcy. A cotton mill was established on the site by the next owner, Maurice Raleigh, and operated until his death in 1882. In 1892, Joseph Wharton bought the property as part of a plan to tap into the local aquifer to source a clean water supply to Philadelphia. When this plan failed, he turned to farming and cranberry cultivation. In 1955 the State of New Jersey bought the property from his heirs as part of the Wharton tract purchase.
A tour of the unfurnished home, restored in the 1960s and again in 2008, focuses on its architecture.
Today, the mansion appears as it did in 1826, built in the Greek Revival architectural style. While it was only meant to be used in the summer, the family entertained quite lavishly when they were there, and the home was built with this in mind. There are fourteen rooms on three floors plus a cellar where the main kitchen is located. Central heat, plumbing and electricity were never added during its long history.
Also on the property are the company store, an early 1900s concrete barn, a schoolhouse built in 1916 and later used as a residence, the 1828 church meant to be used by all denomination, a cottage from the earliest ironworks days and the ruins of the Raleigh cotton mill, which had begun as the Fleming paper mill and ended as a cranberry sorting and packing house in the Wharton era.
Facilities for People with Disabilities
We encourage people with disabilities who require special considerations to contact the historic site / park at the phone number listed in the general information on the home page of the historic site / park. The staff will assist with arrangements. Text telephone (TT) users, please call the NJ Relay Services at (800) 852-7899.
For the Comfort and Enjoyment of All
This historic site / park is part of the NJ State Park system and your cooperation with the following will help ensure the survival of the museum collections, historic structures & features and surrounding property for the enjoyment and education of future generations!
Please contact this historic site / park with specific inquiries about any of these restrictions, as there may be some variations at this specific historic site / park.
744 Route 206, Shamong, NJ 08088
Grounds Hours Please call the site for hours of operation.
Tour Hours Please call the site for hours of operation.
Entrance Fee None