The Towers / Strauss Mansion / The Atlantic Highlands Historical Society

27 Prospect Circle
Atlantic Highlands
NJ 07716

The Towers / Strauss Mansion / The Atlantic Highlands Historical Society

Historical Feature

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27 Prospect Avenue
The Towers / Strauss Mansion
Queen Anne

Built in 1894 and known as "The Towers," the house is now called Strauss Mansion after its first owner. It serves as museum and library of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. It is the only Victorian mansion in the Queen Anne style open to the public in Monmouth County.

Architecturally, this is prime example of an elaborate Queen Anne style summer cottage. It has two stories of wrap around porches on three sides. The third story's eccentric roof line has multiple peaks, dormers, gables, gambrels, and intersecting hips. Two conical roofed towers, of four and three stories respectively, are on the northwest and southwest corners. natural wood shingles cover most of the exterior. Its 2 1/2 stories contain 21 rooms in an irregular plan, with seven stained glass windows.

Geographically, the house sits on a steeply pitched lot near the summit of the old town, with commanding views over the bay and historic district. It is part of the "The Circle" of wealthy summer residents from New York City who built cottages on Prospect Circle.

Culturally, it represents the life style of a coastal resort town from Monmouth County's "Golden Age" -- next to the bay and ocean. At the same time, it was within easy reach of the great New York metropolis by steamer boat and train.

Historically, it reflects not only the house design, but also the home life, social and community patterns of the Victorian boom era. Visitors can experience this by seeing its internal furnishing and decoration and studying the museum materials it displays. Opening hours are 1 to 4 pm Sundays, June through September, and other times by appointment.

Restoration: Boarded up and destines for wrecking in 1980, it was saved by the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society, going from urgent rescue, through rehabilitation, to restoration still in progress. many community efforts since then have brought the mansion back to life as an historic resource and museum on all eras of local history -- Lenape, colonial, Federal, Victorian, and modern. This revival has been supported by community donations, volunteer labor, fund-raising events, member dues, and grants from the Monmouth County Historical Commission.

People: The house was built by Adolph Strauss, a New York merchant, as a summer home for him, his wife Jeanette, seven sons and daughters, and brother Nathan. In the winter they lived on East 49th Street in Manhattan. The house was sold in 1905 after Adolph died.

This hill top neighborhood has a mix of beautiful homes whose period details have been preserved. It evokes memories of an earlier time, when life was more gentle, a bit slower, and leisurely neighborhood strolls invited passersby to linger for a while. Most of the houses began their existence as summer cottages for the well-to-do at a time when Atlantic Highlands was becoming popular as a seaside resort and summer home away from home. Several original owners called themselves the "the 49ers" because they lived on East 49th Street in Manhattan during other seasons -- perhaps also commemorating the Gold Rush? In the middle of Prospect Circle is land jointly owned as a park.

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