In 1973, Atlantic Highlands began planning the 200th birthday celebration of the United States in 1976. In March, the borough’s Bicentennial Committee formed the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society to organize this important event. Soon thereafter, 78 charter members met, planned, and offered public lectures on historical topics to stir up interest in local and American history. The next year, the AHHS incorporated as a non-profit organization. Then in 1976, the AHHS was a key factor in the area’s bicentennial program, culminating in the visit of the "Tall Ships" to Sandy Hook Bay just off our breakwaters.
Since our inception, the AHHS has helped preserve our past for the future in a multitude of ways. For example, it restored the neglected historic Henry Hudson Spring in 1977, focused attention through 25 town-wide house tours on the history and restoration of many interesting homes, hosted over 200 expert speakers, helped to define our historic district, published several books including a reprint of “From Indian Trails to Electric Rails", and in 1980, purchased and began the rescue of a deteriorating 21-room Queen Anne-style building originally called "The Towers”, which was built in 1893.
On June 8, 1986, the doors of this building opened to the public and became the Strauss Mansion Museum, our headquarters and home. Its namesake was the first owner, a millionaire importer and businessman named Adolph Strauss, who lived and worked in New York City. This house on the circle, like many others, was constructed as a “summer cottage” for he and his family.
In 2012, with great pride, the Strauss Mansion was listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. We are thrilled to have the support of the New Jersey Historic Trust and the 1772 Foundation, whose matching grants have enabled us to replace several deteriorating features over the years. The Atlantic Highlands Historical Society was able to raise the matching funds due to the generosity of many local donors and benefactors.
Atlantic Highlands is a quaint Victorian town on the New Jersey shore overlooking lower New York Bay with views of Manhattan in the distance. The town as a place of interest can be traced back to the late 1800’s, when its use as a resort area and playland for wealthy New Yorkers via the ferry led to the construction of nearly 70 hotels, vacation homes, and inns, as well as places of fun and relaxation such as beaches for “bathing”, entertainment pavilions, and even an amusement park. In the decades to follow, Atlantic Highlands also became a haven for bootleggers and rum-runners during Prohibition due to its location.
Its hills include Mount Mitchill, the highest point on the eastern seaboard south of Maine. Many of the town’s Victorian homes have been preserved and restored, adding to the charm of small-town living and providing interesting walking tours in the historic district.
Browse the website of the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society to get a taste of the history of our town and perhaps be inspired to visit us at the Strauss Mansion Museum. You can also acquire information on our events, membership, and resources for research.
Monthly programs (which run April through December) include speaker nights on the third Wednesday, a “Music at the Mansion” concert series on the last Thursday, and weekly open-houses for self-guided tours every Sunday from 1-4 PM. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5. We also organize seasonal events throughout the year, such as a fall flea market at the harbor, an arts and crafts fair in the summer, and an October full of spooky events which include haunted tours, folklore presentations, and movie screenings.