New Jersey demolition and renovation project uncovers 200-year-old wine

Crews discovered nearly three cases and 42 demijohns of wine dating back to the 1700s.

July 17, 2017
CDR Staff
Concrete and Aggregates Demolition

Three cases of wine and 42 demijohns more than 200 years old were found at a museum at Kean University in Union County, New Jersey, during a demolition and restoration project,a report by says. The collection is now the largest known collection in the U.S.

During the six-month project which began in October 2015, the museum discovered almost three cases of Madeira wine from 1796 and about 42 demijohns from the 1820s, the article states.

Renovation of the Liberty Museum began in October 2015 with the goal to “walk visitors through every era of American history,” the report says. It included rebuilding the antique wine racks and renovating the museum’s wine cellar.

The wine racks were enclosed before renovations began, which the report says could have been done by the Kean family during prohibition. The museum discovered the original brick flooring that had been covered by concrete during the renovation. The report says the bottom shelf of the wine rack was rebuilt to reinforce the concrete. Contractors removed the extra wall and restored a wooden section to create a display space.

The site was originally constructed in 1760 as a country home for New Jersey’s first elected governor, William Livingston. The Kean family took over the original estate in 1811 and multiple generations of the family stayed there until 1973, when the site was designated as a National Historic Landmark. According to the report, the family continues to preserve the home.

The museum is set up to show progression of styles from 1772 on, the report says. The parlor dates to the Victorian era and renovations to an upstairs bedroom will resemble a room Alexander Hamilton stayed in while visiting the site in 1773.