William Trent built his country estate north of Philadelphia, in New Jersey, at the Falls of the Delaware River about 1719. It is a large, imposing brick structure, built in the newest fashion of the time. An “allee” of English cherry trees led from the entrance down to the ferry landing. Nearby, there were numerous outbuildings as well as grist, saw and fulling mills along the Assunpink Creek. In 1720 Trent laid out a settlement, which he incorporated and named “Trenton.”
A number of different people have resided in the Trent House during its long history. After Trent died, his son James sold “300 acres plus the brick dwelling house” to William Morris of Barbados who was the half-brother of his father’s second wife, Mary Coddington Trent. In 1742 the house was leased to the first Governor of New Jersey, Lewis Morris. Gov. Morris used the house, then called “Bloomsbury Court,” as his official residence until 1746, despite the fact that it was then owned by the Governor of Pennsylvania, George Thomas.
During the American Revolution, the Trent House was occupied by Hessian forces and played a prominent role in several battles fought at Trenton during December of 1776. Later, Dr. William Bryant, the owner of the property, was expelled for his Tory sympathies. Colonel John Cox, a wealthy Philadelphia patriot and Deputy Quartermaster General of the Continental Army, acquired the house and turned the grounds into a supply depot for Washington’s army.
The house returned to prominence in 1835 when Philemon Dickerson, a well-known Jacksonian Democrat, purchased it. The following year he was elected Governor and used the Trent House as his Official Residence.
Again in 1854 it served as the Official Residence of the Governor when the property was purchased by Governor Rodman McCamley Price. Price, a Democrat, made his fortune in the San Francisco Gold Rush of 1849, returning to New Jersey to enter politics.
The last private owner of the Trent House, Edward A. Stokes, donated the building to the City of Trenton in 1929 with the condition that it be returned to its appearance during the William Trent era and be used as a library, art gallery or museum.
After extensive restoration, the Trent House opened as a museum in 1939. Today it is owned and maintained by the City of Trenton, and operated by the Trent House Association. The William Trent House is a designated National Historic Landmark and is listed in both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.