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Burnham Park

In 1911 the Burnham Family gave its generous gift of Burnham Park to the Town of Morristown, New Jersey, and carefully articulated their vision for this land,"to provide passive open space for the enjoyment of those who did not have large tracts of land themselves and to provide a natural woodland space for the relaxation of the public."  Today, BPA strives to uphold the Burnham's intentions as a community center for everyone to enjoy. 

First Deed

In 1911, Frederick and Catherine Burnham donated the park to the Town of Morristown with deed restrictions specifying that the Town hold the Park in trust as a public park with the caveat: ​"... as a part of the consideration of this deed of conveyance ... no portion of said tract of land nor any erections that may now be thereon or may hereafter be placed thereon shall be used for any game of ball or any other game or amusement attended by noise or uproar": and that Morristown "shall and will thoroughly improve, regulate and care for said park and premises preserving as much as possible its natural state as woodland and afford all proper care and protection to the same and to all persons who may visit it."

Statement of Intent

In 1911, the Burnhams elaborated on their intent with a statement addressed to then Mayor of Morristown, Hon. Arthur S. Pierson and published in the Daily Record: "Dear Sir: For some three or four years Mrs. Burnham and myself have been discussing the plan of giving a piece of ground, fitted for the purpose, to the Town of Morristown, for a Public Park. In our judgment this should be situated so near the green as to be within easy walking distance of the residences of our town, especially of those which have not much land surrounding them. Our idea has been that this ground should be used not as a playground for the benefit of noisy ball games or such other games as are attended by noise and uproar, but rather as a place where tired families can, during the spring, summer and autumn days, obtain that refreshment which is only obtainable apart from the noise and [con]fusion of a crowd. We have thought that such a piece of ground should contain twenty-five or thirty acres available for walks, resting places, with cool spring water, ponds and streams, where the pleasures of fishing, and boating could be had, and fine trees under whose wide spreading branches mothers could take their children and find the rest and enjoyment which such a park would afford..."

Second Deed

In 1914, an amended deed was issued to allow for some ball playing under very specific conditions, including: "​That no ball playing shall, under any circumstances whatever, be allowed on said grounds or the Park on the first day of the week, called Sunday. That the games so played shall be confined to boys and youths, and in no case shall professionals be permitted to play. That there shall be erected upon said premises no fence, gateway or other structure. That none of said games shall there be charged or accepted by anyone an entrance or attendance fee. That said games shall be, as far as possible, kept free from noise, uproar and confusion." By accepting the change and the new deed, the Town bound itself, its successors and assigns "to fully keep, on its part, said conditions and restrictions" as stated above. In order to further insure Morristown's adherence to these terms, the deed included a reverter clause enabling the heirs to legally reclaim the park should they consider the Town to have violated its side of the agreement."

Reaffirmation of Intent

In 1976 the Town of Morristown approached the Burnham heirs seeking to further amend the deed to permit the addition of more sports facilities in the park. The grandson of Frederick Burnham refused to amend the deed and wrote back to Ms. Eileen M. Cornell, then attorney for Morristown. This excerpt explains the Burnham family's love of history, of nature and their special feeling for Burnham Park. "My grandfather loved the land, the trees, and the ponds, and he thought it was important for the town, which he also loved, to have these thirty green acres preserved for people of all ages whose recreation was not restricted to organized sport. The deed giving the park to the town stated that the park management should be concerned 'preserving as much as possible its natural state as woodland.' If this was important then, it is doubly so now."

Burnham Park 2023 Revitalization Plan

Morristown, NJ
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Burnham Park 1932

Burnham Park Pond Fall BPA

Burnham Park Today

 Burnham Park Today

There is a deliberate wild section to the park which includes wetlands, riparian buffers, and aerators to help maintain the "natural state" sought by the Burnhams. 

Burnham Park has many amenities to support the community.

  • 2 Playgrounds

  • Pavillions

  • Ponds 

  • Fishing  spots

  • Walking paths

  • Historic fireplace

  • Picnic tables

  • Swimming, diving, kiddie pools 

  • Facilities building

  • 2 ball fields

  • Basketball courts​

  • Batting cages

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