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RING FOR SERVICE : At Liberty Hall, a mannequin depicts a lady’s maid serving tea in the parlor. Right: The restored exterior of the former Kean family man- sion, and servants in the dining room.
[ P L A C E S ] BY MARCIA WORTH-BAKER
Liberty Hall: Downton in Jersey
DETAILS MATTER AT DOWNTON ABBEY, where Carson the
butler aligns salad plates on the dinner table against a silver
ruler. The same is true in New Jersey at the former Kean family
estate on the campus of Kean University in Union.
From the splendor of a governor’s front parlor to the modest attic rooms that housed the servants, Liberty Hall is on
display to the public for a Downton Abbey-inspired exhibit.
“Ring for Service: The Role of Servants in a Country House,”
open through November 2013, shows, for the first time, all four
floors of the former Kean family estate.
PHOTOS: BEN GANCSOS/KEAN UNIVERSIT Y
Fans of the popular British television series will see familiar sights at Liberty Hall, says William Schroh Jr., director of
museum operations. The house was built on the site in 1772
for William Livingston, first governor of New Jersey; over the
years, the home has been expanded into today’s 50-room Victorian mansion that has housed the Kean political dynasty—
ancestors of former governor Tom Kean and state Senator Tom
Kean Jr. (neither of whom lived in the home).
“We felt that the real stars of the show Downton Abbey
are the servants,” says Schroh, noting the exhibit’s focus on
the downstairs, rather than the upstairs residents of Liberty
Hall. Each period-decorated room has uniformed mannequins
posed as though serving tea or inviting guests to leave a calling
card on a silver tray.