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For immediate release:Jan. 29, 2007
For further information contact:
Winnie Comfort or Tammy Kendig

Opening of the Perth Amboy Exhibit in the Middlesex County Courthouse

Chief Justice James R. Zazzali will be among the speakers at a reception celebrating the opening of an exhibit about historic Perth Amboy, New Jersey's first capital city. The reception is on Feb. 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. on the second floor of the Middlesex County Courthouse. This permanent exhibit showcases Perth Amboy's role in colonial times, as well as its importance in New Jersey and American history.

"I was stunned by the unique and curious maps and documents we were able to find and the fascinating history and law that went with them," said Superior Court Judge Amy Piro Chambers, who chaired the committee that developed the exhibit. "Working on this project has increased my appreciation of the legal principles that go back to the colonial period and the role that Perth Amboy has played in the state's history. In addition, it was wonderful to work with the many enthusiastic and knowledgeable people who lent their support to our efforts," she added.

The exhibit includes a reproduction of the first known map of Perth Amboy, which became the capital of East Jersey in 1684 and served as one of the state's dual capitals once East and West Jersey merged in 1702. The exhibit includes instructions for the interior decoration of the Proprietary House by Governor William Franklin, who required a yellow drawing room to match his yellow damask chairs. A loyalist, the governor and his wife were seized from this dwelling and never saw their house-or each other-again.

During the colonial period, Perth Amboy was the county seat and the site of the Middlesex County Courthouse. The exhibit includes illustrations of the old jail and courthouse that provide details on this period in Perth Amboy's history. Copies of watercolors of waterfront scenes also are on display.

Perth Amboy also was the location chosen for the signing of the federal Bill of Rights by the New Jersey delegation-the first delegation to sign that document. New Jersey's copy of the Bill of Rights, kept under glass at the New Jersey State Archives, was transported to a special facility in Philadelphia that was able to reproduce the document without removing it from its protective glass housing. Another "first" for New Jersey was achieved by Thomas A. Peterson, who became the state's first African-American voter after the adoption of the 15th Amendment; he cast that vote in Perth Amboy. His photograph is on display as part of the exhibit.

The exhibit consists of maps, photographs, paintings and legal documents, many of which include detailed calligraphy, ribbons and seals with accompanying explanatory text. The exhibit was funded by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the New Jersey Historical Commission.

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