A stately wood Greek Revival-style building, Barrow Mansion, or Ionic House, is a reminder of mid-nineteenth-century classical architecture. Five Ionic columns grace a two-story portico. The columns divide the building into four equal bays with an offset center hall. The interior retains some Victorian décor, a ballroom, carved Italian marble fireplaces, and twelve-foot ceilings.
Dr. William Barrow, a New York City physician, purchased one of two similar houses constructed by the second Cornelius Van Vorst on Wayne Street. Van Vorst was one of the founders of the Township of Van Vorst and mayor of Jersey City (1860-to-1861),. Dr. Barrow purchased the mansion at 83 Wayne Street after he married Van Vorst's sister Eliza. Van Vorst resided at 89 Wayne Street. The twin mansions were separated by a lawn near a Van Vorst farmhouse. In 1874, Van Vorst sold his home to Dr. Benjamin Edge, a descendent of one of Jersey City's early businessmen, Isaac Edge. The Van Vorst mansion was razed in the 1920s and replaced by an apartment house.
After the death of Barrow and his wife, the YMCA purchased the mansion in 1890. It was modified with a gymnasium and rifle range. In 1897, St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church purchased it as a parish house. The pistol range in the basement was converted into a two-lane bowling alley. In 1898, a church for St. Matthew's was built on the lawn between the Barrow and Van Vorst mansions. The church flourished until the 1920s. The parish house became the Barrow Mansion--a social center with dances in the ballroom, card parties, and bazaars for the parishioners' leisure-time activities.
For years, the Barrow Mansion suffered from neglect. St. Matthew's congregation then successfully applied for its placement on the state and national registers of historic places. The Barrow Mansion Development Corporation, founded in 1984, has received grants from the New Jersey Historic Trust in 1992 and 1995, and other grantors, for building restoration.
The mansion is used as a community center, the resident theater company Attic Ensemble, and meetings of the Van Vorst Park Neighborhood Association.
Lynwander, Linda. "Restoring a Mansion in Hopes of Higher Rents." New York Times 24 July 1994.
National Register of Historic Places Inventory. "Ionic House." 1977. Joan D. Lovero Collection, New Jersey Room, Jersey City Free Public Library.
Mansion Development Corporation. "Fact Sheet." April 1993. Joan D. Lovero Collection, New Jersey Room, Jersey City Free Public Library.