The distinctive Greek Revival building known both as the Barrow Mansion and the Ionic House is a stately reminder of classical architecture popular in the mid-nineteenth century. The wood structure has five Ionic columns gracing a two-story portico. The columns divide the building into four equal bays, effecting an offset center hall. The interior of late Federal-early Greek Revival style with some Victorian décor features a ballroom, carved Italian marble fireplaces and twelve-foot ceilings.
It was owned by Dr. William Barrow, a New York City physician, probably between 1835 and 1837, and was one of two similar homes constructed on Wayne Street by the second Cornelius Van Vorst. He was one of the founders of the Township of Van Vorst and mayor of Jersey City from 1860-to-1861. Dr. Barrow purchased the 83 Wayne Street property after he married Van Vorst's sister Eliza. Van Vorst himself resided at 89 Wayne Street. The twin mansions were separated by a lawn and stood near the site of an early Van Vorst family 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 demolished in the 1920s and replaced by an apartment house.
After the demise of Barrow and his wife, the mansion was sold to the YMCA in 1890 and was modified with a gymnasium and rifle range. St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church purchased the former Barrow residence in 1897 as a parish house. The pistol range was later converted to a two-lane bowling alley in the basement. The following year St. Matthew's Church was built on the lawn between the Barrow and Van Vorst mansions. The church flourished until the 1920s and the former mansion and parish house became a lively and popular social center. Dances in the ballroom as well as card parties and bazaars supplied leisure-time activities for parishioners.
Over the years the Barrow Mansion had suffered from neglect until St. Matthew's congregation successfully applied for it to be placed on the state and national registers of historic places. It allowed for the founding of the Barrow Mansion Development Corporation in 1984 that received grants in 1992 and 1995 from the New Jersey Historic Trust and other grantors for building restoration. The mansion is currently used as a community center and is the home of the Attic Ensemble, a resident theater company. The building also serves as the venue for the monthly 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.