The Man Behind Liberty Hall Museum
Bill Schroh, Director of Operations, Liberty Hall Museum.
By Anthony Muccigrossi
The man behind Liberty Hall Museum sports a gray sweater with an American flag bow tie, looking like an American History historian. This man is Bill Schroh, the Director of Operations at Liberty Hall Museum.
Schroh began his journey in history while he was a college student at State University of New York College at Buffalo, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education. Schroh became the director with the creation of Liberty Hall Museum over 10 years ago.
“I have a finger in every single pie of the museum,” Schroh said.
Schroh’s time at Liberty Hall Museum started when he opened up a history newspaper with a classified section for jobs. From the time Schroh interviewed for the job, he knew this was the place for him.
An average day at Liberty Hall Museum can be unpredictable. Liberty Hall Museum, located at Kean University, is the home of William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey. Schroh is in charge of the daily operations of the museum, which includes activities, hiring, and training.
Liberty Hall Museum is dear to Schroh’s heart, including his family. His children, Emma, 17, and Theodore, 15, have been coming to the museum since they were just babies.
As a lover of history, Schroh reflected on the time he spent with his grandparents, which included touring historic landmarks and sites.
With the hopes of pursuing a teaching career at the high school level, Schroh found a volunteering position at a museum. As his volunteer position soon turned into a part-time job, Schroh began his time in museum education.
“I’ve always been interested in history,” said Schroh.
Schroh’s office is decorated with the atmosphere of an historian. Proudly on his wall is a portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt. Among the books on his bookshelf are history books, including a signed copy of “The King’s Deception” by Author Steve Berry, who visited Liberty Hall Museum.
“Bill is a really hard worker,” said Lacey Bongard, Programs Director for Liberty Hall Museum.
Among the walls of Liberty Hall Museum’s offices are the many pictures of the events held at the museum. Schroh had the opportunity to meet those of prominence, such as Congressman Leonard Lance, and Governor Chris Christie.
When talking about history of the museum, Schroh has a smile on his face and his tone appears excited. As part of his job at the museum, Schroh is in charge of researching for projects and exhibits.
Among his projects, Schroh was featured in the short film “Hannah Caldwell,” which was directed and produced by Professor Larry Tung, of Kean University. The film was shot at Liberty Hall Museum.
Surrounding himself around letters and artifacts of the Kean and Livingston family, Schroh is becoming the family historian, in a sense.
“When the Kean family wants to know something about their family, whether currently or in thepast, they don’t ask each other, they ask Bill Schroh,” said Richard O’Neil, Executive Director and Vice President of Liberty Hall museum.
While Schroh reads and researches extensively for the museum projects, Schroh said his favorite part of American history is from 1800 to 1914.
When Schroh was first hired at the museum, it was just getting started. Describing his time at Liberty Hall Museum, Schroh said he’s been here since the beginning.
“To create a museum from scratch is fantastic,” Schroh said, while reflecting on the creation of Liberty Hall Museum.
As part of his job as the director, Schroh comes across and reads many original documents. Among the documents he has uncovered date back to President George Washington. Schroh described the artifacts as being priceless.
In his spare time, Schroh enjoys listening to country western music, hiking, walking, and going to the movies. Near his house in Warwick, New York, there is a drive-in movie theater, which Schroh enjoys taking his family to watch films.
Schroh said they are lucky enough to have a drive- in movie theater. Among his traveling interests, going to England was his favorite destination.
With many exhibits a year, which started about five years ago, Schroh said they focus on a particular piece, and highlight it throughout the house. Describing the process of designing an exhibit, Schroh said it usually takes about a year to plan and open an exhibit.
According to the museum’s website, the new featured exhibit, “Toys Through Time,” features children’s toys from more than 100 years ago, toys that the youngsters of the Liberty Hall Residence actually played with.
“Liberty Hall is a treasure box of American history,” Schroh said.