Roots

 

This is one in a series of stories about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s landmark achievements, which continue to inspire us as we address future challenges.

It’s hard to envision a more idyllic place than Bellevue Farm. The summer retreat of Robert Wood Johnson I, founder of Johnson and Johnson, was a rolling expanse just across the Raritan River from New Brunswick, N.J. Johnson’s young son Bobby learned to ride horses there. He could stand on the wraparound porch of the three-story 1700s farmhouse, and with a spyglass, spot the family’s redbrick factory across the river.

The property boasted acres of cow pastures, horse paths, and orchards. There were greenhouses. There was an old Indian trail. In short, Bellevue Farm was a wondrous place to be a boy.

When young Bobby grew up to succeed his father, he treasured the farm no less. But Johnson—our founder—nurtured a strong belief that business has a moral purpose to serve the public interest. And so he gave much of the property to his community to demonstrate that he really meant it.

Now Johnson Park, those rolling acres are dotted with picnic groves and playing fields. The park was Johnson’s first philanthropic gift.

Learn more about this nearly forgotten part of the provenance for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.