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Archive for new jersey

Huguenots and Hackensacks

By Linda Tancs

In 1709 a group of French Huguenot merchants bought a tract of land in present-day New Jersey from the Hackensack Indians. Later in the 1700s a portion of that tract (Ho-Ho-Kus in Bergen County) became the site of the Hermitage, a significant example of the Gothic Revival style, with tall gable roofs, diamond-paned windows and pointed Tudor arches. The historic colonial home was a rest stop for George Washington when he passed through Ho-Ho-Kus in 1778 after the Battle of Monmouth. Among other notable figures to visit the house during the Revolutionary War were James Monroe, William Paterson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Today a National Historic Landmark and house museum, the Hermitage is a rich source of history and the site of numerous Native American artifacts found bordering the property. Tours are available year round Wednesday through Sunday.

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Jersey City’s Oldest Apple

By Linda Tancs

In the 17th century the Dutch village of Bergen occupied an area south of Journal Square in present-day Jersey City, New Jersey. Historically, the village’s location provided perfect ground to keep an eye on the Loyalists during the Revolutionary War, particularly from a one-story, one-room deep farmhouse built of locally cut ashlar sandstone. That old Dutch homestead (subsequently enlarged) became known as the Apple Tree House, listed on both the state and national historic registers. Bounded by apple orchards and a cider press, legend has it that George Washington and Major General Marquis de Lafayette met under an apple tree on the front yard to discuss war strategy. Once owned by the Van Wagenen family, one of the area’s original settlers, Jersey City purchased the property in 1999 and has renovated it for use as a museum.

A Wetland of International Importance

By Linda Tancs

Located along the Delaware River estuary in Pennsville, New Jersey, Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is designated a Wetland of International Importance. Vastly comprising slightly brackish tidal marsh, this unique habitat contains a mixture of fresh and saltwater plants and wildlife and is an important resting and feeding area for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. In fact, it has been identified as the most important habitat for wintering American black ducks. Two foot trails through the refuge’s varied habitats provide excellent opportunities for wildlife observation. This time of year the Forest Habitat Trail offers choruses of spring peepers and southern leopard frogs.

New Jersey’s Last Mill

By Linda Tancs

Ralston Cider Mill is New Jersey’s last remaining cider mill. Located in Mendham just minutes from historic Morristown, it’s the site of the state’s once thriving cider and applejack industry, where millions of gallons of apple cider, applejack and bootleg New Jersey Lightning were produced until 1938. Still evident is a hidden still that allowed the mill to operate through Prohibition. It’s the only operational cider mill functioning as a privately funded museum and educational experience for students of all ages. Volunteers lead tours, explaining the production process and history of the mill.

America’s First National Historical Park

By Linda Tancs

America’s first national historical park, Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General George Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment from December 1779 to June 1780. Two main areas of the park are Ford Mansion, Washington’s headquarters, and Jockey Hollow, where 10,000 soldiers camped during the most brutal winter ever recorded. The park has about 27 miles of designated hiking trails.

The History of Forest Hill

By Linda Tancs

A jewel of the North Ward of Newark, New Jersey, Forest Hill is a state historic district (the second largest) that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The tony enclave is a treasure trove of period revival architecture dating mostly from 1890 to 1925. The range of styles includes Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Tudor, Italian Renaissance, Romanesque, Spanish/Mediterranean, Neoclassical, Beaux Arts and French Chateau. In its heyday, the area (formerly an agrarian region) was settled by some of the country’s most influential magnates, including the Ballantine brewery family, the Clarks (milling) and the Hellers (rasp and file). Despite a downturn in the early part of the 20th century and the conversion of some of the early baronial estates into commercial and multi-family dwellings, the district has enjoyed a resurgence that includes restoration of its palatial homes.

New Jersey’s Industrial Age

By Linda Tancs

Just over one square mile in the heart of Florence Township, New Jersey, historic Roebling is a symbol of the state’s industrial coming of age. Unchanged for more than 100 years, the locale was built in the early 1900s as a planned community for hundreds of workers at the John A. Roebling’s Sons Co. steel plant. Once the plant closed for good in 1982 and the site was remediated, the main gatehouse to the plant was rehabilitated and now houses a museum about the community. Scheduled trolley tours of the steel town itself, which has evolved into an international tourist attraction, take visitors beyond the gates of the museum. Roebling is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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