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For the past 8 years, the Northwest Bergen History Coalition has been holding a themed History Day. On History Day, several historic sites in the area are open, running tours and stamping passports. This year, the theme was ‘How Immigration & The Railroad Shaped Our Towns’ with 10 sites participating.
The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus is Bergen County’s first National Historical Landmark. The original dwelling was built in the 1700s. During the Revolutionary War, Theodosia Prevost was left to tend the property while her husband was off fighting. She opened the home to soldiers as a rest station, extending a personal invitation to General Washington and his troops.
Theodosia’s husband was killed during the war, but she continued to host the militia. Guests during the Revolution included James Monroe, William Paterson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, Lord Stirling and Aaron Burr.
Aaron Burr and Theodosia were married at the Hermitage in 1782, after the death of her first husband, and they lived there for a short while. The Rosencrantz Family bought the home in 1807 and in 1847 expanded it to a 14-room Gothic Revival mansion.
The last surviving Rosencrantz heir, Mary Elizabeth, lived there for her whole life. In her later years, she fell on hard financial times and was unable to properly maintain the house.
When she burned herself on the fireplace and had to call for help in the late 1960s, it was discovered that she and a cousin had been living in two rooms of the house without any heat or electricity. She was moved to a nursing home and willed the Hermitage to the State of New Jersey. She died in 1970 and ownership of the estate passed to New Jersey with the stipulation that one section of the house dating to the 1700s remain untouched.
I managed to tour five of the participating sites that day. To see my posts on the other NW Bergen County historic sites, click on the following links:
- The Old Stone House (Ramsey)
- The Schoolhouse Museum (Ridgewood)
- The Hermitage (Ho-ho-kus)
- The Zabriskie House (Wyckoff) Coming Soon
- The John Fell House (Allendale) Coming Soon
Location: 538 Island Road, Ramsey, NJ 07446
Designation: National Historical Landmark
Date designated or established:: 5/22/1970
Date of my visit: 4/28/2018