Long Pond Ironworks National Historic Landmark District


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Long Pond Ironworks State Park preserves the historic village of Hewitt, which was a bustling ironworking community in the 1700s.


I was driving by after a hike at nearby Jungle Habitat and noticed that the visitor center was open. I stopped in and chatted with the park ranger for a bit.


This building was once the General Store and also a boarding house for the iron workers. It now houses the museum as well as the visitor center.


The museum depicts life in Hewitt and showcases many iron artifacts from the period. The ranger told me one of the most precious pieces in the collection is the stove, made at Long Pond for George Washington.


At the ranger’s recommendation, I took the self-guided tour of the village. The village map depicts the town as it was back then. Today there are less than a dozen structures still standing.


Because of the water-power of the Wanaque River and the iron ore deposits in the Highlands region, Peter Hasenclever established his Ironworks here.


Hasenclever also built Ringwood Manor which became home to the ironmasters of Long Pond for the next 120 years. You can read my previous posts about Ringwood Manor here and here.


After following the path past historic buildings, some ruins and the river, I arrived at the furnace area. The original furnace is under a tarp and is one of the few colonial-era iron furnaces left.


There are other furnace ruins, built during the Civil War by the Cooper-Hewitt family. These furnaces collapsed in an unusual manner, falling forward instead of into a pile a rubble. The ranger said it could be from people stealing the fireplace bricks (long ago) that formed the arches.


In its heyday, Hewitt housed 500 ironworkers and their families, most of them German immigrants. The town had a church, a school and a post office. By 1882, the forges and furnaces at Long Pond had ceased operations as the industry shifted to coal power.


Location: Greenwood Lake Turnpike, West Milford, NJ

Designation: State Park, National Historic Landmark District

Date designated or established: 1766

Date of my visit: August 24, 2015


Biltmore Estate National Historic Landmark


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The Vanderbilt family, building on the shipping and railroad business started by Cornelius Vanderbilt, became prominent during the Gilded Age (the period after the Civil War.)


In that period the Vanderbilt  grandsons built ornate palaces to showcase their wealth including The Breakers in Rhode Island and The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park.


The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina  is the largest privately owned house in the United States. The home is 179 thousand square feet and sits on a huge estate that includes a winery, stables and other attractions open to the public.


The mansion was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 as a summer home. Having fallen in love with the mountainous countryside, Vanderbilt bought up over 700 parcels of land to build his summer retreat.


In 1900, Cornelia, the only child of George and Edith Vanderbilt, was born. She grew up in this vast estate.


In 1914, the Vanderbilts sold a large tract of their land to the federal government which became Pisgah National Forest. During the Great Depression, Cornelia and her husband opened the mansion to the public in order to attract tourists to Asheville.


Today, the estate is run by a trust set up by the Vanderbilt Family and has a hotel, restaurants and other amenities on site. It attracts 1.4 million visitors a year.


My daughter and I toured the estate while on a road trip several years ago. At the time, photography was not allowed inside the home, though we enjoyed the guided tour through the many opulent rooms.


Vanderbilt Posts:

Location: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: 1963

Date of my visit: November 2007

One of the restaurants is inside the old stables
The dairy barn was converted into the winery.

Elfreth’s Alley


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Dating back to 1702 Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously inhabited street in the USA. There are 32 houses on the Philadelphia street which were built between 1728 and 1836. Numbers 124 and 126 house the Elfreth’s Alley Museum.


The street is named for Jeremiah Elfreth, one of the blacksmiths who contributed his land to found a neighborhood for tradesmen close to the Delaware River waterfront. As industry changed, factories sprang up around Elfreth’s Alley, making it obsolete. In the 1930s, the Elfreth’s Alley Association formed to save the neighborhood from demolition.


Now a National Historic Landmark, homeowners are required to maintain the buildings’ exterior in original condition. Many have modernized the necessities in the interior (kitchens and bathrooms) but have kept up the original fireplaces and such.


Location: 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designation declared: 10/15/1966

Date of my visit: October 15, 2015


Princeton Historic District: Princeton University – NRHP


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Princeton University is one of the nine Colonial universities founded before the American Revolution. It dates back to 1746, when it was The College of New Jersey in Elizabeth and then moved to Newark. In 1756, it moved to its current site in Princeton, New Jersey into the original Nassau Hall building.


The college was renamed Princeton University in 1896 has consistently been ranked the USA’s top university over the past two decades. Many influential people have graduated from the institution including two US presidents and twelve US Supreme Court justices. It is currently around $66,000 a year to attend Princeton, if you can get in.


After the completion of Nassau Hall (a national landmark on its own), the campus continued to expand around it. Today, the Princeton campus sits on 500 acres with many gorgeous Collegiate Gothic style buildings and some more modern architecture on the south side.


A friend from out of town wanted to photograph the architecture, so we drove down to the campus only to find it was move-in day for the students and abuzz with activity. The good thing about this is that there were plenty of people to offer directions and we were able to ride the campus bus from the parking lot to the historic section.


Location: 125 Faculty Rd., Princeton, NJ

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: June 27, 1975

Date of my visit: 9/3/2016

The Princeton University Chapel opened in 1928, replacing an older one that had burned down.

Philadelphia City Hall


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Philadelphia City Hall was constructed from 1871 to 1901 and was designed to be the tallest building in the world at 548 feet. By the time it was finished, it had been surpassed by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower.


With 700 rooms and 22-foot supporting masonry walls, it is the largest municipal building in the United States. It houses all three branches of the city government.


The 37 foot statue of city founder William Penn tops the tower and is the largest statue on top of any building in the world.


Fun fact: The construction of One Liberty Place ended the decades-old gentlemen’s agreement to limit the height of other city buildings to William Penn’s hat brim. This was said to have cursed the Philly sports teams until another Penn statue was erected on the Comcast building just before the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.


The clock faces in the tower are 26 feet in diameter, three feet larger than London’s Big Ben. There is a small glass-enclosed observation deck just below the base of the statue which we have never been able to visit since it’s only open during business hours. We did get to the top of One Liberty on our last visit for views of City Hall and the rest of Philadephia.


Location: 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designation declared: 1976

Date of my visit: August 11, 2017


Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District


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Ringwood Manor and its surrounding 479 acres became a national historic landmark district in 1966. Ringwood State Park is comprised of the Ringwood Manor district and the nearby Skylands Manor. The NJ Parks department manages the site and provides regular tours of the mansion. Photography is not allowed inside the house, except during the Victorian Christmas Open House.


The surrounding Ramapo mountains are rich in iron deposits. Iron mines and forges made this an area of strategic importance during the Revolutionary War and again during the war of 1812.


Ironmaster Martin Ryerson built the first 10-room section of Ringwood Manor in 1807.  The State Park has maintained some of this original section with the simple Washingtonian decor that the Ryersons favored.


The Cooper-Hewitts bought Ringwood Manor as a summer home in 1853. Peter Cooper invented glue, gelatin and the Tom Thumb locomotive. Together with his son-in-law A.S. Hewitt (a one-term NYC mayor) he founded one of the largest iron companies in the USA.  A.S. Hewitt married Peter Cooper’s daughter Sarah.


Sarah Hewitt built several additions onto the house over the years.


Ringwood Manor has 51 rooms, 30 of which are open to the public via a ranger-guided tour.


Mrs. Hewitt favored lavish French Louis XV design. She allowed her husband to decorate only three of the rooms in a more masculine style.


She was an avid collector of marquetry, china, etc… Her collections are showcased throughout the manor.


The grounds were patterned after European gardens the Hewitts had seen on their travels. They also incorporated into the landscape salvaged items, like Columbia University’s iron gates and the Cooper Union Institute’s marble columns.


There is a large iron chain in front of the house which Mr. Hewitt thought was the chain that was stretched across the Hudson River at West Point during the Revolutionary War to keep the British navy out.


He later found out that he’d been scammed, that the chain was not authentic, but Mrs. Hewitt perpetuated the rumor that it was THE chain, so there it still sits. There is also a cannon from the USS constitution in front of the house along with other iron antiques.


The Hewitts had six children. The two younger daughters stayed on at Ringwood and ran the iron mines after their parents’ deaths.


The youngest son, Erskine, was the last surviving heir and donated the estate to the State of New Jersey in 1936.


Ringwood State Park posts:
  • Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Merry Christmas from Ringwood Manor National Historic Landmark District
  • Victorian Christmas at Ringwood Manor (Coming Soon)
  • Skylands Botanical Gardens (Coming Soon)

Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Designation: National Historic Landmark District, State Park

Date designated or established: November 13, 1966

Date of my visit: 12/8/2018, 8/26/2018, 3/5/2016


There is a trail behind the mansion that leads past some colonial era graves to this dam

Glacier National Park: Lake McDonald


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At ten miles long, Lake McDonald is Glacier National Park’s biggest lake. It is on the West of the Continental Divide, which receives more rain, so the area is lush.


The lake is not fed by glaciers and so does not have the distinctive turquoise hue found on the Eastern side of the park. But the water is crystal clear, showcasing the multicolored Argillite rock on the lake’s floor.


We stopped at Lake McDonald on our last evening in the park. It stays light longer in Glacier in the summer than where we live because it is farther from the equator. We stopped to dip our feet in the icy lake waters before going into the lodge for dinner.


Lake McDonald Lodge was built in 1913 on the Eastern shore of Lake McDonald at the mouth of Midget Creek. Like the other lodges in the park, it has a Swiss Chalet design which was part of the Great Northern Railroad’s campaign to attract tourists to the ‘American Alps.’


Though not as big as Many Glacier, the lodge has an impressive three-story lobby and was restored in the 1980s. It includes many of the original furnishings and some reproductions of the original Kanai craftsmen paper lanterns. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.


We had dinner in Russell’s Fireside Dining Room, which was far better than the disappointing meal we’d had previously at Many Glacier’s Ptarmigan Dining Room.


This appetizer is a charcuterie platter with local game and cheeses. It was delicious.


Location: 288 Lake McDonald Lodge Loop, West Glacier, MT 59936

Designation: National Park, National Landmark

Date designation declared: 5/11/1910, NHL 1987

Date of my visit: 6/27/2018