Ringwood Manor Grounds Tour

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Ringwood Manor National Historic District

Ringwood Manor and its surrounding 479 acres became a national historic landmark district in 1966. The Ringwood Manor district and the nearby Skylands Manor comprise Ringwood State Park. In the summer of 2020, the park limited tour to the grounds and gardens because of covid.

The history of Ringwood is rooted in its colonial era ironworks. Robert Erskine took over as ironmaster just as the Revolutionary War broke out. George Washington named Erskine ‘Geographer and Surveyor General of the Continental Army.’ Erskine kept the forges running to supply the Continental Army.

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.

The Grounds

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.

The Hewitt family collected historic, artistic and other items of interest throughout their lives. They picked up these objects on their travels and brought them back. They were installed in the gardens or put on display in the 51 rooms in the manor.

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.

Our tour also took us around to the various outbuildings, like the blacksmith’s and the stables. These were all necessary to help run the estate. We briefly passed by the historic cemetery, though there is a more in-depth tour for that (popular in the fall.)

Location: 1304 Sloatsburg Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456
Designation: National Historic Landmark District, State Park
Date designated/established: November 13, 1966
Date of my visit: August 8, 2020