Being a national historic landmark, the hermitage house is attracted by many tourists dragged towards it, throughout the year due to the Gothic architecture not much relevant any more in the New Jersey area. It has a museum next to the house, which tells you more about the house. They have some highly knowledgeable members working. It is open at all times in the year from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. The house cannot be photographed from the inside.
The Hermitage has a very interesting story behind it. It is known during the ownership of James Marcus, who was a Captain of British Army and his wife, Theodesia. During the time, James Marcus had been to Australia to fight one of the wars, the house was to be destroyed by colonists. And, hence his wife, Theodesia finally decided to change sides and make friendship with the colonists. At that point of time the Battle of Trenton was being fought, between the Americans and the Britishers. She wrote a letter to George Washington still prevalent in the museum of ‘The Hermitage’, asking him and his army to stop by, and give her the chance to serve. They weren’t allowed to stay. But as after the battle, they had to run up towards the north, they hence did stay in here overnight. They were accompanied by the Aaron Burr the former Vice President, who became good friends with Theodesia. And finally did marry her in the all purpose room of the house which now the dining, one year after his husband’s death in 1782.
The house later had many owners. In 18th century, the Hermitage was purchased by Dr. Elijah Rosecrantz. He had a degree from the church, and possessed a job of Country Minister. When this couldn’t support his family, he decided to do a doctorate from Queen’s college. And, he did become a doctor. But still he couldn’t still do enough justice to his family, he did start a cotton and paper mill by the brook.
The mill brought glory to the house and family. The house was renovated by the architect, William Ranlett under the Elijah Junior. The two room house was increased to a two storied one. They even got a central heating unit just a show to the neighbors, as Elijah Junior did install a fireplace in each room. They were so blessed that, each room in the house had a lot of closets. Even though, they extra storage rooms or closets were taxed at that time.
We can say that the house is built following the Victorian style as it has many windows for keeping the sun rays entering through at all times. The beautiful stained glasses of the windows and doors, give amazing colored reflections on the walls at certain times in day portraying that the Elijah’s family was pretty fancy and modern. All over the house, there are Victorian styled ornaments like the shells and tortoise shell specifically scattered here and there on the windows.
Description of inner components of the House:
- The major room contains a piano, and paintings from the Hudson River School with a 3-dimensional art effects where everyone used to socialize take tea, do story telling, play music. Children were not allowed to enter this room of amusement. It also has a highly decorated hair wreath covered with flowers.
(What is a hair wreath?
The people in Victorian times constructed a wreath using the hair of people in the family. If the top is closed the person is dead, yet if open the person is alive.)
- The next is a Central Hall, where there are photographs of the residents of the house.
- The dining room is also very significant place. It has a pass through from the kitchen which was hidden by a pretty screen.
- The kitchen’s dairy room is pretty interesting too! It is a storage which is 3 feet below the ground level to store fresh eggs, meat, milk, and other products to refrigerate them. The kitchen did have both cold and hot running water. The kitchen was only for the servants and naughty children.They even have a open kitchen earlier renovation, as they had a fear of catching fire.
- Aunt Bess had nursery or the stewing room. Particularly, it is to be known that she consciously used the the same sleeves on different dresses to make it look different in order to save lot amounts of money. She belonged to a strong athletic class of women having a good social life. She had also loved to paint flowers, some of which are still present on the the fireplaces and cutlery used during her times.
- There is a servant quarters, which was not renovated as they did not want to touch them.
(There was a difference in slaves and servants at those times?Slaves were harshly beaten and they were used highly to establish business in New Jersey. Slaves did escape using the underground rail road. They were brought in peace only after the law of slaves being free!)