NEWSLETTER, March/April 2005, PART TWO
Saturday, March 19 About 19 people gathered in the Borough of Rockleigh, Bergen County, New Jersey, at the John A. Haring House for a tour of local sites organized by Douglas Johnsen.
In 1977, The United States Department of the interior designated three quarters of the borough as the Rockleigh National Historic District. It and the adjoining village of Tappan, Rockland County, New York, that we would visit next, are intimately connected with events of the American Revolution.
The Haring house is a cut stone gambrel roof house built originally in 1805 and added to over the decades. It remained in the Haring family until 1969. Doug acquired it in 2001. The house retains a number of original Federal features such as doors, hardware and moldings. Especially noteworthy is the three-bay Dutch barn that is probably contemporary with the house. Despite a later raised roof, it contains many original features. Measured drawings of the house and barn were made in 1939 for the Historic American Building Survey, and are available on the HABS internet site.
The barn's two-part wagon doors rather than four-part, its small window at the roof's peak rather than martin holes, and its lack of a pentice roof seem characteristic of New Jersey Dutch barns. The framing of the gambrel roof of the house is English style, with queen posts supporting purlins.
We next visited the nearby Walter Parcells House, a 1795 cut stone gambrel roofed house that is undergoing restoration by a new owner. Walter Parcells was a mason and had bought a 54 acre farm on which he erected his Federal style story-and-a-half house. Much of its structure is open to view. This two room deep house, like the Haring House, has English style roof framing.
We drove a short distance to the "79 House" Restaurant in Tappan, Rockland County, New York, where the British spy, Captain John Andre, was held during his trial at the Tappan Dutch Reformed Church, before his hanging on a hilli nearby. The building of many additions contains some interesting exposed framing some of which may be 17th century. One room has an English summer beam with connected joists. It is an excellent medium priced restaurant and should be included in any visit to the area.
We visited the Tappan Dutch Reformed Church where Richard Dampf, a local historian, gave us an excellent talk from the raised pulpit, about the establishment of the congregation here and the significance of George Washington's approval of the hanging of Captain Andre and its statement of a new attitude toward the privileges of class. Andre had plotted with Benedict Arnold to reveal the defenses of West Point to the British on Manhattan. Aristocrats like Andre were supposed to choose their deaths. Only commoners were hung.
Finally we visited the DeWint stone and brick house in Tappan. It was occupied four times during The Revolution by General Washington and is maintained in its late 18th century condition and operated as a museum by the Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. The building was extensively repaired a few years ago and a wood frame kitchen wing was added, replacing an earlier one. Two of the people on the tour had special knowledge of the building. Conrad Fingado worked on some of this repair work and John Stevens had made several trips to inspect the building during its repair, so that they were both able to point out features we would not have noticed.
DeCIark/DeWint House, 1700 Tappan, Rockland County, NY photograph by Jim Decker.
The front of the two-room center hall house is dated 1700 with large numerals of black glazed bricks set in the red brick front wall. Its present double hung sash windows replaced original Dutch leaded casement windows. John's inspection of the brick at the gable end convinced him the house had originally had parapet gables, a Dutch feature characteristic of early brick houses. The overhanging eves may have been added when the parapet gables were removed. They served to shed water from the walls but these 18th century changes were also done to make the house appear less old fashion.
The DeWint house certainly attests to the early development of the center hall Dutch house with fireplaces on the end walls. Many aspects of the house were changed over the 18th century. Originally both the hall and the kitchen room had dirt floors paved with brick, these are covered now with wood flooring. The fireplaces now are English style jam bed with mantels of rich complex moldings. Termites had damaged the structure of one and in its reconstruction it was discovered that it began as a jambless fireplace to which shallow rounded jambs were added later before its final conversion to the English full jam configuration with angled sides. Through it all the fireplaces preserved their original brick smoke hoods.
The 1770 DeWint House in Tappan is one of only two examples known in America of a unique Dutch style roof truss that was common in 17th century Holland. This Dutch style truss and the rafter system that this newsletter has been referring to as "major/minor" are the subjects of an illustrated article entitled Notes on the roof construction of DutchAmerican and Old-World Dutch Buildings, by John Stevens, published in the Spring 2005 newsletter of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society, available from HVVA for $2., postage included.
DeClark/De Wint House, 1700 Tappan, Rockland County, NY HABS drawing 1939
I received a copy of a scholarly journal that I was unfamiliar with from one of its authors, Robert Trent, of Wilmington, Delaware. It contained an article for review. This annual publication entitled American Furniture 2004. was edited by Luke Beckerdite, and published by the Chipstone Foundation, University Press of New England.
The article entitled, High Craft along the Mohawk: Early Woodwork from the Albany Area of New York, was written by Robert F. Trent, Alan Miller, Glen Adamson, and Harry Mack Truax II. Their interpretation of the Glen/Sanders House in Scotia, Schenectady County, New York, was based on a recent Dendrochronology dating that evidently has overturned previous theories of the dated sequence of its construction. The printing, paper and binding of this Journal are exceptionally good, beautiful color reproductions and well worth its $55 price.
Wally Wheeler of Hartgen Archaeology Lab, Albany, assisted with the taking of 20 sample cores from beams and wrote an article about it, Dating Buildings Using Dendrochronology, in the Dutch Barn Preservation Society Newsletter, (Fall 2004, Vol. 17, Issue 2). He gives a good background on the development of this tree ring science for dating wood and he describes its achievements, limitations and some recent dendro-dates on early houses in this Upper Hudson Valley area.
In the HVVA Newsletter, (February 2003, Vol. 5, No.2) in From The Journal, there is a report on a brief visit to the Glen/Sanders Mansion, John Stevens submitted detail drawings of the "original" front door, a tall paneled cupboard and a perspective sketch done by him in 1964 of the house as he thought it looked in 1750. The American Furniture article has drawings based on HABS drawings of 1936. One of them shows an interpretation of the house as it looked in 1713 based on dendro-dating. Wally says John has his backward. The original two room center hall house faced south toward the river. John has his in the wrong place and facing north. Wally says this part of the house was built in 1771 despite its 1713 dated wall irons that were moved.
Reading the American Furniture article and the DBPS Newsletter did not make clear to me what the exact sequence of construction was, or a clear understanding of how the 1713 house was altered and added to, we need better drawings to show its development.
I came away confused. This controversy would be a good topic fot the coming Dutch House Conference atEastfield Village, August 12 to 14. I believe both sides would have something to learn and we could come closer to unraveling the mysteries of this complex, and historically important building, now engulfed by modern construction.
Otherwise, I would recommend both articles if you are interested in the subject. The American Furniture article gives good historic background to the owners of the house, their kasten (cupboards), banisters and their importance in the fur trade and relations with the Iroquois. There was a recent family story that what was then a three room house on the north side, had been one large open room as it is today. The authors speculate that this section was built in 1771 as a treaty or trading room, perhaps with removable partitions, somewhat imitating the native's long-house. What is evident is that there were two Dutch jambless fireplaces at either end of the room.
Peter Sinclair, Editor
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