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Local Interest

Additional Points of Interest

Here are a few more sites of historical interest to consider.
(These are not officially registered with the National, State, or Somerset County registers)

Bernards Township (Liberty Corner)

Situated in the picturesque and historic village of Liberty Corner, the working farm has been in the same family since before the Revolutionary War.

Back in the late Summer of 1781, this farm site is where over 4,000 troops, 1,500 horses, and a heard of over 600 oxen congregated at what was then known as Bullions Tavern (Liberty Corner / Bernards Twp) . The site recently comm orated the the 225th anniversary of the march of French and continental forces through New Jersey to their victory over the British at the Battle of Yorktown. A reenactment on the English Farm, the actual location of the French campsite, was recently performed recreating August 29, 1781.

Additional history of the English Farm- Click Here

From Official Kate Macy Ladd Brochure

Natirar/Restarant/Spa/County Park

The 491 Acre preservation effort, was purchased in 2003 for $22 million Somerset County Improvement Authority. In the first 30 years of a 99 year lease, the 80 Acre lease to Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson will return $25.7 million. A portion of the remaining funds will be used to develop the remaining 411 acres.

If the estate had been sold to developers, with current zoning laws, it could have been 50 homesites and the mansion would probably have been lost stated Somerset County Freeholder, Rick Fontana, who worked on the acquisition effort.

The property includes some 13,000 feet of stream frontage, 189 acres of forest, 230 acres of former agricultural land and 44 acres of wetlands. The property is set to become a county park, managed by the Somerset County Park Commission, which opened it’s first portion in 2009 with a new restuarant and culinary school.

Source: Somerset County Board of Chosen
Freeholders Newsletter – Fall 2006

(Kate Macy Ladd) Peapack Gladstone /Far Hills / Bedminster

One of the most famous anagrams (a word spelled backwards) around the Somerset Hills is the name Natirar. Natirar, the anagram of the word Raritan, for the Raritan River that runs through the infamous estate.

491 acres – Purchased by Somerset County NJ in 2003 for $23 million to create a new park for low-impact recreation such as hiking and biking, mixed with an occasional concert or crafts fairs.

The Natirar Mansion sits at the end of a 1.25-mile driveway within a 491-acre estate that occupies portions of three municipalities. (The main buildings and 327 acres are in the Borough of Peapack and Gladstone; 124 acres are in the Borough of Far Hills; 40 acres are in the Township of Bedminster.) The main entrance, once at the Far Hills train station, is now just over the town line, nearly at the spot where Main Street (Peapack Road) crosses the North Branch of the Raritan River and New Jersey Transit’s Peapack Gladstone railroad branch.

On 80 Acres of the 491 acre estate, The Natirar Mansion, will be transformed into the Spa at Natirar by British tycoon Sir Richard Branson.

Natirar is historically remembered for the estate created by Walter Graeme Ladd (1857-1933) and his wife, Catherine Everit Macy Ladd (1863-1945), who began to acquire estate land in April 1905, naming it Natirar ( Raritan backwards) for the Raritan River that flows through the property. The estate includes 22 buildings, many historic, six wells, three bridges, three streams, a pond, and woodlands. The 33,000 square-foot mansion itself, grand that it may be, is sedate and austere.

Kate Macy and Walter Ladd began acquiring property in the Somerset Hills in 1905. Macy was a Quaker heiress to a whaling/oil/shipping fortune; her father’s business partner was John D. Rockefeller. Ladd was an entrepreneur and attorney to John D. Rockefeller. They married in 1883 and rented property in Bernardsville as they acquired small local farmsteads until their estate spread over 1,000 acres throughout Peapack/Gladstone, Far Hills and Bedminster.

The main entrance lane ambles upward as the stream turns away, then leads through woodland until it emerges hilltop, with stone cottages and stable in view, then swings in front of a small “castle”.

Moroccan (NW Africa) King Hassan II bought the property from the Ladd Estate in 1983 but he never permanently lived there. Somerset County bought Natirar from his Hassan II’s son, King Mohammed VI of Morocco in 2003 for $22 million.

The Branson-Wojtowicz development partnership and its co-applicant, the Somerset County Improvement Authority (SCIA), were seeking board approval for 143,000 square feet of new construction at the estate. The mansion, two cottages, carriage house and greenhouse stand on 88 acres that the county leased to Sir Richard Branson, was later disolved. Branson is no longer involved in the project.

It is noted that the non-spa area (aka the park), containing some 400+ acres, opened to the public in the Fall of 2006.

Original Architects

Guy Lowell & Henry Hardenberg- who also designed The Plaza Hotel, The Dakota, Manhattan Courthouse, and the Boston Museum of Fine Art.

Additional Information:

To see additional photos, and the outer cottages and garages- Click Here

 

Far Hills (Actually is in Bernards Township)

The USGA Golf Museum sits in the heart of a 60-acre estate.

The USGA’s facility at Far Hills not only documents the game’s rich history, but it is home to the most sophisticated and technically advanced golf equipment test facility in the country.

Estate History:

Constructed in 1919, built for Thomas Frothingham. In 1926 – Thomas Frothinghams Dogwood estate (now USGA Golf House Museum) was sold to John Sloan, a prominent furniture retailer, due to bankruptcy as partner of investment company Potter Brothers & Company. After a failed suicide attempt, a divorce from his wife, and moving to Mexico to avoid bankruptcy prosecution, Frothingham died in Mexico.

Gladstone

The Hamilton Farm estate is home to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.

Besides being the training site for horses and riders that participate in Olympic events, it is also the venue for the annual U.S. Equestrian Team Festival of Champions, a four-day extravaganza of horsemanship, including driving, show jumping and dressage, normally held annually in the third week of June.

Peapack

The Essex Hunt Club is a fox-hunting club that evolved into two private clubs, Essex Fox Hounds, which still hunts, and the Essex Hunt Club, a winter recreational club on a property of more than 100 acres that uses an ice rink for figure skating and hockey. Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America is the sanctioning body in the US for what the organization entitled the Essex Fox Hounds, that was spun from the original Essex Hunt Club.

Photo by Michael V. Gutwillig

Cross Gardens Map

W. Raymond Cross Estate & Gardens

Bernardsville

Site of the New Jersey Brigade Unit of Morristown National Historical Park, on Old Jockey Hollow Road in Bernardsville, NJ.

The original house, built by John A. Bensel in 1905, formed the centerpiece of his “Queen Anne Farm.” The estate included a carriage house, a five-story stone water tower, and a gate house.

In 1929, W. Redmond Cross purchased the property and renamed it “Hardscrabble House”. His wife, Julia Newbold Cross, was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society for eight years. Mrs. Cross made extensive improvements in the garden with the help of Clarence Fowler, a noted landscape architect. Together they cultivated an unusual assortment of plants throughout the garden. The house was extensively remodeled in 1940, after the death of Mr. Cross.

For Directions- Click Here

The Cross Estate Gardens are a project of the New Jersey Historical Garden Foundation, in cooperation with the National Park Service.

Somerset County

Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission

2004.

A book entitled Historic Sites & Districts in Somerset County, NJ is available for additional research.