In 1906, the Bernardsville Fire Company, once known as the "Bernardsville Bucket Brigade" was presented with a gift from Frederick Olcott; a American LaFrancehorse drawn fire engine. The fire company was alongside Olcott's property located in what is now the Equus Restaurant, formerly known as the Stone Tavern and Freddies Tavern.
1972 - The Hills Development Company and Toll Brothers built New Jersey's largest residential development at the time: 1,880 units in Bernards Twp. 3,200 in Bedminster (5,100 total), consisting of 610 Mt. Laurel units, single family homes and commercial sites on 1,500 acres over 20 years starting in 1972.
THSSH Holiday House Tour
in the Historic Somerset Hills
The THSSH Holiday House Tour is the Society's premiere bi-annual fundraiser event that brings holiday cheer, friends, and our community together for a great social and historic event.
Sunday, December 10,2017
We're always looking for homes!
We're looking for home nominations as well as volunteers. All homes on the tour are volunteered by the graciousness of our community friends.If you'd like to recommend or know of a homeowner that might have interest to support our cause and participate, please Click Here to make a recommendation or call us at 908-221-1770.
It takes almost 100 volunteers to make the Holiday House Tour a success.
House docents, car parking assistants, and logistics support will most certainly be needed and welcomed. If you'd like to offer your services to this wonderful bi-annual event, please drop us a note (Click Here) and someone will contact you directly.
Take a Look Back at our Last Holiday House Tour December 13, 2015
THSSH Somerset Hills Holiday House Tour Sunday, December 13, 2015 12 NOON to 5PM
We're so excited that if we're not going to have snow, we at least are going to have a beautiful warm day (predictions in the mid-60's!)
Hopefully for those who are attending, you've already received your entrance map. After choosing your starting home, you'll receive your entry booklet.
Look for our updates on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook throughout the day.
Make sure you look for the BALLOONS at each of the tour stops.
Wear comfortable shoes
Look for the parking attendants at each house for assistance.
Restroom and refreshments are at the Brick Academy in Basking Ridge!
Take in lunch before or a nice coffee in downtown Basking Ridge either before or after the event. Washington House is a great local stop afterwards.
Have a great time!
Weather Forecast - The Somerset Hills
1. Basking Ridge
This historic colonial home was constructed in 1720 - only three years after Basking Ridge was initially inhabited by the original Scottish and English settlers. The early dwelling was built strategically oriented to the sun, not the road, as a 3-bay, side hall, two-story home. It was enlarged in 1790, into a classic “English” frame center hall, and known as the Hall-DeCoster property. During the 1800s, the residence served as a two-family house for a number of years. The Huckleberry family lived here from 1939 to 1990 and utilized a room on the first floor to display their refinished and restored antiques. When purchased in 1991 by the present owner, the house had no heat, plumbing or electricity at that time, but retained most of the early finishes and materials - albeit in rough condition. The renovation process making the house livable took six long years of hard effort by the owner and one lone craftsman.
The restoration work included replacement and matching of original wood moldings, wide plank poplar flooring and special 9-over-6 double hung sash windows with recyclable hand-blown glass. Original hand hewn beams were exposed and interior walls were reinforced and re plastered. The graceful furnishings and appointments beautifully compliment the period interiors of the house.
The two-acre property with a historic well house and shed in addition to the main house is listed on the Bernards Township, Somerset County and New Jersey historic site inventories. A Historic Preservation/Restoration Award from the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission was granted to the owner in 2001.
This handsome 4,700 square foot contemporary ‘farm house’ style home was completed in 2001, overlooking bucolic Cross Pond. The pond view is shared with several other family members, and one of these adjacent turn of the century homes was owned by the Childs family. This four-acre property includes the farm house with about 850 square feet of porches and patios, and a stone and wood barn designed by the local architect, Dan Lincoln. The barn, constructed in 2006 by Amish builders from Pennsylvania, and adjacent shed host goats and chickens raised by the owners who are committed to the environment and are avid recycles and composers.
The main house was designed by William Kaufman of WESKetch Architecture in a two-story, cross gable, classic style with a cupola and surrounding one-story porches and wings. The dwelling was constructed using environmentally friendly “green materials” such as certified wood framing, cedar shingle roofing, standing seam metal, and clapboard siding. The home is heated and cooled using a high efficiency geo-thermal system.
The interiors feature open and enclosed pond view porches which surround the dramatic open plan kitchen and adjacent “great room”. The kitchen features a copper ceiling with bead board insert paneling and a handsome stone topped island. The great room contains clerestory windows, a second floor overlooking balcony and bowed beam trusses. Stone and hardwood floors on the first floor are softened by natural fiber carpets, and the harmonious room colors were produced using environmentally friendly paints. Original artwork and sculptures based on endangered species such as sea turtles, elephants and herons are strategically placed throughout the house.
3. Basking Ridge
This handsome early 20th century substantial home was constructed around 1915 or 1920, either just before or after World War One for a wealthy upper class family. The property is located at the edge of Bernards Township almost adjacent to the Passaic River in the area formerly called West Millington.
Previously known as ‘Blue Spruce Acres’, the house style is primarily Early Colonial Revival with some Norman Revival and Craftsman influences. The Craftsman style is noted in the extended overhanging room eaves with expressed brackets, the casement windows and transoms at the enclosed left side porch, and the finish stucco at the exterior walls. The simple flat stock interior and exterior trim is also more indicative of the Craftsman style. The Colonial Revival style is evident in the Palladian window over the entry door with its side plasters and straight entablature, the 6-over-6 panel double hung sash windows, and the spaced Tuscan column style pilasters at the side porch. The front porch appears to be a later Colonial Revival addition.
The elegant interiors include the original coved and coffered ceilings, 9” baseboards and wide board trim with concave backbands, a graceful three-section stair with turned spindles, and an original multi rosette carved mahogany banister. The original single panel doors and nickel finish oval shaped doorknobs appear throughout the home, along with the early hardwood floors with contrasting wood band border edging.
The home is attractively decorated throughout with comfortable, traditional furnishings and unique Asian artwork, furniture and appointments. Many of these items were selected by the owners on travels throughout the world.
4. Basking Ridge
This charming house is an excellent example of the Romantic Tudor Revival style, and is located in the historic village of Basking Ridge. It is one of the best examples of this style in the Somerset Hills. Note the slate roofs with their peaked ridge ends and curved eases. The combination of these details with left side shed dormer, the hipped front cross gable, the attractive painted wood roof rake and barge boards intersecting the second story stucco exterior finish, the carefully selected brick finish and color, and the multi-paned casement windows with matching transom are all classic details of the Tudor style.
Special attention should be paid to the second story, bay type roofed balcony on the front façade with its picturesque cut out “urn” railing, square painted wood columns and French door. The first floor stained wood vertical panels and arched front entry door with period iron hardware, and the adjacent metal casement window are surrounded by puddingstone - a durable purple colored conglomerate stone with quartz pebbles. This stone gets its name from its similarity to English plum pudding, and comes from quarries in northwest New Jersey. The house design is based on one in the Dover/Mountain Lakes area.
The home was constructed by Ray Moffet in 1932. He also owned the Art Deco style Chevrolet dealership building (now demolished) on S. Finley Avenue. Many of the building materials were salvaged from the Somerset Hills Hotel on Ballantine Road in Bernardsville which had previously burned down.
Interior details include the puddingstone fireplace surround, the original stained chestnut trim and stair railing, the matching chair rail, and built-in stained wood phone shelf at the stair landing. The kitchen has been remodeled, in a handsome and sensitive manner which complements the house, by the current owners who treasure this inviting and wonderful home.
5. The Brick Academy 15 W. Oak Street, Basking Ridge Information ∙ Refreshments ∙ Rest Room
This Federal style, 2 to 3 story handmade brick building was originally constructed in 1809 as a young men’s private preparatory academy called the ‘Basking Ridge Classical School’. One historian is quoted stating that this Academy “gave the state and nation some of their noblest men at the bar, on the bench and in the pulpit”. Graduating students often attended Princeton University and became governors, senators and cabinet members for U.S. Presidents during the early to mid-19th century. Subsequent uses after the Academy closing include the Bernards Township public school from 1853 to 1903, two sequential union meeting hall headquarters, and the Bernards Town Hall from 1928 to 1975. It has served as the headquarters of The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills since 1976. The building has been renovated and restored over the past 40 years by THSSH using fundraising and grants from Somerset County and Bernards Township.
The Brick Academy is an excellent example of an important if modest early 19th century public building, and was manually constructed during the early years of our republic not long after the ending of the Revolutionary War. It was a time of recovery and investigation into an “American” style which avoided the European over-decoration and influences. The building is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Proceeds from the 2015 Holiday House Tour will be used to preserve the structure, historical programs, and historic preservation research and education related to the Somerset Hills of New Jersey.
Located in the Bernardsville “Mountain Colony”, this eclectic Tudor Revival and Shingle style structure was formerly the carriage house/groom’s quarters and later the chauffeur’s lodging for the Hardenbergh estate known as ‘Renemede’. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh was a nationally recognized New York City architect. His firm designed the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota Apartments in New York City, the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, and the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. Locally, he designed the Olcott Building by the High School in the Bernardsville Olcott Avenue Historic District, and of course his own exquisite mansion and estate outbuildings which include this carriage house.
A section of the late 19th century carriage house was used for the safe storage of hay with grain kept in the tower. Another large area sheltered both stabled horses and the manor house carriages. In later years, the carriages were replaced by vintage touring automobiles. Original horse hitching posts and equestrian memorabilia are used for decorative purposes as are the many stone and wood materials on the building exterior. A stone entry courtyard greets visitors. The cedar shingled roof is topped with a “Witt” copper weathervane. A stepping stone in the garden is in memory of “Gasson, 1905”, a beloved horse of the Hardenbergh family.
The building’s transition from carriage house to private home has been functional and comfortable. The entry stairs, dining room and charming kitchen are lovingly decorated for the holidays. A spiral staircase from the large back living area leads down to the den off the stable courtyard. The den is paneled with 200 year old barn siding topped with tartan plaid wool wall covering. The adjacent bar is built from the former stable stanchions and around an antique breakfront.
This elegant and original residence is the result of the combination of a mid-19th century, relocated, historic home and substantial, yet sympathetic, late 20th century additions. Located on the edge of the Mendham Borough Historic District, the original 1830-1840 historic house was moved from the opposite side of Hilltop Road by a builder who then more than doubled its size with new additions. These additions were primarily placed behind the older home, and cleverly avoid overwhelming the character and scale of this historic house. The farthest back of the newer rear two-story sections parallels and duplicates the size and shape of the earlier front section.
The older front wing is based on a historical “I” floor plan with five bays (2 windows - 1 door - 2 windows), and would have originally had a central stair bracketed by one room deep living spaces. Currently the entry is open to the living room with an enclosed dining space on the right. These rooms contain early and or historically traditional fireplaces, trim and furnishings. An airy enclosed porch/den behind the living room built in the late 20th century adds to the elegant character of the house.
Following the front entry towards the back of the house, there is a large open plan kitchen with stone countertops, a large island/bar and beautiful, painted, paneled cabinetry. The kitchen left side wall contains French style glass doors which open to a raised deck overlooking a fenced garden, a pond and large lawn. Passing through to the back of the kitchen leads to a gracious stair hall and handsome family room with creative and personal artwork and furnishings. The second floor reveals a beautiful master bedroom suite and a hallway/gallery area with an extensive art collection. The home and property are wonderfully adorned for the holidays with the owners’ large collection of decorations, creative lighting, wreaths, and garlands.
Somerset Hills most celebrated house tour returns this holiday season on Sunday, December 13, 2015 from noon to 5 pm. For over a quarter of a century, the Somerset Hills Holiday House Tour, sponsored by The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills (THSSH), has been a tradition enjoyed by thousands.
This one of a kind, signature event will include six distinct residences showcasing historic preservation, custom interior design, and creative holiday décor. Among those featured is a late 19th Century carriage house designed by the noted architect, Henry Janeway Hardenberg. Hardenburg designed the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota Apartments in New York City, as well as the Olcott Building in the Bernardsville Olcott Avenue Historic District.
Also on the tour is a classic farmhouse style contemporary home built with eco-friendly materials, as well as a charming 1920’s Tudor in Basking Ridge built with puddingstone, wonderful barge board trim and other period details.
The Brick Academy, an 1809 historic landmark, will serve as the hospitality center. This event may not be appropriate for children under 12 years of age.
Advanced Ticket Sales Available Online
For the First Time!
Ticket cost for this event is $30 per person.
The deadline to purchase tickets is December 2, 2015. Tickets are not sold the day of the event.
To purchase tickets, you can register online and send a check, or use a credit card to secure your spot for the tour. A check payable to THSSH should be mailed to: THSSH, P.O. Box 136, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
NEW- Order Online Now (Secure w/Credit Card or via check) - CLOSED
NOTE: If sending in check, you must include a self-addressed, LEGAL SIZE, stamped envelope. Make certain your check includes your name, address, and a phone number where you can be reached. Tickets will be mailed after November 12, 2015. This event will be held regardless of weather conditions. Tickets are non-refundable. For further information, call (908) 221-1770.
The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills (THSSH), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, includes the communities of Bedminster Township; Bernards Township; Bernardsville; Far Hills; and Peapack-Gladstone. The funds raised by this event will help THSSH continue to provide a community resource, and deliver engaging interactive programs and exhibits.
The Chair for the 2015 Holiday House Tour is Cynthia Crosson. More information about the homes on the tour can be found on our website www.thssh.org or call THSSH and leave a message at (908) 221-1770
Over the past 34 years, THSSH's Holiday House Tour has been the area's grandest touring holiday event. Visitors are reminded to purchase
their tour tickets EARLY. The
house tour's aim is to welcome in the holidays, showcase some of the areas most beautiful homes, and invoke a little sense to our areas history.
pleasant trip from the city, it is a day’s escape to
earlier, simpler times. The tour is a fundraiser to support the operating efforts of the historical society and its programs.
Become a member now and stay informed on the all the news- Click Here for details.
Details will be released online and via our membership newsletter. If you're not a member, or would like to be notified, please either subscribe to our email updates, or click here to send us a note.
The Brick Academy, home to The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills will again serve as the tours official hospitality center.
Come experience the beauty of the holiday season in a classic 1800's schoolhouse. Warm cider, cookies, and restrooms will be available throughout the day.
Volunteers Always Needed
House docents, car parking assistants, and logistics support will most certainly be needed and welcomed. If you'd like to offer your services to this wonderful bi-annual event, please drop us a note and someone will contact you directly.
The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills (THSSH), a 501c3 nonprofit organization includes the communities of: Bedminster Township; Bernards Township; Bernardsville; Far Hills; Peapack-Gladstone. The funds raised by this charitable event will help THSSH continue to provide a community resource and deliver engaging interactive programs and exhibits.