When I was a child, my mother used to tell me a bedtime story about a beautiful house on a hill and the little girl who used to walk by it every day on her way to school.
In the story, the little girl never knew who lived there, never went inside, but would always stop and stare at it and daydream about what it might be like to live in what had become, to her, the magical house on the hill.
I always begged to hear that story. I had a picture in my mind of this house and the mystery, hope and intrigue that the little girl at the bottom of the hill felt while gazing at it in all her childlike wonderment. I don’t know why. The story always just stuck with me.
Years later, when I was in high school at R-FH, that bedtime tale unfolded in a strange sort of teen reality way. When picking up a friend on Ridge Road for a play rehearsal, as I pulled up to the home, I stopped short at the foot of the driveway that led up a hill. There it was — the house on the hill.
The house in my mom’s story had materialized. It was the Anderson home — perched atop a hill on Ridge Road, between Rumson Country Day School and R-FH.
It was my real life house on the hill. I would pick Libby Anderson up for rehearsals and, while I waited for her to run out to the car, I would sit and stare at the house, just like the little girl in the story. I actually never went inside, either. Just wondered.
I doubt that Libby ever even realized how enthralled I was with her family’s beautiful, classic home. Though I’m pretty sure I’m the only one my mother told that story to, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who adored this historic peanut stone house.
Yesterday the Anderson home was torn down. And, news of people’s sadness over the demolition spread like a Springsteen sighting among out-of-towners.
I got a call about it and had to run over to see what was left of the house on the hill.
Longtime Fair Haven resident Ben Hamilton posted it on his Facebook page and got a flurry of comments. He, like many, always loved the house and was sad to see yet another piece of area history go by way of the wrecking ball.
Rumson-Fair Haven grad Lana Sorrentino, who now lives in Point Pleasant, met me nearby and we both took pictures and shared our own stories about the house. “I have always loved the house,” she said. “When I heard, from Ben, about it being torn down, I had to come right over.”
We stopped by to see Ben, who just shook his head and said, “I know the Andersons sold it, but I hate to see such a great house torn down. I don’t even think Mrs. Anderson knows yet. She’ll be very upset.”
Word is that the property is being subdivided for two new homes.
The only part of the estate that was left standing yesterday was a fireplace and chimney and the enchanting little playhouse, also peanut stone, mimicking the master home's appearance, equipped with a fireplace.
Here's a little tidbit about peanut stone: Research says that it's a mixture of pebbles and quartz that naturally formed, over time, into rock. Its origination dates back more than 10 million years and it has been used since the 1880s for construction.
Ben’s Facebook page had 38 comments yesterday about the Anderson home demolition. He started it out with: “The former Anderson home high on a hill on the north side of Ridge Road just east of Rumson Country Day School is being torn down today. That was a beautiful home. What are people thinking?”
Many people out there have stories of their own about the Anderson home. What’s yours? And what are your thoughts on new construction replacing historic homes in the area? Tell us all that’s on your mind on this subject in the comments section below.