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A Farewell to a Historic Rumson Home

Do you have a story about the Anderson home? We want to hear it.

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 , 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 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.

Barbara R. Anderson May 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Thank you for your tribute to my beautiful home. It was not a large house, just a lovely place that raised two families who loved it dearly. It was built by James and Grace Parkes in 1938. We bought it in 1968 and lived there for 42 years. We always felt like it sheltlered and protected us as it stayed strong when the winds blew and never even shook. It seemed to smile from it's windows on the hill when we came home and welcomed all who entered. I will always cherish the memories of the laughter and joy of our children and grandchildren inside its walls. The playhouse stands as a reminder of what has been lost. It did not deserve such a cruel fate. Barbara Anderson
Bob McNulty May 24, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I always remember this house as being unique for Rumson. The front lawn with the dafodils is what I'll always remember. Some call this type of thing progress. Others call it destruction. Rumson and Fair Haven will always remain one of the most beautiful areas I know. They are still full of gems. I used to spend afternoons in what we called Mercer's woods, a probably 10 acre magical place with totally over grown ponds with peanut stone bridges, small gazebo type outbuildings and more, all tucked behind a privite 3 hole golf course. Its now about 4 houses. Can't believe how small it all looks. Another winner was what we called Pizani's Teahouse on North Rohallion, a beautifully detailed oval outdoor shingle style gazebo. There was a Statue on this same property called, "Pan of Rohallion" that I saw at the Brooklyn Museum one time. And who can forget digging for antique bottles on the bank of the stream by Doughty LAne? Or lastly, take it back 10 more years and who can forget the ghost house on Fair Haven Road, behind the corner lunch place? I have tons of these memories and I will always have the one of the funny front lawn with no grass and the dafodils
Suzanne McCabe May 25, 2012 at 06:06 PM
So true, Elaine. My family's home is across the street, where the woods start. We're all devastated by the loss. It truly was a unique home. Rumson should think about landmarking buildings that can never be replaced. Thank you for writing your piece.
Suzanne McCabe May 25, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Here are two videos: Rumson after the tear-downs—and before. As others have said, Rumson would benefit from a Landmarks Commission and a public conversation about how to preserve homes with great historic and aesthetic value. https://plus.google.com/112269623494537106831/posts
Bonnie Kroll May 26, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Elaine, thanks for this post. We see the same thing happening on Wardell and on Riverside. And Suzy, thanks for those videos. Your choice of music was perfect. So sad, but we can't dictate taste or respect for the past. And we can't turn back the clock. But I agree that a Landmark's Commission is needed before more harm is done. Our town would be in much worse shape were it not for the wonderful family that has preserved and restored many of our historic properties. I appreciate them every time I drive down Rumson Rd. or walk through town.

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