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.

Lana Sorrentino May 17, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Elaine, Thank you for the beautiful story and photos about the Anderson home. I will share with the class of 1978, 1977 and more. Wonderful!----Lana
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Thanks, Lana. And thanks for contributing the photos. They're excellent! ;)
Lana Sorrentino May 17, 2012 at 08:00 PM
It was a lot of fun Elaine, muddy but fun, lol. Can't wait to hear the stories by others. I gave them the shout out on Facebook my friend, :)
Doug Newman May 17, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Even though this may be happening for reasons we do not know, it is still sad to see the old Fair Haven and Rumson pass away. Thanks for this story.
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
My pleasure, Doug. It really is sad. That house was just so unique.
Patrick Tapke May 17, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I live in Fair Haven, and I am a Realtor in Rumson at Resources RE. I drive by that home everyday and always say to myself, what a beautiful historic home up on the hill. Today I drove by and saw the chimney and I was sad to see that beautiful home gone. I wish more people would restore rather than tare down, I love older homes, such character. Thanks for your story.
Karen Harrington Bovenzi May 17, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I agree with Doug, it is so sad to see our hometowns (Rumson and Fair Haven) and even Red Bank changing so much. I can't believe people do not see the beauty in these homes. It is a shame that they tear them down instead of restoring. The Anderson will be missed. Karen Harrington Bovenzi
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I agree with you Karen and Doug. And judging by what Ben Hamilton and lots of others said on his Facebook page, yesterday, no one seems to understand why the beauty and character of such homes seems to be a secondary concern anymore. There's a reason for everything, but sometimes those reasons just don't make an awful lot of sense.
Rose May 17, 2012 at 10:28 PM
This disgusts me to no end. Curse those who allow the subdivision and demolishment of this historic house. We moved here years ago not for the mansions but for the small town and historic feel. This type of 'progress' will equate to more cost for infrastructure, more opportunity to tax and less of the quaily of life many of us moved here for.
carolynn diakon May 18, 2012 at 03:00 AM
We don't have ordinances in place to stop historic homes being torn down. Untill such time as we do, these homes will continue to disappear! Sad
Marc Edelman May 18, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Sad. New development always seems to eliminate the older homes and buildings with character and replaces them with new buildings without that Je ne sais quoi!
Mary Grubert May 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM
My children and I drove by and saw the beautiful chimneys standing, lonely and sad, atop the hill. We were all so heartbroken. We need ordinances in place to secure the historic homes in our community. As I type this, I am thinking about the most recent house to be razed on Ridge Road, it was also sitting on a hill, just across the street from the Anderson home. Additionally, a beautiful home on Buena Vista (between Ridge & Rumson Rd.) was just demolished and they are preparing for new construction. It is so depressing....
Joe Gallagher May 18, 2012 at 01:04 PM
This was my favorite house in the entire Rumson-Fair Haven area. Sad to see it go...
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 18, 2012 at 01:12 PM
You are truly not alone, Joe. ;)
Shannon K. Winning May 18, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Beautifully written Elaine.
Thomas P. Calvanico May 18, 2012 at 03:15 PM
this is another unfortunate example of the profit directed culture that we live within. Probably a wall street jerk who sees it as just another deal to make more cash at the expense of art, beauty, culture, and history.
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 18, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Thank you, Shannon. It truly was a sad day for many people who grew up in this area.
Debbie Schweers May 18, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Elaine, you might have spoken to the homeowners and builder before you wrote this. There are two sides to every story!
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 18, 2012 at 05:45 PM
It was an opinion piece, Debbie, not a news story. If the new owners would like to talk to me, I'd be happy to speak with them. Have them reach out to me through the email at the top of the page. I'd welcome that. ;)
Michael Steinhorn May 18, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Rumson does not REALLY have historic preservation because the Mayor and Council don't want it. ELECT anyone else. Michael Steinhorn
Mary Grubert May 19, 2012 at 02:17 AM
I think people are discussing two different houses...one house, the one on the hill that was knocked down about a month or two ago, (South Side of Ridge & corner of Briarwood?), green chain link fence), was over 100 years old (I am pretty sure). I had heard that it was incredibly costly to renovate and they were unable to find a buyer who could afford to restore it. Yes, some of the comments were insensitive and should be ignored. Of course finances and structural obstacles come into play. There are always two sides to every story. However, I think we, as a community, should join together to preserve our wonderful history. How do we keep historic homes from being razed if they can be restored? Peace!
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 19, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Well said, Mary. I think you're right. People are talking about two different houses. Peace, all! ;)
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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