Backstory and Context
The Hermitage is a historic house museum located in Northern New Jersey. This home is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the first National Historic Landmark in Bergen County. It has a deep history embedded into it from the time of the Revolutionary War, as New Jersey played major roles during this war. It is noteworthy that George Washington visited this home during the war in 1778, along with Alexander Hamilton. The house was owned by a British officer, but his wife Theodosia Prevost maintained the house while he gone fighting.
During the Revolutionary War, Theodosia ran the farm and protected her home from being confiscated, as many were during this time in the area. She was said to have connections in Trenton, which is how she got in contact with American soldiers. She was nervous that since her husband was fighting for Great Britain her house would be taken from her. Rather than let this happen, she befriended the Americans and offered for them to stay. She opened up her home to British and American troops, especially officers. Theodosia had interactions with many familiar names throughout her life, which makes the Hermitage noteworthy These names include James Monroe, William Paterson, Lord Stirling, and Aaron Burr. Since she was known welcoming American officers into her house, it makes sense that Washington would stop there after visiting the Paterson Falls with Alexander Hamilton. The story goes that Theodosia heard that Washington would be passing through on his way home from the Battle of Monmouth and she invited him to stay.
As noted earlier, Aaron Burr was one of the many visitors at the Hermitage. He is one of the most significant due to the face that after Theodosia Prevost’s husband died in the war she was remarried to him in 1782. This seems ironic due to the fact that Alexander Hamilton had visited the home earlier in his life and Aaron Burr was the one who eventually killed him in a duel. Aaron Burr and Theodosia were married for twelve years, before she passed away; she was not alive to see him become the third Vice President of the United States. Their marriage is another reason why the Hermitage is significant, since a future vice president was married to the owner.
The Hermitage is well known not only for the famous names that have passed through its hall, but its architecture as well. The house was originally built in 1763 as a two-story house. The structure that stands today is a Gothic Revival design, that was renovated in 1847. The house was bought by the Rosencrantz family in 1807, but the renovation did not take place until Elijah Rosencrantz II hired the architect William Ranlett. The structure that stands today is almost the exact same as when the construction took place. There are a few minor differences, but those are due to the maintenance of the home. The house continued to be passed down through the family until 1970, when Mary Elizabeth Rosencrantz passed away. Before her death, she wrote in her will that the house was to be given to the state of New Jersey for the purpose of becoming a historical monument and museum. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on August 29, 1970.
The Hermitage is maintained by a non-profit organization called “Friends of the Hermitage.” The house is now open to the public for tours. These are offered Wednesday to Sunday at three times throughout the day; 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, and 3:15 pm. The admission is only $7 for adults, $6 for students and senior citizens, $4 for children 6 to 12 years old, and free for any child under the age of 5. These tours take the guests through the historic house, as well as through various exhibits of collections from the era. The Hermitage also has many educational programs that allow schools to come in and learn about their local history. They have public programing events throughout the year as well, which can be found in their website http://thehermitage.org/.
The Hermitage. New Jersey Women's History. Accessed March 04, 2019. http://www.njwomenshistory.org/item/hermitage/.