It’s not often that you come across a home that saw the birth of the United States, but this week’s historical shelter is a New Jersey property that has watched America grow from a collection of colonies, through the Revolution, to a 50-state country with a couple hundred (and change) years under its belt.
Saddle River, New Jersey, was first home to the Lenni Lenape tribe, who settled in the area thousands of years ago and remained there until 1756, when the entire tribe left, with just one person – Mashier – left to watch over their burial grounds, according to Saddle River historian Jon Kurpis.
About 80 years before, Lenni Lenape chief Manshier sold a large amount of their land along the Saddle River to Albert Zabriskie, and in 1708, Zabriskie sold that land to Thomas Van Buskirk, whose son built the first house in what would become the town of Saddle River.
“Thomas’s homestead was in Hackensack Township and he never lived in Saddle River, but he divided his land among his five sons,” Saddle River Landmark Commission member Suzanne Jahn told the New York Times. “Thomas served as justice of the peace, a justice on the Board of his Majesty’s Justices and Freeholders of Bergen County, a judge of the Inferior Court and a major in the militia.
“Andries Thomas VanBuskirk built the first house in Saddle River, still standing.”
The house also, for a time, occasionally served as a worship location for area Lutherans.
“They then held summer services in Thomas Van Buskirk’s barn and winter services in the attic of his house, located at 164 East Saddle River Road, Saddle River,” the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saddle River’s history page reads.
“Much of the Revolutionary War was fought in New Jersey, and its greatest figures Washington, Burr, Paine, Lafayette and Hamilton traversed Saddle River Township,” another borough – Saddle Brook – explained of the area’s importance during the Revolutionary War.
“George Washington marched his troops up the East Saddle River Road during the Revolution,” the borough of Upper Saddle River explained in its historical account.
Not far down the road, the Terhune-Demerest House served as a tavern during the Revolution, and as an outpost during the Battle of Paramus, and was burned down by British soldiers.
Built around 1707 to 1723, this first house built in Saddle River is for sale today.
And although the five-bedroom, four-bath home is quite old, the current owners have updated and renovated with a respectful eye toward preservation, but with the knowledge that certain modern amenities are important for 2020 creature comfort.
You can see the patina of age in the wide plank floors, the hand-hewn beams, and architecturally significant fireplaces.
A kitchen renovation marries modern needs with an open plan solarium and floor-to-ceiling windows.
A massive great room has a 13-foot cathedral ceiling, wood-burning stove, and exposed brick chimney, and the back of the home affords beautiful views of the pond and wildlife, as well as a pool and tennis court.
A heated barn can accommodate two cars, two horse stalls, and also boasts workshops, and a second floor with high ceilings that is perfect for an office, gym, or game room.