Explore the historic homes of New Jersey

Spanning the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries New Jersey’s historic homes and grand estates are architectural and decorative masterpieces just waiting to be discovered.

The Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May is a prime example of the late 1800s trend toward highly personalized architecture, a staple of the Victorian and Arts & Crafts periods. Designed in 1879 by renowned Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, this 18-room mansion was constructed for Dr. Emlen Physick, his widowed mother and his maiden aunt. The Physick Estate drew immediate attention because of its “Stick Style” design. The exterior is distinguished by a grid-like pattern (sticks) of timbers, gigantic (upside down) chimneys and hooded “jerkin-head” dormers.

View the Ballantine House in Newark, a 27-room late-Victorian style mansion built in 1885 for Jeannette and John Holme Ballantine of the celebrated Newark beer-brewing family. The House contains eight bedrooms and three bathrooms, and has been a part of The Newark Museum since 1937 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985. With two floors of the Ballantine House open to the public, including eight period rooms, two hallways and six new galleries, visitors will delight in observing objects found in people’s homes from the 1650s to the present.

Part of the National Historic Landmark District, Ringwood Manor, in Ringwood, is a beautiful country house that was home to a succession of well-known ironmasters for nearly 200 years. The manor house was constructed in 1807 by the Ryerson family in Federal-style and subsequent owners, the Abram S. Hewitt family, America’s foremost ironmaster, added Italianate and Gothic Revival styles to the estate. The resulting eclectic mix, totalling 51 rooms, was the largest house in America until the late 1800’s. When the Hewitt family sold the manor in the early 1900’s, the house remained as the family had left it, complete with family books, furniture, clothing, paintings and period furniture, providing a rare view of wealthy country lifestyles during the 19th century.    

Skylands Manor, also in Ringwood, is a 117-acre former estate of Clarence Lewis, a civil engineer and stepson of William Salomon, founder of the New York banking house. Built in 1924, the magnificent, Tudor-style stone mansion was designed by John Russell Pope, one of America’s foremost architects during the country’s turn-of-the-century “gilded age.” Every detail of Skylands Manor is a work of art, from decorative copper downspouts, iron fixtures and stair railings to carved American oak panelling with stained and leaded glass windows. Lewis and his wife were enthusiastic amateur horticulturists who hired Vitale and Geiffert, the most prominent landscape architects of the day, to create Italianate gardens. Purchased by the state in 1966, the 96 acres surrounding the manor house are now designated as the New Jersey State Botanical Garden.

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