335 North Franklin Turnpike, Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey 07423
George Washington slept here. No, really. He did.
The year was 1778. Washington and his troops had just fought the Battle of Monmouth Court House and were passing through Ho-Ho-Kus, when the daughter of the owner of The Hermitage learned of his whereabouts and sent an invitation to him to stay there. Washington accepted, and he and his officers spent four days on the property.
That daughter was Theodosia Bartow Prevost, the wife of a British officer. Her loyalties apparently shifted to the patriots during the war, and she later married Aaron Burr at The Hermitage in 1782. George Washington and Aaron Burr weren’t the only two big name revolutionaries to visit the property. James Monroe, the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton, and Peggy Shippen Arnold (yes, the traitor’s wife) spent time at The Hermitage, too.
The two-story stone portion of the house was built in the mid-1700s. After the Revolutionary War, ownership of The Hermitage passed to several owners in succession until it was purchased in 1807 by Elijah Rosencrantz. In 1847, the home was remodeled and a new wing added in the Gothic Revival style still seen today. The home stayed in the Rosencrantz family until 1970 at the death of Mary Elizabeth Rosencrantz, the last of the family to live in the home. She bequeathed The Hermitage to the state of New Jersey. It is now operated as an historic house museum.
Four generations of the Rosencrantz family lived at The Hermitage, and it seems some of them linger to this day. The scent of heavy perfume wafts through the air of the master bedroom. Footsteps are often heard in the attic, and of course, there is “the feeling” of someone else present in several of the rooms. Singing and piano music have been heard in the house even though the piano was removed from the home, and a woman’s voice has been heard calling for someone unknown. And remember Theodora’s first husband? The British officer? He’s still there. He likes to walk around at night.
The Hermitage as a house also has its secrets. For those, you will just have to visit.
Tours are available of the home, and an adjacent building can be rented for weddings and other special events. The Hermitage hosts its own special events throughout the year including a Christmas Tree lighting, car shows, ghost tours, live music, and more. Volunteer opportunities are also available for those who want to support The Hermitage and continue its work. Visit their website for more details.
P.S. Theodosia and Aaron Burr had a daughter, also named Theodosia. The story of her fate, including a portrait of her found in North Carolina, is a mystery worth exploring all on its own.