Rockingham, Kingston

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Rockingham
Rockingham House.JPG
Back of house in 2007
Rockingham, Kingston is located in Somerset County, New Jersey
Rockingham, Kingston
Location Franklin Township, New Jersey  United States
Coordinates 40°23′3.15″N 74°37′8.25″W / 40.3842083°N 74.6189583°W / 40.3842083; -74.6189583Coordinates: 40°23′3.15″N 74°37′8.25″W / 40.3842083°N 74.6189583°W / 40.3842083; -74.6189583
Area 27 acres (110,000 m2)
Built c. 1710/1764
Architect Unknown
Architectural style No style listed
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 70000394[1]
Added to NRHP December 18, 1970

Rockingham House was the home of John Berrien I (1712–1772) and George Washington's final headquarters of the Revolutionary War, located near Rocky Hill in Franklin Township in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. The house has been moved within southern Franklin Township several times, and is now closer to the Franklin portion of Kingston than to Rocky Hill. The residence is a featured part of the Millstone River Valley Scenic Byway. The oldest portion of the house was built as a two-room, two-story saltbox style house between 1702 and 1710. A kitchen and additional rooms were added on in the early 1760s, expanding with the Berrien family. The first reference to the house as "Rockingham" does not appear until a 1783 newspaper advertisement to sell the house, a name given most likely in honor of the Marquess of Rockingham.

John Berrien[edit]

John Berrien I was a surveyor and land agent from Long Island whose business brought him into the Millstone River valley in the 1730s. In 1735, he purchased the small house that overlooked the river. Berrien eventually became a judge, first in Somerset County before eventually being named to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. His first wife, Mary Leonard of Perth Amboy died in 1758 without bearing children; the next year, he married Margaret Eaton, whose father founded Eatontown, New Jersey. Together John and Margaret had six children, four boys and two girls. John Berrien drowned in the Millstone River in 1772, leaving his estate in the hands of his wife. He is buried in Princeton Cemetery.

George Washington[edit]

George Washington (1783) by William Dunlap. Painted during Washington's stay at Rockingham.
Front of Rockingham in 2007
Back of Rockingham circa 1910 with stone outer house still in place before the move

General George Washington stayed at Rockingham from August 23, 1783 to November 10, 1783. He was invited to the area by Congress, who were headquartered in Nassau Hall in Princeton while awaiting the news of the signing of the Treaty of Paris to officially end the Revolutionary War. Washington was accompanied by three aides-de-camp, a troop of between twelve and twenty-four life guards, his servants and, until early October, his wife Martha Washington. He spent his time at Rockingham entertaining Congress and other local figures until word of the end of the War reached him on October 31. Washington composed his Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States at Rockingham, a document dismissing his troops and announcing his retirement from the Army.

House sold[edit]

In 1802, Margaret Berrien sold the house to Frederick Cruser, who continued the expansion of the house. Storage space and servants sleeping quarters were added to the kitchen wing, a second-story balcony added to the front of the house, and the roofline raised to accommodate a third-story attic. The Cruser family occupied Rockingham until 1841. The house changed hands many times until the 1890s when the property was bought by the Rocky Hill Quarry Company.

Moves[edit]

1897 move[edit]

The first move of the house was in 1897 to remove it from the Rocky Hill Quarry Company property in Rocky Hill. Kate McFarlane and Josephine Swann helped create the Washington Headquarters Association of Rocky Hill, which raised the money to purchase the structure and move it away from the quarry. In August 1897, the house was opened to the public. In 1935, ownership was turned over to the state of New Jersey.

1956 move[edit]

By 1956, the quarry had expanded and the house again was too close to active quarrying. Rockingham was moved a half mile eastward along County Route 518.

2001 move[edit]

The house made its final move in 2001. It now sits on a 27-acre (110,000 m2) lot on CR 603 (Somerset County), adjacent to the Delaware and Raritan Canal, on the outskirts of Kingston. The site reopened to the public in 2004 and is open year-round.

Timeline[edit]

  • 1705 (circa) built
  • 1735 John Berrien buys house and property
  • 1783 George Washington uses house as headquarters
  • 1802 House sold to Frederick Cruser
  • 1841 House sold to David H. Mount
  • 1844 House sold to Martin A. Howell
  • 1890 (circa) house and property sold to Rocky Hill Quarry Company
  • 1897 House moved away from quarry
  • 1956 House moved farther away from quarry
  • 2001 House moved to Kingston

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 

External links[edit]