The property's original two-story stone farmhouse was constructed in the mid-1700s. The mansion was bought by James Marcus Prevost, a British Army commander, after the French and Indian War. Prevost returned to active service at the start of the revolution, leaving his wife and five children at the Hermitage.
As the wife of a British soldier, Theodosia Prevost experienced growing difficulties as battle lines were set and loyalties were tested on the home front of the American Revolution. During the War, Bergen County, particularly the area surrounding Paramus, was a hotbed of military activity. Local farms were plundered, products were taken, and enemy supply routes were assaulted by the British and the Americans.
Theodosia found herself at a fork in the American Revolutionary War, with her residence at the Hermitage sandwiched between the British and the Americans.
Following the Battle of Monmouth in July 1778, Theodosia brought General George Washington and his officers to the Hermitage to see General Charles Lee's court-martial at neighboring Paramus First Church.
For four days, Washington stayed here with his staff, Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens. He was joined by the Marquis de Lafayette, a young French nobleman.
Theodosia met Aaron Burr during the conflict. The two rapidly built a close bond that drew much criticism and condemnation. Theodosia and Burr married in the Hermitage in July 1782, after the death of her husband and the conclusion of the War.
Elijah Rosencrantz erected a cotton mill along the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook in the 1820s, inspired by the industrialization of neighboring Paterson. The Rosencrantz family owned and managed the mill for almost sixty years.
The Hermitage was restored in the Gothic Revival style in 1847–48 by architect William H. Ranlett. The ancient stone farmhouse was extensively renovated, with a new wing added and contemporary conveniences such as running water and heat installed.
Bess Rosencrantz created a tea shop in the Hermitage's front parlors in 1917. She co-owned the company for more than a decade with her niece, Mary Elizabeth. Bess entertained their guests with stories of the Hermitage's storied history while Mary Elizabeth oversaw the kitchen and arranged the dinners.
The last Rosencrantz to dwell in the Hermitage was Mary Elizabeth. When she died in March 1970, she left home and its furnishings to the State of New Jersey and five acres of land. As a result, the Hermitage was named a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
The Hermitage Museum is now a historic home museum run by the Friends of the Hermitage, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization collaborating with the State of New Jersey.
The New Jersey Historical Commission, a branch of the New Jersey Department of State, awarded the Friends of the Hermitage a General Operating Support Grant.
To learn more, visit the website or call 201.445.8311, ext. 102.
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