Words To Remember

"The truth is this--genealogy is our living, and we are busy every minute, [and we] could use more hours." --Jane Wethy Foley, 1942

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Demarest [DesMarets] House 1678

The Old 1678 DesMarets [Demarest] House--now called the Campbell-Christie House--is the oldest red sand-stone house in New Jersey still standing.  The roughly-cut stones were from outcroppings in the neighborhood, which were avaialble at that time.  They were laid in clay mortar, held together with a fibre-like grass.  It was built originally on a bank above the Hackensack River in present-day New Milford, NJ, which was then called Kinderkamack.

The house consists of two adjoining rooms, each with an outside Dutch-style door.  These doors are in two sections, separated in the middle, the lower one usually kept closed to keep in crawling babies and toddlers and to keep out the chickens and live-stock, while the other opened in proper seasons for ventilation and light.  The attic was open and there the children of the family slept.

In the west room is a strikingly beautiful mantel with high wooden cupboards at each side.  It has been said that "judging by the type of house they built, the DesMarest family possessed instinctive taste and love of beauty."  Another DesMarest house, built probably in 1696, is still occupied--about a half-mile north of the site of the 1678 house.  The east room would be dedicated to the "older folks": their bedroom and "parlor," as such.

Some years ago, by reason of the sheltered location of the Old House and being subject to vandalism and damage, it was removed stone by stone, timber and board, to a more protected and accessible spot alongside the Steuben House, which serves as the headquarters of the Bergen County [NJ] Historical Society.

Both the DesMarest and Steuben Houses are beautiful examples of early Dutch-style architecture.

--From The Desmarest Family, Vol. I. (Hackensack, NJ: Demarest Family Association. 1964). {Edited slightly by me.}


  1. Hi Maddie,

    This is of no fault of your own, so please do not take it as such, but the above info from the 1964 book is a bit off. The 1964 book on the Demarests is by far the most accurate of many attempts but the house information is in error. The Bergen County Historical Society (BCHS) owns three houses at their living museum: the Campbell-Christie, the Demarest House, and the Steuben-Zabriskie house. Only the Steuben-Zabriskie house is on its original foundations, the other two were moved there after being rescued form demolition by the foundation.

    The Demarest house was always called so but it is now thought not to have been built or owned by the Demarests. (There are some still lived-in Demarest houses in the area, including one believed built in part by David Demarest, which the BCHS has information about.) I cannot remember if the sandstone house is the oldest in the area but it has been fantastically restored and I'm sure any of the earlier inhabitants would feel right at home in it today. If you or your readers are ever in Northern NJ, it's a great side trip. The BCHS does some truly fantastic work preserving a small slice of Dutch NJ and actively contributing through lectures and events. The site itself is rightly called the most active battleground of the American Revolution.

  2. Thanks [belatedly] for the correction! I'm always glad to hear more history and genealogy information on my allied families! Maybe one day I can visit that New Jersey area where my ancestors came from. I know I would enjoy it.