We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Some old friends were back in the NY area for the holidays. Rather than stay at a hotel, they watch friends' homes who are also traveling. Last year, I was jealous of the fact they were staying in a house that George Washington had slept in. This year, they stayed in the same house. After a nice dinner at a local pub, they invited us over.
The house as it appeared in 1919:
The house is known as The Timothy Ball House in Maplewood, NJ. It's not open to tours, because it's a private residence. The owners do let in groups of local school children to see the portions of the original structure which are intact and visit the room that Washington literally slept in.
The Ball family were Washington's cousins, Mary Ball having been his mother. Washington would stop by while the troops were wintering in Morristown (which they did over two brutal winters, the second far more difficult than Valley Forge), because a view from the ridge in Maplewood allowed him clear access to watch English troop movements in Elizabeth and Staten Island.
Today's Timothy Ball House has obviously undergone updates and expansions to house a modern family, but good portions of the original home are left. The ceilings are all extremely low, and the beams in the main portion are still visible. The architects did an excellent job of incorporating the old with the new. Two original fireplaces (one visible in the picture further below) are still intact though no longer working.
The house as it appears today:
The house, at one point, had been a tavern. Sitting in the dining room, you got the feeling you were sitting in a pub from the era, clearly renovated, but still very much a pub.
In the extended areas, the builders did a great job of reusing original wood and beams from the structure to tie the entire house together and mesh the old with the new.
It's unclear when the dormers or columns and porch were added, but they provide a modern and inviting look to this old homestead.
The tree out front is quite old and is prohibited from being cut down. It's assumed that Washington tied his horse to the tree while he visited.
I considered taking some pictures of my own to add, but I don't know the owners, and it is a private home. So I settled on finding what I could online to share.
We have a different perspective in this part of the world, don't we? In much of New England, parts of the mid-Atlantic states, and tidewater Virginia, we're just swimming in the stuff, so sleeping in an older home, even with a cool connection, no longer does it for me. (I grant that there are places in other parts of the country that have Spanish history, or important Siberian-American history.)
When I viisted my son in Houston, I was surprised at what was called "history."
Assistant VIllage Idiot
When you spend time banging around Europe, you realize that all of our "old" American stuff were just shantys when grand palazzos were already ancient in Florence.
Definitely have different views. There is much older stuff in the mid Atlantic region. The Deep South was hit pretty hard by the Civil War, and the North generally saw much of its old housing destroyed by industrial progress.
Philadelphia has done a good job of saving much of its old housing, New York hasn't done as good a job.
What made this house interesting (to me) was that it was actually a "Washington slept here" house. And while it is protected, it's still privately owned with people living in it, it's not a museum.
BD is right - most of the older homes outside the cities were really just shanties.