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"Rose Haven School"
The Rockleigh Years

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Haring-Corning House /
Abm D Haring House

Rose Haven School

The Rose Haven School for Girls (Abraham D. Haring House) in the 1970's
(Photo circa 1973)

 Site No. 24 

 

 

            Beautifully set on two acres of park-like grounds, this outstanding example of a Dutch Colonial manor home was created as a sixty-plus 18th Century agricultural estate. It has been attributed to Abraham D. Haring for whom the house is named.  The oldest section of the structure was built c.1740, making the Haring-Corning House or Abraham D. Haring House the oldest home in the National Historic District of Rockleigh, New Jersey. It is listed in the U.S. Department of Interior's National Register of Historic Places.

             From 1930, Miss Ruth Van Strum and Miss Mary Brichard ran the exclusive Rose Haven School for girls on the premises. The many bedrooms on the second floor of the manor house provided comfortable living space for the girls. An adjacent building contained several classrooms.
   

 

"My mother, Ruth Van Strum, along with her partner Mary Birchard purchased the property from the Tates in the early 30's.  Mary Birchard passed away around 1938 and my mother ran the private school up until the late 1960's when she sold the school to Agnus Boyd who turned it from a girls boarding school to a day school.  I lived there from 1934 until I went away to college in 1952... 

"Some of the students at my mother's school were the daughters of James Montegomery Flagg and Gloria Swanson as well as the actress Teresa Wright.  My mother retired to Old Tappan NJ but until her death at the age of 96 kept up with her girls by sending them $5 and brownies on their birthdays."

 Peter Van Strum,  Son of Ruth Van Strum

             In the late 1960's Agnes Boyd, a teacher at the school, purchased Rose Haven from founder Ruth Van Strum and renamed it Rockleigh Country Day School with less emphasis on the boarding student.
   

 

"Miss Ruth Van Strum and Miss Mary Birchard founded the Rose Haven School in 1920 in River Edge, NJ. From there they moved it to Tenafly and then in 1930 to Rockleigh. Miss Birchard died in the forties but Miss Van Strum continued to own and run the school until when she retired [in the 1950's] and sold it to a teacher from Rose Haven, Miss Agnes Boyd, who renamed the school Rockleigh Country Day School...

   

   

"Miss Van Strum was, is, an icon in the minds of girls who attended the school. She owned and ran it for 50 years. She died in 1988 at age 96 at her home in Old Tappan.

   

   

"Many famous people attended Rose Haven over the years... including Michelle Farmer (Gloria Swanson's daughter... Miss Van Strum is mentioned in her memoirs), actress Teresa Wright and the daughter of the famous artist James Montgomery Falgg, most known for his poster 'Uncle Sam Wants You'.

   

   

"The Osorio's, Rhina and Anna Maya's father was president of San Salvatore.  Two girls were related to Fidel Castro.  And for a couple of years Rocky Gracciano's daughter's attended Rose Haven School.  The little one, Roxie, was a real scrapper!  Eric Maria Remarque's (All's Quiet on the Western Front) daughter, Maria, also attended Rose Haven School.

   

   

"Rose Haven was an incredible place to grow up.  We were steeped in the arts and culture and would all pile into the Lincoln for trips to the Opera, Ballet and Philharmonic in New York City. 

   

Every year we had a May Fete where we danced on the lawn. One girl was the May Queen and little ones her attendants."

Dona Tracy,  Student at the Rose Haven School 1951-1960
Photos courtesy of Dona Tracy

Brochure
Rose Haven School for Girls

Circa 1958

THE ROSE HAVEN SCHOOL for girls is situated in the mountains of Northern New Jersey, approximately eighteen miles from New York City, on an imposing estate of twenty acres, consisting of rolling lawns, dotted with stately trees, broad fields for play and sports, orchards, gardens, and woodlands. The nearness to New York City is an advantage to those living in the metropolitan area. Rockleigh is conveniently reached by means of the Rockland County buses which leave New York City at the Mid-Town Terminal on West Forty-first Street and Eighth Avenue, and go directly to Closter, New jersey, where a taxi may be taken to the school. For motorists, Route #4 from the George Washington Bridge to Grand Avenue in Englewood, turn north and continue straight through to Rockleigh; The Dykman Street Ferries, then north on Sylvan Boulevard to Rockleigh, or the Snedens Landing Road from the Yonkers Ferry are all direct routes to the school.

          The residence is of Dutch Colonial design, pleasing and homelike in appearance, the interior arranged with charm and carefulness associated with a well-regulated home, affording the children an environment of beauty and distinction.

          The sleeping rooms are especially attractive and inviting with quaint maple furniture, ruffled curtains and gabled ceilings. There are single and double rooms and small dormitories. The director reserves the right to change the assignment of any girl if, in her judgment, it is in the best interest of the child and others concerned.

          The school building is new, spacious, and equipped to meet the demands of modern education. The school rooms contribute their part to the artistic simplicity of the entire school. They are light, sunny, and airy, with a view toward the mountains that is always an inspiration.

       In the Spring and Fall, out of door classes are held on terraces or in the summer house. A courtyard at the rear of the house is a delightful place to eat luncheon our of doors on sunny days. In addition, there is a large building reserved for toys, games, and personal sport equipment

 

 
          For well over a quarter century The Rose Haven School has retained the highest commendation for fundamental preparation. This has been earned through untiring effort in teaching young girls the joy of self-reliance, patience and work well done. It has been inspired by progressive ideals, but through sincere purpose has attained the highest standards of the educational world. Small classes make it possible for the teacher to give almost individual instruction, and rapid progress is the result. Supervised study, and continued stress on fundamentals in the elementary grades do not lead to failures in high school. The curriculum also includes languages under native teachers, creative art, dramatics, ballet, and music.

           The purpose of the school is to produce in each girl the best physical, mental, and moral growth of which she is capable, and knowing that between the ages of four and fourteen she is at a most impressionable age, it is our endeavor to direct her mind in a sympathetic manner into the right channels of thought. Our object is to have a spirit of happiness and contentment in a congenial atmosphere where activities and interests are arranged for the junior girl so she may enjoy childhood without the disturbing influence of upper school privileges. The growth of each girl is sought by developing clearer thinking and a genuine interest in life, teaching her obedience, kindness, responsiveness, initiative, self-control, and poise. The school is not in any way denominational in its atmosphere or teachings, but stands for simple and sincere Christian living.
         The Rose Haven Country Day School closed in the early 1980's upon the retirement of Agnes Boyd. Over the next two decades, three families occupied the premises, each significantly contributing to the restoration of the manor house. The adjacent school  building also has become a handsome residence sited on a two-acre tract. Rose Haven Lane, the road created by subdivision of the 11-plus acre Rose Haven tract, leads to three recent houses of complementary colonial and federal styles, each sited on two acres.
 

Acknowledgements

Much of this page is the result of the recollections and contributions of Dona Tracy, RHS '51-'60 , and Peter Van Strum, son of Ruth Van Strum.