the historic old homes lie along the two main roads of Rockleigh Borough,
walking is as good a way to discover Rockleigh today as it was two
centuries ago. So...
with us awhile and we will take you back to a heritage rich in color
and strong in spirit..."
walking tour begins at
(26 Rockleigh Road), where parking is available in the rear. The central
section of Borough Hall was a small c.1860 outbuilding moved from Piermont
Road in 1928. Recent wings that house the Rockleigh Volunteer Fire
Department and Borough Offices. The residents of Rockleigh are pleased
with the way their Borough Hall complements the character of the
community. Borough Hall is the only building on the tour that is open to
Borough Hall, walk southwest on Rockleigh Road. Keep in mind that, true
to it's rural character, there are no sidewalks in Rockleigh Borough. It
is important to be aware of traffic. Also safe crossing places will be
is a 1921 Vernacular Queen Anne 2½ story
wood-frame gabled cottage next to
Borough Hall. The present house was built by Henry Happel on the
site of and incorporates portions of a c.1870 structure apparently built
by Robert Newton Sneden. The Queen Anne styling is seen in the
bays, the addition of shingles, imbricated pattern, to rounded wall
A frame barn to the rear, probably older than the house, was replaced in
c.1790, (21 Rockleigh Road) is the 1½ story, gambrel-roof, stone and
sandstone on the right. Jacob Conklin was one of the original families in
the area, building a frame house on the site c.1748. All the lands from
the corner across from Borough Hall to the small bridge just down the
Rockleigh Road and east to Piermont Road were the "Sneden Fields". [map]
from 19 Rockleigh Road on Borough parkland is the site of the c.1765
Gerardus Ryker - Jacob Sneden Site
with only the cellar hole (set back about
sixty feet from Rockleigh Road) testimony to the old homestead. On borough
parkland behind the house site is the Sneden Ice Pond and ruins of
a small ice house. On the far side of the pond is an 18th century masonry
arch bridge spanning the stream. [map]
to the south on the left or east side of the road is "Roaring Brook Farm",
Ryker-Mabie- Conklin-Sneden Homestead
(14 Rockleigh Road). This is a 1½ story, gable-roofed, clapboard
structure. The oldest portion of the house was built by John Ryken, one of
the four original families of the area, between 1744-1752. Some
outbuildings exist to the rear of the house. [map]
the bridge on the right side of Rockleigh Road is the
Abraham Riker Homestead - "Pegasus Club"
(15 Rockleigh Road). This is a 2-story, Colonial revival,
central-bay portico, with pent roof and brackets, re-built circa 1890.
However, the kitchen, buried deep within this impressive structure, is a
c.1760 stone house - that of Abraham Ryker. The Pegasus Club once owned
most of "Snedens Fields" as polo and equestrian fields. These became
Pegasus Farm after WW II. [map]
the road to the east, Roaring Brook, a branch of the Sparkill, runs free.
The boundaries of the mill pond that provided water for
Sloat's Saw Mill,
1859-1861, are visible (opposite 7 and 9 Rockleigh Road). The ruins of
the mill dam and mill site are evident further along the stream. [map]
beautiful Dutch Colonial home coming into view on the right at the bend in
Rockleigh Road is the
Abraham "D" Haring House
(7 Rockleigh Road). The
small structure between the main house and the west wing, built c.1745, is
the oldest extent structure in Rockleigh. It a 1½-story, gambrel-roofed
with a later sandstone addition (now mostly stucco). The grand dressed
brick and sandstone main house was built in 1823 was known as the
"Northern Valley Manor House". Harings, Cornings, Sloats successively
lived in this house. In 1923, Mayor Tait, the first mayor of Rockleigh
lived here. [map]
Road is an old traditional
track that likely preceded the Lockhart Patent. It turned south as Closter
beyond site of Sloat's Saw Mill, the driveway through the pasture on the
east side of Rockleigh Road leads to the
Jacob N. Haring House
( 4 Rockleigh Road), set on the knoll
beyond Roaring Brook. Built circa 1820 of clapboard with gable roof. It
was enlarged from 1½ story to 2 stories circa 1864. This house was
inhabited by Haring descendents until the last decade of the 20th century.
left onto Piermont Road, but take care because this major artery shows
it's county origins and was not meant to accommodate today's traffic.
southerly portion of Piermont
Road was initially
Closter Publick Road. It
was along this road that Northern Valley farmers carted their produce to
the Hudson River to be transported to market in New York City.
On the left,
the graceful walled drive leads to the
Moses Taylor Sneden House
(8 Piermont Road).
Built circa 1860, it is an L-form 2½-story Victorian clapboard farmhouse
with bargeboard. While the house has been enlarged and renovated,
considerable care has been taken to remain faithful to the tradition and
style of this beautiful frame house. This is one of the few farmsteads to
have retained the working lands, encompassing the original 15 acres of
the interest of safety, stay on the left side of the road, walking against
traffic past the Abraham A. Haring House to which you will return.
It is safest to cross
Piermont road at the bend once you passed the John A. Haring barn.
John A. Haring House (5
Piermont Road) is ahead at the bend in Piermont Road. You should seen the
Dutch Barn. The 1½-story, gambrel-roofed Dutch Colonial sandstone was
built circa 1805.
wings were added within a few years. The Dutch form barn which was built
in 1806. It is of the traditional three-bay Dutch barn plan with wagon
doors on both gable ends which open up to a threshing floor flanked by
storage and animal isles originally entered from the outside by doors at
the corners of the gable end. This Dutch farm complex represents a typical
farmstead in the early 19th century rural community. However, most of the
out-buildings have been lost to time. The large Haring holdings included
the lands south to the Norwood border and east to Northvale.
North along the west side of Piermont Road
Captain Abraham A. Haring Homestead
(9 Piermont Road) is sited on the crest of a knoll on the left. The
Harings were one of the original four families who settled in the area. A
1½-story, gabled-roof sandstone, it was built circa 1758. It is
considerably older than the John A. Haring House and also a fine example
of a working Dutch farmstead. Numerous out-buildings are extent. The
earliest farmhouses in the Rockleigh Historic District are typically
Dutch, particularly the 18th century structures. These 1½ story
gambrel-roofed red sandstone dwellings are indigenous to the Hudson Valley
and Northeast New Jersey region. Again the haring lands extended
this point, the safer and more pleasant walk is back along Rockleigh Road
toward Borough Hall. Cross at the corner of Rockleigh Road.
Site of Washington's Troop Encampment
("The Battery at Sneden Fields") is along
Willow Road - on the left just beyond the bridge. The troops bivouacked
here were charged with protecting Snedens Landing from British Attack.
Artifacts are encountered from time to time. [map]
Willow Road from the encampment site is the
Henry Tory II House
(5 Willow), a 2-story
clapboard structure built circa 1850. While in excellent condition and
rather charming, it has been extensively altered during the 20th century.
the corner of Willow and Rockleigh, is the
Henry Tory I House
(9 Willow). This structure, built circa
1850, is a 2½-story, T-form, clapboard Victorian with gable roof that
faithfully retains the character of a turn of the century Victorian
left up the Hill on Rockleigh Road, staying to the left against traffic.
Joseph DuBois House
(31 Rockleigh Road) is
on the left. Built between 1823 and 1833 with an 1840 addition, this
1½-story gable-roofed, clapboard, this farmhouse faithfully retains the
character of a small farm even though the builder was a Hudson River
boatman. The barn is in excellent condition.
Henry Gesner Homestead Site
is located on the present DuBois House
property, about 100 yards to the west of the present Joseph DuBois House.
In 1749, John Henry Gesner, one of the four original settlers of the area,
purchased property a mile and one-half southeast of Tappan Village and
close to the disputed New York-New Jersey line in what is present-day
Rockleigh, New Jersey. John and Famitcha began their married life in a
house built to the west of Sneden Landing Road. The house was demolished
in 1835 for the lumber to build the central wing of the Joseph DuBois
The Gesner farmlands
included the large area to the north of present Willow Avenue extending
north of the present NY-NJ boundary and West from Rockleigh Road to the
Sparkill Creak close to the Northvale boundary. These lands ultimately
were handed down to his daughter Elizabeth Gesner Conklin and thence to
several great grandchildren, including the Elizabeth, wife of Joseph
of the blind curve up the hill, it is best to cross to the East side of
the right at the top of the hill is the
Site of John G. Conklin's House, Cider Mill & Quarry
(34 Rockleigh Road). The cellar hole of the original c.1832
house lie on the knoll to the south. The current brick Cape Cod (Locarni-April
House) was built in 1950 on the knoll to the north, site of the Louis H.F.
Conklin House (1848). The present garage marks the approximate location of
the cider mill which operated circa 1850-1885. The ruins of the cider
storage vault are on the adjacent property to the south, dug into the east
side of the hill. The basalt cliffs behind the cider mill site were
quarried for local stone. However, basalt was too hard to be used for most
building purposes, local sandstone being far easier to cut and dress.
Van Wickel-Moore House
(36 Rockleigh Road)
is an example of the smaller frame
farmstead. Built circa 1810-1823, it is a 1½-story clapboard . A necessary
house is just opposite the back door. Moore was a cobbler. In the early
18th century, a 12-acre lot was consider the minimum necessary to provide
a family with a living of the land. On the western slope of the Palisades,
these consisted on a relatively level area of cultivatable land and for
building a homestead, upland pastureland, and forested woodlots on upper
slopes. The farmsteads in this part of the borough typify this concept. [map]
the road is the
Albert Cooper House (35
Rockleigh Road), home the local blacksmith. The forge was located in the
area of the driveway. The house was built circa 1823-1827 as a 1½-sory
gabled-roof, clapboard. Complementary additions to the rear and north are
late 20th century. [map]
this point, return to Borough Hall. For safety, stay to on east side of
Gowdy House on Piermont is best reached by car. From Borough Hall, proceed
across Rockleigh Road onto Willow. Turn right on Piermont. The Gowdy House
is the second on the right.
(42 Piermont Road) is sited on a knoll well back from the road. The
central part of the is a 2-story, gabled-roof, clapboard built circa 1862.
Wings have been added to the north and south late in the 20th century,
keeping within the character of the house. There is one old barn. The
other out-buildings are recent. [map]
Old Gesner Burying Ground
is on private property and may no be
visited. It contains graves of he Gesner and Conklin families.
Unfortunately, few stones remain. [map]
was extended toward Piermont in 1859. It has been known subsequently as
Central Road and finally Piermont Road when that community was
short drive through Historic Palisades, NY, to
Snedens Landing on the
Hudson provides a full sense of this unique area. Return to Rockleigh
Road (south on Piermont, left onto Willow, left onto Rockleigh).
Rockleigh, NJ, and Palisades, NY,
developed as a single community, only to be bisected by the boundary
line in 1769. Take Rockleigh Road Northeast into NY, turning right onto Oak
Tree Road at the blinking light. Cross US 9W at the traffic light onto
Washington Spring Road. As the road descends the Palisades steeply,
follow the road downhill to the river. The Ferry terminal still stands
at roads end.
Historic Hamlet of Tappan, NY, is a short drive west along Oak Tree
Road. A true village, if offers a magnificent Dutch Reformed Church with
interesting grave yards, colonial and federal architecture, and some
rather fine restaurants. Take Rockleigh Road Northeast into NY, turning
left onto Oak
Tree Road at the blinking light.