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Apple Tree House Preservation

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Posted by GET NJ on June 18, 2004 at 15:40:25:

Architect Eric Holterman, of Princeton-base HMR Architects, spoke during a news conference announcing the official kick-off of preservation of the Apple Tree House. Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham (left) said he is working to turn the house, famed for a meeting held ther by President Washington, into a living museum.

Jersey City Revolutionary War Site was the Meeting Place of Washington

Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham and city officials announced in May the designation of an historic architect and project manager for the restoration of the 17th century Apple Tree House, one of Jersey City oldest buildings, located on Academy Street in Journal Square.

The designation and announcement of the grant funds came during National Historic Preservation Month, with the Mayor introducing architect Eric Holterman of the deisgn firm HMR Architects of Princeton.

The first step Holterman said he would take would be to create a preservation plan for the site.

“This is an important part of Jersey City’s history and it has been overlooked and neglected for far too long,” Cunningham said during a news conference at the historic building. “I made a commitment to restore the Apple Tree House and I am excited to see this work begin.”

In addition to the $1.3 million being provided by the Urban Enterprise Zone, the city already has $2.53 million set aside for the Apple Tree House and has been approved for $500,000 from Green Acres funds and $500,000 from a capital bond transfer.

The Apple Tree House, built in the mid-1600s got its name due to the fact that historians record that General Washington, the father of our country, and the Marquis de Lafayette dined under the shade of a great old apple tree in its orchard when planning the retreat through the Jerseys during the Revolutionary War.

It’s historic nature has never been disputed. It was blown down and uprooted by the great gale of September 3, 1821, which did much damage to the farms throughout the State. People came from all over the surrounding country to obtain pieces of its wood, to be made into treasured souvenirs.

Cunningham said the city is working on application for the Apple Tree House to be designated on the state and national historic registers.

Considered one of the oldest pieces of American history, the Apple Tree House is a two story-structure also called the Van Wagenen Homestead. It was originally part of the Dutch settlement of Bergen that dates to the mid-1600s and sits on property purchased by the Dutch when they traded the Ahasimus Nation 80 fathoms of wompums, 20 fathoms of cloth, 12 kettles, six guns, one double kettle, and half a barrel of strong beer for the area known as Bergen.

The property was originally granted to Mr. Garet Garretson by then Governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1660. Garretson later changed his last name to Van Wagenen in honor of his hometown in Holland - Wagenengen.

The site was approximately 100 acres, but the historic building now stands on a smaller plot measuring only 72 feet wide and 184 feet deep, according to records.

The original owners, the Van Wagenen family, owned the property for 279 years before selling it in 1947 to Lawrence G. Quinn, a local funeral director. Mr. Quinn and his family restored the building, which is again being renovated - this time by the City of Jersey City as the building is being converted to a living museum.

“This is the centerpiece of Jersey City and American history in Hudson County,” Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham said. “We have to preserve this building so future generations can learn about the meeting that took place … a meeting that changed the course of our country's history.”

The Apple Tree House is one of Jersey City's most historic sites and was the meeting place of General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.

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