Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Maplewood's Treasure: The Durand-Hedden House & Garden

Maplewood's Treasure: The Durand-Hedden House & Garden

Maplewood, New Jersey is known today for its many stately historic homes and neighborhoods and a strong commitment to preservation. Originally part of Newark Township, then South Orange Township and eventually Maplewood in 1922, the community has a long and storied past since the first six families of European settlers reached the area around 1675. The Maplewood Historic Preservation Commission has designated twelve properties in the township as local historic sites, one of which is the Durand-Hedden House.

The history of the land surrounding the present-day Durand-Hedden house begins on March 27, 1776 when Ebenezer Hedden conveyed twenty-four and one-half acres of land to his son Obadiah Hedden in what was then known as Newark Township. By 1790, Obadiah owned fifty acres. It was around this time that Obadiah and his wife Susannah would construct a small post and beam construction side hall farmhouse with a second floor garret or loft, typical of most early homes during this period. The Hedden family had an established history in America, as Obadiah’s great grandfather, Edward Hedden and his wife Jane, had moved to Robert Treat’s Newark Colony from Massachusetts about 100 years earlier.

In 1812, the home was sold to Henry Durand, brother of Asher Brown Durand, who achieved fame for his work with the Hudson River School art movement. The Durand family had owned the property next door to the house. Henry and his wife, Electa, moved into the home in 1812 and lived there until his death in 1846. Henry was a concert violinist and involved in clockmaking. The home passed onto his son, James Madison Durand, a prominent Newark jeweler, who continued to own the home with Electra until 1866, when Electra passed away.

Circa 1790 kitchen at the Durand-Hedden House.
During the Durand ownership, about 1850, the home was expanded. It is believed that James Madison Durand made a number of changes, which included a three-story addition with two parlors and a side porch on the first floor and two bedrooms on the second floor. The front door was changed to reflect the Greek Revival style and peaked dormers were added over the original section. Inside, a new staircase was installed and all the new rooms had high ceilings, indicative of the period, and in stark contrast to the low ceilings in the original portion of the home.

The William Chauncey Ripley family purchased the house in 1923. This Ripley family continued to make changes to the home, which included turning the back parlor into a modern kitchen and pantry and adding a one-story room with shed roof at the rear of the home as a maid's quarters. This addition was constructed of local red sandstone, which matched the hearth in the 1790 kitchen. The Ripley family lived in the home until 1971.

After the Ripley's departure, the home was abandoned and the home was uncared for. In 1977, the home was threatened with demolition and was saved through the efforts of Maplewood’s mayor, Robert Grasmere. The property was purchased by the township and a non-profit friends group was formed in 1979 to manage and oversee the two-acre site, which includes two other homes that are rented and a detached garage that serves as the site's gift shop. The home was lovingly restored and brought up to code. The beehive oven was reconstructed in the original kitchen hearth. Today, the home and garden is open to the public regularly for tours, programming, and events by a dedicated group of volunteers. Most recently, in 2014, the home was repainted to the original color scheme of straw with green trim and shutters, which was discovered through historical paint analysis. Future goals of the group are to replace the aging slate roof and list the home on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Throughout the year, the Durand-Hedden House Museum & Garden Association installs changing exhibits related to Maplewood's rich and varied history. Currently, an extensive exhibit about the Maplewood Theater is available for viewing and includes artifacts such as a pump organ, a theater seat, photos, playbills, and profiles of early twentieth century actors and actresses who performed there. Previous exhibits have focused on the Durand family, postcards from the past, the development of historic Roosevelt Park, and prominent architects who designed and built homes in Maplewood.

Additional photos of my trip to the Durand-Hedden House & Garden on Pinterest

For More Information
Durand-Hedden House & Garden

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