HILL-TOP HAVEN (There is a lot of text, but you will find it helpful, and it will help you remember what you didn't notice in your 15 minute visit...)
FEATURES: 11 Rooms
Floors,all hardwood except porch,(vinyl;
kitchen & bath(slate);foyer(ceramic).
New firebox in Furnace,
New on-demand hot-water heater,
New 1000 gal. septic tank;
Garage- 3-car carport
Fuel - above ground oil tank
Many perennials,flowering shrubs,
trees, rock walls.
DEAR VIEWER, Please don’t expect this to be an ordinary 2 story, “cookie–cutter” “colonial”, stick-built-all-at-once, with a formal layout of center hall, flanked by LR & DR, backed by kitchen, family room & bath; w/ a few BRs, another bath, basement, maybe fireplace, attic & garage.
IT IS NOT!! This is a unique* house which needs people who love art, books, gardens, and people. You might be disappointed unless you also have some of the needs I addressed when crafting this very interesting home. I'm afraid it is too different for those looking for the ordinary, adequate but un-surprising structure.
*Unique is overused, but there truly is no other.
FIRST OF ALL, “Dutch Colonial” has nothing to do with such a formal plan; No center hall, nothing colonial about it, and the only aspect that can be called “Dutch” might be the hipped-roof of the original stone cottage core!
WHAT WE HAVE here is really 5 separate, custom designed areas,spacious, open,& bright; for many purposes, each one planned and built as the need occurred, from 1961-2009, and all integrated with the original stone cottage-core so as to create a wonderfully functional living machine which is good for a family of rugged individualists who may have many special interests & need their own space.
Or for housing several guests at a time or for entertaining from a few up to 100 on a special occasion. Over 60+ years we have done all this, many times.
SO THE REALLY BIG THING here is the house's flexibility to adapt to new needs, because of its openness to change.
One of those rising needs this house can fill is the problem of providing space for multi-generations.
I mean that one caused by economic changes that necessitate a boomer couple to find a way to shelter one or both aging parents, and/or the boomerang college student not yet career secure (and maybe a pet)... and where each can see his own TV choices without bothering the rest. Some of the big builders are creating these homes now, but for lots of money. We anticipated that need long ago, and built accordingly, but our options are much more reasonable.
THE "NECESSARY ROOM"-Sun room bedroom suite- is one solution which will supply separate entrances; sleeping, sitting, eating, TV & AC amenities, with a few steps to DR, bath & Kit.
The gated and railed patio and deck outside it could even provide play space for a dog.
Upstairs the 5 rooms can be organized to arrange space for a baby's room, office, den, sewing room or just 4 or 5 sleeping areas.
For instance, the library's bookcases were all built elsewhere, trucked up and nailed in place; so they can be removed if a library is not needed, but a child's room is.
A simple corridor could be built to separate the existing 2 two-bedroom suites into 4 separate rooms. There is a full bath upstairs, but a another full bath could be added to the north bedroom, right over the existing one downstairs. MUCH ELSE IS POSSIBLE.
HOW WE BEGAN: We were intrigued---
1951=STARTING WITH A STONE COTTAGE CORE: 3 ACRES, 1 large, 18’x27’, stone (inside-&-out)“hunting lodge”; 12’ceiling, hand-hewn 12’ x 2” exposed beams, wood floors, full basement, 6 windows down, 2 fireplaces, 2 bedrooms, ea. w/ 2 windows; 1 closet, up; 1 bath, up; "& a VIEW". THAT'S WHAT WAS ADVERTISED. (IT TURNED OUT TO BE 1.793 AC.)
THE BANK INSISTED we first install an oil-hot- water heating system, with baseboard radiation down, and radiators up; it was done by the “best plumber in Morris county" and almost blew us out of the house with the heat it generated.
Our kitchen was in the basement, which we partitioned, painted white, added a vinyl floor, an antique dish cupboard, storage units, work counter, a front–load washer and dryer (NOW relatively recent replacements) beside the existing double laundry sink.Today, THAT IS A WONDERFUL CRAFT AREA, FOR IRONING, SEWING,& CREATING... The replaced furnace has a brand new firebox, and there is a brand-new on-demand water heater, as well as a newish well pump, under the stair. The oil tank, in good condition, is in the furnace area.
ADDITION I, Just married, and naïve, we lived with it until 1961 when the sorely needed DR, KIT,& BATH were added.
A 12’x36’section, W/all windows, on the south & west sides, was designed to give us a DINING AREA fit for kings- with a year-round view of the yet-to-be gardens and fauna outside, and a plant shelf for a winter conservatory.
I asked that the GALLERY KITCHEN have a lot of cupboards and all the amenities, but I wanted only to have to go a few steps to get anything. Still, several counters allow 3 or 4 cooks to work at once. The kitchen works for a small family, or to make a party for 45-50, at Christmas, (as we did for 37 years); or to celebrate a 90th birthday for 100 guests, as we did in 2013.
THE BATH has been renovated at least three times; currently has a brand new top-of-the-line commode, a Vanity with under storage, and a tub with safety hand-holds, shower facilities and a folding acrylic & aluminum shower door. Its walls have special waterproof panels behind the Italian tile surface, and the ceiling fixture has heat, fan, and light functions. At the west end is a 2’x6’ hanging closet with sliding doors, a shelf and a light. This is useful for a husband or guests.
Later on, we installed a hardwood floor in the DR, and slate in the KIT and Bath. Baseboard radiation heats the DR & KIT, a radiator in the Bath.
3 renovations later, THE KITCHEN has a stainless sink, revolving storage in 2 corner base cup- boards, a china cabinet, a tea/coffee/spice cupboard-hospitality corner & other amenities.
For years we had needed larger BEDROOMS, OFFICE, LIBRARY & COMPUTER space. Finally an area 22”x 22” was hung over the downstairs 1961 addition, and cantilevered beyond it, west, leaving open porch space below.
It was supported on steel poles set in a 3’x11’x30’cement block foundation. This was originally filled with gravel, and, (covered with straw rugs), provided an outdoor PICNIC/PARTY SPACE for the next 15 years.
The new bedroom space was divided in two, 11’x22’ each, and furnished w/3 huge closets each. Each had 2 banks of 2/3 windows, baseboard radiation, and the north room has a wall A.C. and access to the attic and the large attic fan thru one closet.
The south room was given a lovely balcony, which has a teak lounge chair, another chair, a flag- pole & flag, and a beach umbrella.
With access to the new rooms now provided by spacious openings where the old dormers had been, we each now had our own 2-room suite, of bedroom and office, OR bedroom and den w/fireplace. The old rooms’ floors were wood, and we put beautiful golden oak floors in the new rooms. It is very light and bright upstairs.
We had put 9” insulation in the walls, so outside noise was never a problem. Between the two new rooms is a connecting door, which is useful. Most of the time it is open, so we have a free run right around the rooms & we don’t have to retrace steps.
WE STILL HAVE ALL THE PRIVACY we need, and plenty of storage space everywhere, w/ 11 closets on the second floor alone!
We renovated the UPPER BATH several times; finally installing a custom counter, a Kohler sink & commode (brand new this year). The old tub was retouched, and is clean and bright. There is a new shower head and shower curtain, a 3-shelf- pole for supplies, and a triple-rack back-of-the-door towel holder.
We also added a large double closet in the "OFFICE”, and 3 small ones in the hall. BOOK SHELVES were installed everywhere, starting with the staircase wall, as my studies at grad school required more and more texts. Over time all these areas were well maintained & occasionally renovated as tastes changed. (Upper bath 3 times; lower bath three times; kitchen, twice.)
MORE: Tranquility, Peace. Beauty; plus convenience and service.
ADDITION III, 1990: But, as we grew older, so did the need for a downstairs bedroom suite; for an elder, for a returned child, for lengthy guest visits.... the obvious choice was to close in our wonderful “picnic porch”, where we had held all our outdoor parties thru the years.
So a plan was drawn to provide an 11’x 30’, glass enclosed space, with a bay window for the Christmas tree, 20 feet of benches with lift-tops for storage, a huge closet with shelves, hanging and TV space, a wall AC, a ceiling fan with lights, a number of electrical outlets, electric heat, and private entrances, north and south, to the back patio (to come), and to the long planned front deck.
The bay holds dining table and arm chairs, & a sleeper couch completes the requirement for an independent and private area which can be opened up for parties when not in use.
It has paid its way over and over, becoming my guests’ favorite haven, where they can come and go as they please. At the same time, it can be used for summer lunches, book discussion groups, or as additional Christmas party space.
ADDITION IV, 1991: Our book collection grew, and the weight on the 2nd story floors was consid-erable, so the 1990 architect’s plan also contained one for a 9’x14’, 2 story, library tower, which could contain at least 3000 volumes, up, and a large welcoming foyer, down, with a south facing door. Octagon in shape, the tower was faced with siding used vertically, to give it a “barn” look.
Built with oversized joists & extra insulation, Upstairs was fitted with myriad outlets for all manner of electronics; it also featured custom designed bookshelf units, each with its own lift up desk surface, crafted by the builder and trucked up to be nailed in place. This means that if an owner does not need a library, they can be removed, to leave a room suitable for a sewing room, craft room, baby, or walk-in closet.
A wall A.C., a ceiling fan with lights and a ceramic heater completes the amenities. It was my first computer room and I have spent many happy days there. (There’s also a secret wall cubbie.)
THE SPACIOUS FOYER was built with an indented door, so no necessity to stand in the rain. The indentation left two triangular “pockets,” which became closets perfect to store golf clubs, small garden items, or the collection of canes we had. Opposite was installed a large cedar coat closet, where all outerware, hats and gloves are kept. The floor needed to be washable, so I chose to put down ceramic tile, in a diagonal pattern.
The acoustics were such that after stashing Fred’s keyboard there, we also found it useful for the little spinet piano and bench, for practice, as well as a great place for us to sit when donning boots or ? It has a six branched candelabra ceiling light, and an outside lantern, which are controlled by both interior and exterior switches. The front door, over-door décor, and the waterproofed “stoop” walls are new as of 2010, and the “stained glass” design which camouflages the living room door-window, was made and installed about the same time.
ADDITIONS V: 2007-9; Back Patio, Front Deck:
The ground level west of the sleeping porch of 1990 was about 3’ below it, and about 8’ wide; then it dropped 3’ more to the garden level. This was a perfect “shelf” for the new deck, which was about 7’ wide at its south entrance, gradually expanding to 10’ at the north end, which allowed room for the lovely table, chairs and umbrella, 2 benches and some small stands were added. It is a pleasant place for a picnic.
But we also needed a patio, a place for the grill to keep away the smoke, etc., and a spot for the essential generator when storms like Sandy come along.
We had just replaced the SEPTIC SYSTEM with a new 1000 gal. septic tank, and all the underground pipes and the old orangeburg leaders had been replaced with new pvc stock. We decided to build over it, but to retain access to the smaller access hole with a covered door in the floor, while the main access, covered with a manhole cover, is just outside the perimeter. We gave it a balustrade and gates, so that if necessary, a small animal could have play space, as well as a child. It can house a grill, and has a table, chairs and umbrella stand, for prep space, as well as room for the brand new high capacity generator & fuel.
The GARDEN STORAGE building against the chimney, is convenient for summer furniture storage, garden tools and supplies,the Christmas Tree and seasonal wreaths and décor.
A two-seater SWING amuses youngsters at our picnics, and the adjacent planter boxes usually nourish ebullient bleeding heart plants.
Over the years we acquired 3 more outdoor STORAGE SHEDS and then, Fred gave me for Christmas one year, the option to build a small “STUDIO”, within that cluster, by our parking area. That turned into a wonderful storage area for merchandise from our 5th Avenue showroom, and when we retired, into a display gallery. It still is. It is clean, painted, has shelves all round, electricity, and a hot oil electric radiator. But it looks like I will never paint those paintings or set up my potting wheel!
The most useful outdoor amenity is our CARPORT; with plenty of space for 3 cars; built with 4x4 joists set into cement; with siding covering the ends and inside wall. It has shelves, 5 high, running 72 feet, and a strong plexi roof which allows light, but can withstand 27” of snow.
The shelves are curtained for privacy and safety, and there is electricity, so that repairs can be made, if necessary when it is dark, or when tools are needed outside.
All the outside storage buildings have been recently painted and re-roofed.
MORE GOOD REASONS & RECAP: This is too good a deal to pass up
ESSENTIAL INFO: THIS REALLY IS A RARE OPPORTUNITY
CHESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ: disguised as a second or country home; this very different hilltop “SMALL ESTATE" of almost 2 acres w/an 1879 2-story stone-cottage core, is totally integrated in a Frame/ shingle surrounding structure w/a Library-tower. Built in 5 ADDITIONS 1961- 2009, there are 2 fireplaces & every room has lots of light and views of its park-like setting and gardens, which have been created over many years and glow with flower power from April thru October.. It is amazingly light and bright, easy and economical to maintain, and attractive and functional in every way.
EXCELLENT SCHOOLS, SHOPPING, and the BEST HOSPITALS in New Jersey are nearby; it will certainly continue to appreciate as choice locations like this in this area disappear.
Over the last 60+ years, it has appreciated at the rate of 5-8% a year, and will continue to increase in value over time..
Rather like a comfortable ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE, it has cozy-but very ample spaces, and not by accident!
It was PURPOSE-BUILT over 50 years, with extensive planning, expert building and good materials, always with the aim of convenience, and to fit our life requirements.
AND the property still HAS ALL THE POTENTIAL YOU NEED: IT IS STILL FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW PROJECTS TO ENHANCE LIVING, with lots of versatile space, ie: A master bath could be added to the UPSTAIRS North BR or adjacent den. The downstairs bath could be built out either North or West. A profitable addition would be solar panels on our south facing roof... But my life-partner has gone and I won't have another decade to work, so I must let others enjoy these opportunities.
AS TO VALUE & FOR COMPARISON:
We have the undeniably, best location on the hill, and the most for the money. None of the three flanking properties have the ideal siting we have or the gardens.
ON our west slope, down to Rte 206, is a one story brick, 7 room house with 3 BR, 2 Ba, 1 fireplace, and finished garage/rec room. The original owner was a dear friend. It has no gardens, the acreage is relatively unimproved and is very near the highway, but it is quite functional and has been sold 3/4 times since it was built, c. 1960, after the builder failed to obtain my property. It has been priced at around $500,000.
On the east, a house built by another dear friend in the mid 60's; a 2 story stick-built home on less than 2 acres; with LR, DR, KIT, 1/2 Ba on the first floor; has lately been furnished with a den w/ fireplace and a front porch. Upstairs are 3 BR, a full bath (and the master BR has a full Bath) a walk-in closet. Also a full basement, 2 car garage, and 2 outbuildings. It has not now much in the way of gardens, and but I believe has a new septic system. It is not really well laid out on the first floor, because the kitchen occupies all the prime south side,(But Olga was a great cook, and this was her domain). The DR, with 2 small windows is on the north, while the LR runs along the west, and has only 2 windows, so the space is not as light as it might be. The new den, on the west, gives more space to relax. Nevertheless, it is very functional and it was last sold a few years ago for $619,000, altho he only asked $600,000
ANOTHER- BUT NOT YET ON RECORD:
The newish 2-story modular home on our south side, (Hillside Rd.) has a relatively narrow set-back, on a large site which is completely untamed, but it is big, & said to have all the amenities. It is currently said to be available for $779,000.
We have probably invested more, over the years, than my two nearest neighbors, but they may not have had he opportunity to pick and choose and alter the amenities that would enhance their lives. So often, the available plans are so restricting, that it may seem more trouble than it is worth to deviate. We were just lucky, and had help and good advice, so it all made sense, and it still looks like it was designed as a unit.
The main thing is that we were able, through the years, to pursue all the things that interested us,and space for more. We have loved living here.
IT IS A REALLY HAPPY HOUSE, ready for the year's cycle of celebrations; YOU CAN NEVER BE REALLY DEPRESSED HERE. IT IS JUST TOO CHEERFUL AND SUNNY.
COME AND SEE.