Preserving the Past for the Future

Say “NO” to McMansions at Floods Hill

A developer wants to demolish the historic pre-Revolutionary home at 167 North Ridgewood and put up two McMansions.  Say “NO!” at the Planning Board virtual meeting 7:30 Monday, Feb 1.  Case 275 will be early on the agenda.  Meeting details at http://southorange.org/Calendar.aspx?EID=3088&month=2&year=2021&day=1&calType=0.  To attend online, click above then on the event link, then on Register.

The home at 167 North Ridgewood was featured on our 2011 Gems of South Orange House Tour.  This vernacular stone farmhouse with clapboard additions was built around 1774 by Henry Squire who became a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War army.  George Washington and troops likely drank from the well in front of the house as they passed by on the march from Montclair to Morristown. 

Henry’s son Nathan grew up in the house and, around 1795, is credited with naming the community formerly referred to as Chestnut Hill or merely Orange as “South Orange”.  Nathan ran a very successful distillery of corn and rye whiskies.  He was High Sheriff of Essex County in 1816 and an Inferior Court judge. 

 In 1850, the house and lands were acquired by William Redmond who is know for introducing Jersey cows to this section of the country.  He later built the Italianate mansion that is now occupied by Orange Lawn Tennis Club.  John Flood rented the hillside, now known as Flood’s Hill, to pasture his cows and rented the house. 

On January 20, 2021 the South Orange Historic Preservation Commission adopted a resolution to be forwarded to the Village’s Board of Trustees recommending that the house be designated a Local Landmark.  It is not currently listed on a Register of Historic Places, but is nonetheless a historic and visual treasure that should be preserved for posterity.  It was inventoried (#0719-115) in the 1986 Essex County Cultural Resources Survey not just for its age but for its history.  It is the third oldest surviving structure in South Orange (after the Old Stone House of 1680 and 497 South Orange Avenue of 1770).  There are no other surviving structures from the 1700’s within the current boundaries of South Orange.

Historic homes define and refine neighborhoods.  In addition to the irreplaceable history they represent, well maintained historic homes add visual appeal and diversity to neighborhoods as well as boost property values.  This is an intangible public good.  Those seeking to benefit from the public good should do so without diminishing it in the process.

To join the Historical Society, click on the “Join Us” tab above.


About South Orange Historical and Preservation Society

Founded in 1986, the goal of the organization is to further the study of the history and architecture of the Village of South Orange, NJ.

We strive to:
~ Provide programs to disseminate historical, preservation and architectural information.
~ Support preservation activities within the Village of South Orange.
~ Support the recognition of landmark buildings and historic neighborhoods.
~ Promote adaptive reuse of significant historic structures rather than abandonment or demolition.


The Old Stone House

The Old Stone House in South Orange is believed to be the oldest standing building in New Jersey.  The earliest reference to the Old Stone House dates to September 27, 1680, when it was mentioned in the minutes of a Newark town meeting to discuss and distribute land grants. Historians estimate that Dutch settlers built the farmhouse between 1666 and 1680 after arriving in Bergen.

The house was substantial enlarged in the 1870’s but three of the original stone walls are still visible.  This valuable piece of history sits nearly out of sight behind the South Orange police station between Grove Road and South Orange Avenue. The original was a 1-1/2 story Dutch Colonial on 75 acres of farmland.