The Moon House


One of my regular birding routes takes me past this old house in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and just off the Old Mine Road. It is a good location for warblers in the spring and fall migrations, and also for many nesting birds in the breeding season. Today there were only a few song sparrows, the resident chickadees, titmice, and cardinals – and a brief wave of pine warblers. Not much for nearly the middle of April.

I call it the “Moon House” though I’m sure that’s not its official National Park Service designation. On the uppermost stones and tucked just under the roof line are two slabs of morter, neatly carved with the date, 1830, and a moon and stars. I think I’ve seen something similar before, and I’m wondering if this is taken from an early flag? Or, judging by the initials, which I think say “NST” and the carved heart under them, possibly someone 177 years ago just had a nice outlook on life and a touch of humor? I never got around to researching this particular house, though it is one of my favorite ruins in the park. Sounds like a project…


In more recent history, this place surely was a showplace. Standing in front, a rock wall lines the road and the hill is covered in blooming periwinkles.


This is a young forest, so I’m assuming at one time this must have been a more formal garden area. Across the paved road in the lower right of the photo, is a free-flowing brook, a narrow bit of marsh, and then cornfields.


The end of the house nearest the road used to be boarded up securely, but either vandals or the partial roof collapse has created an opening and exposed one of the rooms.


Just peering through the opening into this one exposed room is enough to get a feeling of the grand room this must have been. All that remains of the staircase banister is the base at the bottom step.


Notice the beams – I’m guessing local chestunt. Tempted as I was to explore, I’m not stupid and stayed outside, photographing from the opening.


If the house itself weren’t enough testimony to this once-beautiful estate, have a look at the carriage house out back. The date on this is, I believe, 1923. I’m going by memory here, but the date is carved on this building as well, and I’ll check it next time through. If you walk the length of the front of this carriage house (I’m assuming that’s what this was) and turn that far corner to the left, you come upon the garden entrance.


There’s not much happening in there right now, but I wonder how many of what surely must have been well-tended garden plants survive? There are stray daffodils here and there, and forsythia bushes not yet in bloom.

The road this house is on continues past a few occupied homes and then through a dying hemlock forest (victims of the woolly adelgid, an introduced parasite) before decidedly dead-ending at the Delaware River.


I’d almost gotten myself totally depressed between historic houses in a state of benign neglect and dying hemlocks, but then I did find some coltsfoot in bloom, and the thermometer actually reached 50 degrees by the time I turned the Jeep around. So – life continues, and tomorrow brings us one day closer to warmer weather and migrating birds.  We hope.



12 Responses to “The Moon House”

  1. pablo Says:

    Had i come upon this old relic, I would not have been as prudent as you were. At personal risk, I think I would have gone inside the old house.

    Great post!

  2. Lynne from Hasty Brook Says:

    Don’t you just wonder what stories those walls could tell? It’s sad that it has fallen into such poor repair. The place must have been really grand in it’s glory days.

  3. Ruth Says:

    The stone work and beams look salvageable. What a sad decline for a lovely home. Nice to see a flower. We are receiving what I hope is our last snow storm of the season and hope to see some new flowers and birds soon.

  4. Carolyn Hoffman Says:

    Thanks for sharing your walk with us. It’s a shame the house is in such poor shape. Even so, it’s good you documented what is left because even this may not survive much longer. I think I’m going to see if I can find out anything about that inscription. Perhaps it’s mentioned somewhere. Thanks again!

    Carolyn H.

  5. obi4240 Says:

    Pablo – in the past I’ve explored too, but I’m getting too old to fall through a floor and my old dog would be useless for rescue…

    Lynne – I sure wish they could talk. I’ve thought that so often..

    Ruth – I’m sure with enough money anything is salvageable, but the park doesn’t have the funding to properly take care of all the homes it acquired. Such a waste…

    Carolyn – it’s probably slated to be demolished one of these days, like so many others. Please let me know if you discover anything…

  6. Photo Buffet Says:

    The archway into the garden is lovely. Seems such a shame that the property was abandoned and allowed to reach this point. Thanks for the pics–it must have been fascinating but sad.

  7. Berry Pickin’ and Sacred Trees « Natural Notes 3 Says:

    […] Revolution. Its branches probably gave shade to the folks that built the nearby house I wrote about in this post, in 1830. That house, by the way, is called ‘Heron’s Nest.’ The mason who built […]

  8. Da Book and Nuts « Natural Notes Says:

    […] familiar, it’s because I’ve written about the area before – remember the posts on the Moon House , Historic Preservation, and the Blue Mountains? Anyway, this was great fun to do and should be out […]

  9. suze Says:

    The NST is really “N & T” and then the heart – fascinating – perhaps someone could find out if, in that area, any couple whose names began with N & T are documented.

  10. suze Says:

    Those beams could be re-used in another home – what a waste!!!

  11. CL Says:

    Where is this house located exactly?

  12. Marjorie McGarrah Says:

    I have been researching Heron”s Nest for several years, as it is one of the most beautiful things in my memory. My Great Uncle, Frank Stoll and his wife Louisa were the owners. I remember going there about 1950 (when I would have been 7 +/-) and walking all over the property with my Uncle. When you turned in the driveway there were clumps of Tiger Lilies; when we went in the house there was a spring which came up in the house, and things were kept there for cooling. The carriage house across the driveway had pianos on the 2nd floor, as he was an expert on piano repair, as well as a horticuturalist. There was a little stream through the property, and a series of small ponds with an assortment of plants all around. I loved that place, and believe it was taken during the Tock Island project, and I had found an entry that said the house had been torn down. I really appreciate your pictures and comments.

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