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.