Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dey Mansion (Wayne)

I had to go up to Paterson today for work. I wasn't going to make it back to the office at any reasonable time, so I planned on spending the latter half of the afternoon hiking the Long Pond Ironworks. Alas, I threw shorts and a t-shirt in my car, but forgot walking shoes. Wingtips weren't going to cut it. So, I called an audible and decided to head out to Dey Manson in Wayne.

The drive out through Totowa was interesting, as I passed a couple of 18th century buildings slotted into the tightly packed mid-20th century housing developments (see photo at right).

Dey Mansion's claim to fame is that General Washington used it as his headquarters for a few months in the summer and fall of 1780.

He moved his operations here shortly after the Battle of Springfield to keep a closer eye on the British. The bulk of British army had moved into New York after their last failed attempt to break through Hobart's Gap and take out Washington in Morristown.

The house itself is fairly interesting architecturally,grand Georgian with some Dutch touches. It has some interesting pieces evocative of Washington's time here. My tour guide was a little obsessed with Winston Churchill, for some reason (there is some loose connection to the house).

The real fun part of the house is the attic. It's set up as a home museum, with a little of this and a little of that. Reminds me of the "displays" we would set up as kids. It was neat to be able to wander around the attic.

Main issue for the first time visitor is that there is only one tour guide -- and if she is on an upper floor, she can't hear you at the door, which is locked. I almost left, assuming it was closed. However, I decided to wander the grounds for a bit since I had nowhere in particular to be. After a while the front door opened with visitors leaving the house. Like most things in my travels, this could be easily remedied by putting a sign on the door letting visitors know that a tour is in progress.

[Note: I'm writing this months after the fact, so I don't recall too many specifics about the tour itself, other than the multiple references to Winston Churchill.]

On a side note, I also had a chance to visit Lambert Castle in Paterson. No Rev War connections - it's from the Gilded Age - but if you are anywhere near Paterson, this and the Great Falls are must-see places.