The original two-story stone farmhouse was built on the property in the mid-1700s. Following the French and Indian War, the house was purchased by James Marcus Prevost, an officer in the British Army. At the dawn of the revolution, Prevost was recalled into active duty, leaving his wife and five children at the Hermitage.
As the wife of a British officer, Theodosia Prevost faced increasing obstacles as lines were drawn and loyalties tested on the home front of the American Revolution. Bergen County, specifically around Paramus, was a hot bed of military activity during the war. Both the British and the Americans raided local farms, confiscated goods, and attacked enemy supply chains.
Theodosia found herself at the crossroads of the American Revolution, with her home at the Hermitage positioned in the middle of the British and the Americans.
A Revolutionary Invitation & Love Affair
In July 1778, following the Battle of Monmouth, Theodosia invited General George Washington and his officers to the Hermitage during the court martial of General Charles Lee at nearby Paramus First Church.
Washington headquartered here for four days with his staff, including Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens. He was also accompanied by the young French nobleman, the Marques de Lafayette.
During the war, Theodosia met Aaron Burr. The two quickly developed an intimate friendship that attracted immense criticism and disapproval. After the death of her husband and the end of the war, Theodosia and Burr married at the Hermitage in July 1782.
After the American Revolution, the Hermitage passed through a series of owners and was used as a tavern, before it was purchased in 1807 by a young doctor, Elijah Rosencrantz and his wife, Cornelia Suffern. Four generations of the Rosencrantz family lived at the Hermitage.
In the 1820s, inspired by the industrialization of nearby Paterson, Elijah Rosencrantz built a cotton mill along the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook. The Rosencrantz family owned and operated the mill for more than sixty years.
In 1847–48, the architect William H. Ranlett renovated the Hermitage in the Gothic Revival style seen today. The original stone farmhouse was completely remodeled, adding a new wing and outfitting the house with modern amenities including running water and heat.
A new era …
In 1917, Bess Rosencrantz opened a tea room in the front parlors of the Hermitage. She ran the business with her niece, Mary Elizabeth, for more than a decade. While Mary Elizabeth ran the kitchen and planned the menus, Bess entertained their visitors with tales of the Hermitage’s historic past.
Mary Elizabeth was the last Rosencrantz to live at the Hermitage. When she died in March 1970, she bequeathed the house on five acres of grounds, along with its contents, to the State of New Jersey. In 1970, the Hermitage was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Today the Hermitage Museum is a historic house museum maintained by the Friends of the Hermitage Inc. a non-profit 501c3, in partnership with the State of New Jersey.
The Friends of the Hermitage received a General Operating Support Grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the New Jersey Department of State.
Th Hermitage has many ticketed events available for sale online.
We preserve and share the stories of the past, to help shape a better future.
Learn how early inhabitants of The Hermitage solved many farming and manufacturing issues.
A Lifeline to the Past
The Hermitage has thousands of historical documents, photos and artifacts. Learn more, visit soon!