As you drive around the town, you can see the beauty that arises from this quaint little town, which we call Rumson. Forests of large pine trees line the roads. Chipmunks scurry across the road, and deer gallop across town. You see the beautiful Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers rush in the background as children play in their backyards with friends and pets. Most importantly, you see the beautiful and charming old Rumson homes that line streets like Rumson and River Road and Bellevue Avenue. But now, these homes are slowly disappearing as many knock them down and build anew, or completely renovate them. For the first time in centuries, these old-world homes are at risk and in just a few decades, they could all be gone unless we do something.
These homes are more than just fancy estates of old Rumson families. They are part of the hearts of many that inhabit this small town, like me. But don’t take my word for why you should keep these 18th and 19th century estates; just take a look at these homes that represent the old-world charm and have personally touched my life.
20 Bellevue Avenue is the perfect example of colonial beauty. Standing on over four acres and containing more than 9,636 square feet, the home allows the owners enough space to freely roam. But the house is known for more than just its size. It has achieved what many wish in their own homes: to keep the original beauty while having modern technology for 21st century-living. It boasts both a completely redone kitchen with top notch appliances and a new full basement, but the home still has the original brick exterior from 1891. But this home has more than just grandness; it is the site where I passed an important landmark in my life. It is where I had my first middle school basement party. My close friend had her 12th birthday party in this home, the residence of her grandparents. To knock down a home like this would more than just destroy concrete and bricks. It would ruin the memories that many have there.
Another home that exemplifies charm and provides special memories is 79 Rumson Road. The home has over 12,000 square feet and 3.9 acres. Although the home was redone with a grey exterior, the inside of this estate was kept completely in its original grace. It has four large master suites, each with a bedroom, bathroom, closet, and changing room, and the exquisite study, dining, living, and family rooms are perfect for entertaining in both the 19th and 21st century. It was originally owned by the Isherwood family, my former crafts teacher at Rumson Country Day School (RCDS) since it was built in 1895 with the help of well-known architect Stanford White. It was then handed over to the Todd family, who are related to Christine Todd Whitman, New Jersey former governor. When I had first visited this home to see my best friend at the age of six, I was shocked by the mere size of the front door. 79 Rumson Road was my second home from beginners to 4th grade and will always be a part of my heart. Although this is now owned by a current RCDS family, I will always remember it from my childhood years. Passing this home daily reminds me of the years of happiness that I experienced there and how it had personally touched me. Rumson would not be the same without this magnificent estate.
Lastly, 45 Bellevue is the most tragic home of all. It has over five acres of gorgeous gardens with rose bush mazes, huge fountains, and over 600 peonies. The home is just as impressive with 17,000 square feet and seven fireplaces. Renovations have been minor and include a new kitchen, slate roof, baths, and air conditioning. After trying to sell the estate for some time, the house is now being split into two separate real estate properties: one with the original home and some of the property and then a piece of land where new construction will most likely take place. However, much of the landscaping will be cut down and destroyed in this process. This home is special to me as it was a landmark that I visited and passed almost every day on my way to RCDS for the past nine years. To see the split up of the property and the destruction of the gardens is upsetting to me and many others that have a special relationship with this home.
If you don’t believe that old Rumson homes really have the true beauty that I have described, take a walk by these homes and look at them for yourself. If you already agree, you may be wondering how you can help. Now, you may not have the $4.495 million to spend on 45 Bellevue Avenue, but you can help in little ways in your own home. When renovating, do it tastefully, and try to preserve older crown moldings, extravagant staircases, and charming exteriors. Remember, it’s the little things that make these homes truly magnificent. And if everyone could contribute just a bit to preserving this original beauty, we could keep Rumson what it always has been and always should be: a charming town with homes ranging from small Victorian colonials to 19th century estates. We can all make a difference, one home at a time.