1830: The Construction
— Name, Title
It's believed that Jacob Wise began construction of the house in 1830. Its construction is wood over brick and the style is Greek Revival. In 1852, Jacob sold the house to his brother David. In 1854, David’s son Silas married, and the happy couple set up housekeeping at the Neighbour House. This marriage produced three children. The youngest, Stewart, married in 1888 and moved into the house with his parents. Silas and his wife Ann (Apgar) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1904. What a celebration it was: over 80 guests filled the first floor which was decorated with flowers everywhere and the hallway was strung with garlands of white and gold. Young and old danced as fiddlers fiddled. Stewart and his wife Kate celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in much the same fashion.
World War I: The Roof is Given to the War Effort
The Neighbour House originally had a copper roof – a dazzling sight on a bright sunny day. During World War I, the roof was removed and donated to the war effort. During this period German Valley became known as Long Valley in response to the anti-German sentiment.
1738: The Arrival of the Neighbours
In early summer of 1738, Leanhart Nachbar, age 40, his wife and three daughters were part of a group of 38 who sailed from Rotterdam, Holland, on the good ship Robert and Oliver of Dublin towards New York. Strong winds blew the ship off course and the ships commander was forced to land in Philadelphia. After the men scribed their names (X) to the loyalty oath in the State House (now Independence Hall), the group was determined to reach its original destination. The journey led them through the beautiful valley known as German Valley. No one is certain why the group chose to stay in the valley – either they were encouraged by old friends from home who had settled here, or were impressed enough with the area to stay.
The Nachbar family settled on land surrounding the present house, the daughters married and Mr. Nachbar soon became the Father of German Valley. It is believed that the original homestead was a log cabin located somewhere on the property near the present house. Leanhart Nachbar changed his name to Leonard Neighbour sometime before 1750. In 1749 the settlers learned that the land legally belonged to William Logan of Philadelphia. Leonard traveled to Philadelphia and purchased 310 acres for $352 and had the deed in his possession by 1750. The farmstead passed to his only son, Leonard Neighbour II (1741-1806) who then passed it to his son, Leonard III (1764-1854).
Leonard III was 91 at the time of his death. He led a full and impressive life, serving as a judge and as a member of the State Legislature. His obituary lists eight living children, sixty-six grandchildren, sixty-three great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren. In 1830, Leonard III divided the homestead and sold each half for $5000 to his two sons: Leonard IV (1802-1880) and Jacob Wise (J.W.) (1805-1889). Leonard III also owned and operated an apple distillery, which he built prior to 1800. Thirty years later, after attending a temperance lecture at a local church, he was so inspired and moved that he had the distillery destroyed and gave Jacob its value in money. Leonard III also had a third son, David, who married three times and had eight children with his third wife.
Daily life in the household in the mid-1920s was typical for the area. Stewart and his son Fred, with outside help when needed, ran the farm. Plowing and haying were all accomplished with teams of horses. The women helped with the milking and other chores. During this period, the house had a long wooden covered porch across the back. Fred and his family lived on one side of the house and used the present kitchen. Stewart and Kate lived on the other side and used part of the back porch for the kitchen. There was no running water in the house, but there was a hand pump in each kitchen.
Many Sunday summer afternoons would find the extended family sitting under the stately elms down by the river. Here the women kept cool while embroidering or crocheting. Dressed in their long skirts and broad sunbonnets, they made a fine picture of rural life. Beyond the house, past the present garage, was a stone barn, built in the tradition of early German barns. It was large and L-shaped, with the one wing being formed by a cow barn, probably added at a later date. The stone barn had at least two large box stalls with Dutch doors on the ground floor. The barn was torn down in 1930, the stones being used for construction of other buildings in the area.
1929: Hard times for the Neighbour House
Around 1929 Stewart found it necessary to sell the farm. It was a sad day for the Neighbour family. For the first time in 190 years, the property was owned by an outsider. The new owners were part of the Johnson & Johnson family who already owned half of the land, which was sold by Leonard IV many years before. The Johnson’s used the house for tenants and farm workers. The house changed owners once more, but stood idle and empty for some time…a haven for hobos passing through. During this time much damage was done to the house as the various unwelcome occupants burned shutters and other parts of the house as firewood.
1941: The Deckers Move In
Luckily, in 1941, a young couple, Joseph and Marion Decker, purchased the house and gradually restored it without alterations other than adding running water, bathrooms and modern heat. The Decker’s lived in the house for nearly 50 years and raised two children here. Both Mr. and Mrs. Decker had a strong interest in preserving the architecture and history of the area.
1990: The Neighbour House joins the National Register of Historic Places
It was the dream of the late Mr. Decker to see the Jacob Wise Neighbour House placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990, the nomination was approved and accepted by the New Jersey Register and now awaits approval from Washington DC for entry to the National Register. Washington Township is proud of the Deckers, and the Historical Society recently dedicated the Curators Room of their museum to Joseph Decker.
1990: The original Neighbour properties are rejoined
The house was purchased in late 1990 from the Decker estate by Jack Borgenicht, who owned the surrounding acreage. After 160 years, the two original Neighbour properties were joined, as they had been over 250 years ago when Leanhart Nachbar first settled in German Valley.
1994: Long Valley’s first Bed & Breakfast opens
Iris and Rafi Kadosh first opened the Neighbour House as a Bed & Breakfast in the fall of 1992. Both natives of Dimona, Israel, they arrived in Long Valley to manage the house fulltime. In 1994 Rafi refinished the huge open basement into a large apartment that his family now occupies. Their two sons, Sagi (born 1994) and Neeve (born 1999) keep their parents busy, along with the guests of the very popular B&B. The family is active in the community, and continues the passionate tradition of preserving the history of this beautiful home.
2000: The Kadosh family purchase the Neighbour House
The Kadosh family, after managing the Bed & Breakfast for nearly 8 years, purchase the home as their own.
Sited on a sloped lawn amidst mature specimen trees and overlooking rural West Mill Road and the distant South Branch of the Raritan River, the Neighbour House reflects the early and mid-nineteenth century romantic ideal of domestic architecture. This high-style farmhouse, built in 1830, represents an early and notable example of Greek Revival architecture in rural Morris County. The degrees of detailing and workmanship distinguish the Neighbour House from other rural farmhouse of the period.
The Neighbour House features a low-hipped roof, full-length windows on the first floor and frieze band windows on wide flushboarding on the second floor. Classical moldings and door surrounds, mahogany handrail and newel post, marbleized wooden fireplace mantles and interior window shutters are just some of the house’s finer interior details. The house is surprisingly sophisticated for such a rural location. It stands as a single, prominent feature on the landscape, dominating a setting of ideals of the period. The house, whose summer kitchen and service rooms (milk room, cold room and laundry room) were located in the basement, is devoid of wings and dependencies that are typical of farmhouse of the period. It also reflects a finer classical design, the kind illustrated in the architectural pattern books of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century. Carpenters and builders, who had little or no formal architectural training, used pattern books as models for their clients’ houses. Although the builder of this house has not been established, it appears that he may have used designs from one of the many popular pattern books or builders’ guides available at that time.
The cellar contains four rooms with some of the original doors. The outside entrance door retains its original iron strap hinges and lock. The room used as a laundry room contains a pair of stone piers with arched brick heads supporting the large kitchen fireplace and hearth on the first floor.
Throughout the house, much of the original hardware is intact. The random-width, heart-pine floors appear to be original. Note the fluted keystone, which crowns the arch dividing the hallway into entrance hall and stair hall. The front door retains its original unornamented hardware including the wrought iron, Norfolk box lock and latch. The mantle pieces in the identical parlors are wood with transitional Federal/Greek Revival detailing. Pocket doors separate the north and south parlors and the north parlor mantelpiece was marbleized using a floating oil technique to imitate the appearance of veined black Egyptian marble.
The folding shutters on the downstairs windows were in past times, kept closed in the summer, thus helping to keep the house cool and the carpets and drapes from fading. The kitchen has its original fireplace, complete with Dutch oven and wrought iron crane. The cupboard beside the fireplace was used to warm the blankets during the day so the family could snuggle down in warm blankets on a cold winter’s night. The paint on the inside of the cupboard doors is original. A winder stair leads from the kitchen to the room above.
The four principal rooms upstairs were originally divided by side-to-side closets with one closet serving each room. The design was later altered by the addition of the bathroom. The mantle pieces on the second floor are Federal in style and are typical of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Two mantle pieces retain their original marbleized treatment in imitation of black Egyptian marble.
The stairway leading to the second floor is graced with a fine mahogany banister. At the time this house was built, the mahogany was brought was from Trenton by horse and wagon over rough and rutted roads.
One of the most distinguishing features of the house is the front porch with square column pillars, which support the porch roof and give the house its Greek Revival style. The original back porch was removed sometime between 1930 and 1940. The present porch was constructed in 1960.