Rutherford Hall - the old Mansion / Convent
Are you folks aware of what is going on at the old Rutherford Mansion?
Allamuchy Township purchased it... actually I believe their board of ed did, The new portion is part of the school system now. The old mansion part though is being restored.
It has quite a storied history, and is now being used to hold public education and cultural programs. It is a great building... check it out!
Thanks for the posting. I never knew the name of the property but went to a few of the fairs that were held by the nuns who lived there, back in the mid-80s. I believe there were many Hungarian nuns there who cooked stuffed cabbage, noodles and cabbage and other great Hungarian food that was sold at the fair. I just imagined what it would have looked like in there and now, on the site, I am able to view some pictures. We still comment on the food.
Next Wednesday I am participating in a free to the public "Wellness Morning" event. A few exercise folk holding sample classes.
Stop by and see the inside of the mansion "live". The woodwork, decorated ceilings and so are are a treat to see.
when the Nuns owned the place it was called the Villa Madonna...it was a retreat for elderly Nuns
When Rutherfurd owned it, it was retreat for tired Presidents
When Rutherford owned it, (Rutherford/Stuyvesant) Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to have a private train come in to Allamuchy Station so he could have an affair with Lucy Rutherford there.
Yup i heard that. There is also another Rutherford House past the 80 West to PA on ramp - across from the Shell Station on the right. Not sure the name of the road there but from what i remember it's not a mansion but close & heard Rutherford's lived there as well.
There's an old church/chapel that's really cool if you go up that road. I think it's called Puffer Road.
Rutherford's still own the property on Puffer road along with the family chapel! The mansion used to called Villa Madonna at started as a retreat house for The Daughters of Divine Charity and later became a home for the elderly retired nuns. I worked there for more than 15 years and grew up there as my mother also worked there as a nusre for the sisters. Many of the Sisters events, the Rutherfords would come visit,they even had a Rutherord / Stuyvesant Family reunion a few years befoer we closed up the Convent. There is so much history there and the Sisters enjoyed telling it, especially Sister Estelle, whom researched history & kept in contact with the Rutherfords.She loved to tell the "gossip" of President Roosevelt's affair with Lucy!!
Yes, it is true! Alot of exciting things are going on at Rutherfurd Hall. The website has all of their upcoming events; it seems events are being added constantly so check in often. I understand you can also book parties, events and weddings on site now.
They recently had 2 cultural events: a theatrical play written for Allamuchy and a Concert Piano event that was incredible. Cannot wait for the next event!!
Franklin D. Roosevelt used his personal train to stop in Allamuchy in September 1944...he was on his way to his home in Hyde Park, New York...he spent the day visiting the town...and visited a dog breeder on Puffer Rd...he had dinner at the Rutherford-Stuyvesant mansion...and departed...nothing inappropriate happened...I knew an eye witness to the visit...who was part of the household staff...she swore that it was strictly a social call...[ yes it is common knowledge that Lucy Mercer and F.D.R conducted a long term affair]...here is a picture of the Ferdinand Magellan F.D.R.s private railroad car... this is the car F.D.R....was riding in during his visit...it is now in a museum in Florida
Wow! Who knew? And here I thought so highly of him and Eleanor's relationship : (
it is seldom mentioned that Lucy Mercer brought a great deal of comfort to F.D.R. she used to massage his polio ravaged legs...and they wrote letters to each other for years...when they could not visit each other...the affair was an open secret...F.D.R.s daughter commented on the care Lucy Mercer offered to her father...and stated that it was a kindness...what they should be remembered for is the affection they shared for each other...
Comfort is a beautiful thing and I'm not judging it, to each his own ~ I just had no idea and never expected it having always looked up to both, FDR and Eleanor. Maybe Eleanor knew and realized that love is love ~ and if someone could make her husband feel better she had no problem with it ~ loving without possessing, isn't *that* a concept to ponder?
When my children went to our Lady of Hungary school in NJ, we always went to the fair every year in Allamuchy. They were wonderful nuns and gave my children a great education. Whatever happened to their order?
the last order of nuns who lived at Rutherford Hall...was the Sisters Of Christian Charity...here is a link to their orders homepage http://www.scceast.org/
Sisters of Christian Charity ran St. Mary's School and had their Motherhouse in Mendham; Rutherford hall was a different order, not sure which one.
Old Man- I worked at the convent and it was/is The Daughter Of Divine Charity. They moved to the main house in Staten Island when they sold the house to Allamuchy. The Daughters of Divine Charity were the only ones that lived there other than the Rutherford/Stuyvesant Family.
@ Eleanor - the Sisters could not afford the upkeep of the mansion anymore & were dwindling in numbers as that house was for the aged sisters to come live out the remaining years in peace and comfort. They were a teaching order and taught in many schools and had a private girls school( St Joseph Hill Academy) in Staten Island where the main house is. Most of the aged sisters were moved back to the main house in Staten Island when they closed the doors, a few had to go to a nursing home as the house was not set up like the Villa for wheel chair access etc.
Sister M. William McGovern
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The three Provinces of the Daughters of Divine Charity in the United States have been merged into one, with a Staten Islander as their head. Representatives of each of the three Provinces assembled in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., on Jan. 3, to establish the new Holy Family Province, and named Sister M. William McGovern of St. Joseph Hill Convent and Academy, Arrochar, provincial of the new entity.
Saint Joseph Hill Convent will serve as the Provincialate. The first meeting of Sister William and her council at the new headquarters will take place Tuesday. Elected members of the council are: Sister M. Josita DiVita, a former provincial and longtime religion and French teacher at St. Joseph Hill Academy high school; Sister M. Hyacinthe Vamos of Detroit, Mich., who taught in Hill’s elementary school in the late 1950s and 1960s, and Sisters Antoinette Luin and Mary Coffelt of Akron, Ohio.
GREW UP IN GREAT KILLS
Sister William grew up in Great Kills. A Hill alumna, she entered the Daughters of Divine Charity novitiate in Allamuchy, New Jersey, in 1955 and professed first vows in 1957. She graduated from Fordham University and took her final vows in 1962.
Provincial superior of the former St. Joseph Providence, Sister spent most of her religious career at St. Joseph Hill Academy and Convent, establishing the school’s guidance department and serving as director of her order’s development office. She also formed a group of Lay Associates of the Daughters of Divine Charity in Staten Island.
At Hill, Sister William taught French, British literature and journalism, moderated the Press Club, yearbook and school newspaper, among her many and varied duties at the school.
The Daughters of Divine Charity will hold a year-long celebration of the centennial of their arrival in the United States beginning in October. The nuns established Saint Mary’s Residence for women in Manhattan in 1913. Three years later, they opened Saint Joseph Hill Academy on Staten Island, where they have been a presence ever since, continuing their teaching mission with children from pre-K through grade 12.
The order extends across the continent, with convents in New York, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and California. In addition to teaching, the nuns provide housing for women, care for the emotionally disturbed, maintain assisted living facilities and do parish ministry, including catechetical work, pastoral ministry to the sick and homebound, youth ministry and the supervision of various parish organizations.
@ Eleanor - In the article I posted about Sister William, you will see Sister Josita mentioned, she was head of the Villa MAdonna for many years (and 1 of my bosses).When you came to the fairs we had at the Villa, you may have met her.
It was wonderful to have worked there for a big part of my life and be a part of the history of the house. It was like one big family working there. It was a sad day when they broke the news to us that they had to sell the house. Most of us working there had grown up there or been working there for a very long time.
I am truly happy they are preserving the Rutherfurd Mansion.What a treasure to be sure. I plan on going to many of the educational functions in the future.
Thank you oldman for the picture of FDR's train...Ferdinand Magellan
Lucy is buried in the Tranquility Cemetery next to her husband Winthrop along with the other Rutherfurds/Stuyvesants.
I have posted this to the calendar as well, but for those who may miss is, They have started a "Wellness Morning" program at Rutherfurd Hall, open to the pubic.
Location: Rutherfurd Hall, located at 1686 Route 517 Allamuchy, NJ 07820 (the old Villa Madonna by the route 80 / 517 intersection)
9-10am Yoga ($10 per class) (ages 13 and up)
10-11am Fabu: Dance Fitness ($10 per class) (ages 13 and up)
11am-12pm Tai Chi Inspired Exercises for All ($10 per class) (all ages)
Another article on Ruthurford Hall..wondering if any Harry Potter fans have been signed up the camp this summer? Would love to see it during the camp time. If anyone has signed up their child..PLEASE, give a review when it's over. It sounds like a great camp week for those in love with the series.
My twin son and daughter went to the nursey school at Villa Madonna.The nuns were great with the students. The head teacher I think was Sister Anita.
Conrad's Mom: Sister Anita was the actual teacher who taught my son around 1981 and my daughter around 1983 at the Villa Madonna nursery school. Do you remember what year (roughly) your twins were at the Villa Madonna nursery school? Did Sister Anita actually teach your twins. Or, was she only the head teacher at the time when your twins went? It was a great experience for us.
All: Is there anyone else who had children who went to Villa Madonna Nursery School during the early 1980's or who had children taught by by Sister Anita at Villa Madonna Nursery School during any years?
Just realized I didn't put the link to the Harry Potter camp..oops!
I am suggesting that this Forum Webmaster update the title of this blog to:
"Rutherford Hall - the old Mansion / Convent - Villa Madonna"
REASON: More people do know "Rutherford Hall" more as "Villa Madonna" and probably (like myself) did not know that "Rutherford Hall" is "Villa Madonna". Almost half of the postings so far have remembered this facility as "Villa Madonna". Updating the title of this webpage will draw more readers to this webpage who will learn the robust, magnificent history of this amazing building. As more readers are drawn to this webpage, more "good memories" will be "shared" among all of those who remember "Villa Madonna" in addition to memories of "Rutherford (Rutherfurd) Hall". I am hoping that the Webmaster can make this "title" change...and the Webmaster has done by making title changes to other Forum blog webpages.
I went to Villa Madonna for Nursery School, it think it was either 1980 or 1981. I was just looking at the class pictures the other day. Im still friend with some of the kids i went to school with there.
So far I have gone to two events held at Rutherfurd Hall. A lecture from a historian on the Rutherfurds/Stuyvesants and also a talk on FDR and Lucy Mercer by Jonathan Alter! A great time and very interesting. The house is magnificent! Grounds are beautiful!! Thanks to all the connections that have made this possible! A true treasure. I look forward to more exciting programs!
JD 4020: In addition to the pictures of your 1980 or 1981 Villa Madonna Nursery School Class, do you have a list of the "names" of the students in your class?
A few of you have mentioned that you knew people that used to work for the Rutherfurds when they lived at the home and/or heard stories from those that worked for the family. I just started an internship at Rutherfurd Hall and will be researching the staff/servants that worked there. I would love any information that the Hackettstown Life community could provide - contact info for previous workers (or children if they have passed), stories, etc. Thanks for the help!
MY twin children went to Villa Madonna school in 85/86 in the morning and 86/87
in the morning. Sister Anita was the head teacher. She did teach them. There was another nun too. I can't recall her name. A "Miss Kathy" taught with them. I loved them all. They only charge me for one child. Miss Kathy said my kids reminded her of a couple on a wedding cake. They were always holdings hands. They took the time and effort to get them away from each other into different areas of the school day. My daughther at the time was so close to my son. He would answer for her. That was the only reason I sent them to pre school We had a great 2 terms there.
Thanks for the great information. Sounds like we all had great experiences at the Villa Madonna Nursery School. It is sad that they had to close. Looks like we missed each other since my children were in the 1981 and 1983 classes.
I am hoping that "JD 4020" has a list of names to go with his "1980-1981 Villa Madonna Class Pictures".
I am also hoping beyond hope that this Forum Webmaster will upgrade the title of this blog to "Rutherford Hall - the old Mansion / Convent - Villa Madonna" so that it will attract more contacts who attended or used Villa Madonna Nursery School...and who will learn the rich history of that facility.
Thanks again for your comments.
when i go over to my parents house this weekend i will dig up the pictures. i think my brother was there in 85 or 86. we were just looking through our allamuchy year books too and WOW they were funny. One of the sisters used to come over to our farm and hunt ground hogs, pretty funny.
pampur - I would be very interested in attending any future events at Rutherford Hall. Do you know how I would find out about upcoming events?
Rutherfurdhall.org has info. I discovered it when I recently attended a program there.
FUTURE EVENTS AT RUTHERFURD HALL...AND OTHER LINKS:
EVENTS FOR ADULTS AND FAMILIES:
EVENTS OF SUMMER 2012 YOUTH PROGRAMS:
JOIN RUTHERFURD HALL EMAIL LIST:
CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS FOR RUTHERFURD HALL:
Thank you so much lola and SW1 for all the info. I have always been interested in the Rutherfurd Mansion and it's history and the Rutherfurd family. I will definitely check out the websites.
Does anyone know if the Stuyvesant/Rutherford families had any significant cars in the 1930's and 1940's? In particular, in 1944 FDR was seen getting into a car when he disembarked off the train in Allamuchy to visit Lucy. We are trying to find out what year and make the car was.
Debbie55 - I am a volunteer historical researcher at Rutherfurd Hall. I have posted on HL before about the Rutherfurd estate, but in a different thread... In my research, which has mostly been about the estate workers, I haven't come across anything about the cars that were owned by either the Stuyvesant or the Rutherfurd families. I do end up finding information on a variety of topics related to the Stuyvesant/Rutherfurd's,but there I haven't found any mention of cars either...
There is a small booklet by Frank Dale, a local historian, titled "Warren County Chronicles: Makin' Tracks". This book has 2 photographs from the train depot - one picture of the Ferdinand Magellan at the depot and another photograph of staff members/reporters. In this photo, you can see a car in the background but it is parked & facing the train. I looked through local newspapers from that time and couldn't find a single report about FDR's visit... which isn't strange, considering he most likely didn't want this visit to be reported on. But, through conducting interviews with those that were related to employees of the Rutherfurd estate, FDR's visit is one that is still remembered.
If anyone would happen to know about the cars, that would be an interesting piece of information. Also, just throwing this name out there - any Hackettstown locals remember a man by the name of Arthur Danks? He worked for both the Rutherfurd & Stuyvesant families and was a prominent man in the agriculture world as well as in the local community.
@ JD 4020 I worked for the Nuns from 86 on and that had to have been Sister Janet that hunted ground hogs! She was an absolute riot! She used to volunteer on the first aide squad as well and go fishing with the guys out on the lake!
@ Conrad's Mom - I started working for the Nuns in 86.I worked with Miss Kathy, Sister Anita (she was the head of the school), then there was also Sister Beata ( she was very tiny & so kind) and Sister Dorothy.
You had my twins in your class. Michael and Deidre. Didn't you attend college at that time in the local area.. They use to hold hands all the time when they started and my son talked for both of them. Miss Kathy said they looked like a wedding couple on top of a cake. lol The school really worked well for them and they enjoyed it. They had Sister Anita and Sister Beata too.
@ Conrad's Mom
Yes i was going to Centenary College at the time! I also worked in the college day care but the Sister's preschool was by far one of the best around at the time! I loved working there! Everyone always had a good day there! I think I do remember your twins....I am trying to see if i have any class pictures still!! It's so funny to stumble on names of kids that i worked with so long ago! I ended up getting married and not finishing school :-( but i stayed with the sisters...i became a cna and worked with the aging sisters after we closed the school. That place was like my 2nd family! They watched me grow up too only not from preschool!! LOL What have become of Michael & Diedre? I hope they are well!
They went to Hackettstown Schools. Both went on to college. Son married his high school sweetheart and lives in Morristown. Deidre is married and a year. She is a Nanny and volunteer EMT and lives in town. They are 30!
@ Conrad's Mom - So nice to hear that kids i worked with turned out having a great life! 30!! Oh my :-( LOL
when Roosevelt traveled by Presidential train...he brought along his personal car...that was in a railroad car on the train...I do not know that he did that during his Allamuchy visit...I do know that the Rutherford estate had several expensive cars at their use...including at least one Ford Zephyr..
Oldman - thanks for the car info! Would you happen to know any of the other car models or other interesting tidbits about the estate? (I know that you have posted previously before on this subject... care to share more? I am conducting historical research for Rutherfurd Hall, so new information - even if it is something as "small" as the type of car that the Rutherfurd's owned - can be useful in writing the history of the estate!)
Doesn't the current Rutherfurd family have any information on car models and other interesting stories to tell about this?
Anyone have ANY info on the old church on Puffer Rd? It's part of Rutherfurd estate. Gorgeous. I am worried it will just deteriorate...I would loveeeee to get married there (2014).
Attended High Tea yesterday at Rutherfurd Hall. It was a lovely experience! The lower level is mostly restored, and we could see some of the restored rooms on the second floor also. There are window seats at each landing with a view overlooking the lake. I could picture myself sitting there reading for hours ! Lucky Sisters!
Sadly before the church sold the building, they had an auction and many of the beautiful furniture pieces and chandeliers are all gone. Although I hear the Rutherfurd family rescued some of them and put them into storage.
My grandson attended the Harry Potter Day Camp last summer and had the best time.
They will be holding two sessions this summer 1 week for new 1st year attendees.
There will be a second session for returning Harry Potter Day Camper's.
What better place to hold this then this beautiful old mansion.
This will again be my grandson's birthday gift. I read all the books after he went, never realizing how strong his interest is. It gives us so much to talk about. There are times he is so surprised when grandma brings up some Harry Potter information.
I love that he had such a great time. He stayed the week with us too, as we live closer.
It was great in every aspect!
I love everything they have done with Rutherford Hall. They offer so many diff events that
are open to the public. You can even hold social and business events there. They deal with certain wonderful caterers.
We also went to High Tea and enjoyed a very nice afternoon. There is such a rich history (no pun intended) to this estate – from the Rutherfurd Crater on the moon to the twin trees at Rockefeller Center in 1937.
The Villa Madonna nuns acquired the property for a convent through the estate’s will…unfortunately they did not have an appreciation for the fully furnished mansion. Today wires hang from the ceiling where chandeliers once hung and much of the furnishings were lost to auction. The nuns did leave behind the gaudy red carpet that is glued to the floors.
Mary - who is on the BOE and chairman of the committee - is so incredibly knowledgeable to all things Rutherfurd. The mansion is just beautiful. For any info you desire regarding the mansion or the chapel, I would start here and contact the committee http://rutherfurdhall.org/
@Honeybadger....there never really was a lot of furniture in the Villa. The nuns had the antique trunks, a few formal parlor chairs, the table&chairs in the library,a few other odds & ends. There was not much original furniture there. I basically grew up there and worked there until it closed. Most of the furniture was basic table & chairs in the dining room & servants dining rooms..there was a server in the main dining room. The nuns are not supposed to have much per the vow of poverty they took. I can say however that most of them did appreciate how beautiful the grounds and home were...they kept up the gardens..Sister Felicitas & Margarette took care of them.They loved to sit out on the back patio and look out to the lake,quite possibly remembering when they came as young nuns! I spent many days walking the sisters in wheelchairs to let them sit by the many statues for some prayer time.
The mansion was also home to the novitiate, the formation program for the sisterhood. Novices cleaned and polished the rooms, the antique furniture, the gorgeous parquet floors. Novices worked in the garden, picked raspberries, weeded, cared for the formal octagon garden full of roses and hollyhocks. Some groups of novices trained the early sixties before the highway and remember the black walnut grove, now gone. None of the women who trained there can every forget the beauty of the house, the marble fireplaces, round glass doorknobs on magnificent doors, high windows, and the kitchen herb garden outside the pantry. Novices helped build the garage, well before the new building was erected. In their long black habits, they skated on the frozen lake, and occasionally in summer, swam in the lake, followed the cows that wandered across the fields on the far side of the lake and gathered autumn leaves or Christmas greens to decorate the main dining room for the elderly sisters. For those individuals who spent a year or two in training, the location and atmosphere of Villa Madonna has left an indelible impression to this day.
I dont like the new lighted sign they got out front by the drive way. It looks like there should be a quickie mart and gas station down the drive way with that sign.
I live on Puffer Road and would like to post photos of the Chapel. I walk there often. It is beautiful. People are wondering if it is still there. It is!
Just for clarification: Rutherfurd is spelled "FURD"
Lets not make the mistake that the current Rutherford, NJ made. Somewhere along the line the name was mis-spelled and it stuck.
Look at what happened to Rutherfurd Road off of route 517 which runs behind 7-11. The street sign went missing and the road dept replaced it....with Rutherford.
What a mistake.
Can we walk around the chapel and take pictures on puffer road? I've had friends get hassled by the cops, and that's the last thing I want. I really just find the place beautiful and want to take pictures for my own private enjoyment. Paula maybe you could email me, we can set something up, and I can walk with you to take some pictures? Thanks everyone!
The mansion overlooking PV on 25 Rutherford Road is currently listed for $3.7 million. Does anyone know who previously owned it?
My fiancee and I discovered the Chapel last year and instantly fell in LOVE with it.
We are getting married this summer, and, through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend, actually got permission to get married there!! (We also got a tour of the adjoining family home. It was such a special treat!)
Unfortunately, the repairs that they wanted us to perform in exchange for using it outweighed the use of the Chapel and we chose a diffent venue.
I will be in love with it forever though.
They do not like the public sniffing around up there. It is private property, family owned and very cherished, and they are very diligent in protecting it.
My husband, Joseph Laurora, MD, was given a stuffed tiger head from one of the Rutherfurd homes, probably in the mid 70's. He had it refurbished, and sometime in the 1990's it was given to Hackettstown High School - their football team mascot was a tiger. We found out later that it was removed because it wasn't 'socially acceptable'.
Carroll Mercer (father of Lucy Mercer) was a member of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Could this tiger head be another connection between the Roosevelt and Mercer families?
I came across some pictures of the tiger head while looking at old albums last week.
I have spent many happy times at villa Madonna. Had a aunt sr Dorothy that retired there.she was a nun for over 60 yrs . used to love to go to the fairs they had. Sr.dorothy had 2. Stain glass windows put in the chapel in memory of her parents. Her funeral was held there. Glad to know the chapel is still there.
I grew up in allamuchy we lived in the old white house on the hill were the shell is today the hunt girls snooks an many others went to the nuns garage sale every year an fished in the lake camped in the old log cabin in the woods above 517 watching the round track driver fix his car talked to Mr an Mrs lapresly who owned the liquor store helped me sheets on the farm we moved in the late 79 when my father had a massive heart attack I still have family. Up there in hacketstown nj tynans garage my cousins great memories live in the south now
I was five years old when my family emigrated to the U.S from Austria in 1952 We were sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Charity of Allamuchy Township in New Jersey. The nuns needed a grounds keeper and handyman, and my father got the job. I never knew it as Rutherford Hall but only as Villa Madonna convent where the Sisters lived. I loved the years that I spent there. I still remember the rolling hills and orchards where I wandered with the nuns' collie Brownie. I was the only child there and Brownie was my playmate. My father taught me how to fish on the lake . I remember there were eels. I called them water snakes. When I was old enough to attend school my parents sent me to St. Joseph Hill Academy in Staten Island, New York, which was run by the same group of nuns. We moved to Long Island three years later and I never saw the convent and grounds again, but I will never forget my experience there.
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