Your immediate plans may not include a visit to Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., but there is a home there in need of your help.
The Hermitage, at 335 Franklin Turnpike there, is known to history buffs as the one-time home of Aaron Burr, following his courtship and subsequent marriage in 1782 to Theodosia Provost, a widow. George Washington, Lafayette and Mrs. Benedict Arnold are also known to have visited here.
The date of The Hermitage's construction is not known, but Washington's visit was in 1778. Some of the structure as seen today dates from a later period. The rear wing, of rough fieldstone, was erected a century ago.
The Hermitage's styling is English Gothic. Built of cut red sandstone with a steep, pitched roof, many of its windows - including the dormers - have panes of diamond-shaped glass. There are heavy projecting eaves. The Hermitage has an unusual background, particularly in this century. It was acquired in 1807 by Dr. Elijah Rosencrantz and was still owned by his descendants in 1970. Mary Elizabeth Rosencrantz, who died at that time, had refused many lucrative offers from developers for her several acres of land and her mansion in the heart of the New Jersey township.
This was the more remarkable because of years she was in sore financial straits. Yet on her death in abject poverty, it was found that she had willed her historic heritage to the state of New Jersey. Several years' vacancy brought appalling vandalism, but an organization known as the Friends of The Hermitage is setting matters to rights.
The mansion has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and completed restoration is in progress. Substantial sums, however, are needed to bring it back to its former glory.
James C. Wilfong is interested in architecture.