Status: Progress Made
2008: The Historical Society of the Rockaways has spent about $140,000 raised from local and county sources on restoration work including bringing the east wing to its original height and dimensions after lowering the roof and shedding later additions and uncovering exterior wood trim paint color. Work will continue on the house and will be eventually used as the historical society’s office and museum.
07/2010: The Rockaway Township has received a grant of $300,000 from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund. This grant will pay for the restoration of the door and window openings and replacement of the windows on the front elevation, repairing the ceiling and flooring in the kitchen, and replacing the flooring in the master bedroom.
07/2011: Rockaway Township has received an additional grant from the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund, this time in the amount of $241, 830. The grant will assist with exterior restoration of the house, including the installation of period windows and doors, repointing, and roof repairs.
This three-story Georgian stone house, constructed c.1770, is a reminder of Morris County’s eighteenth-century iron industry. It was home to John Jacob Faesch, a Swiss-born iron master whose Mt. Hope Ironworks provided much ammunition and ordnance to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The building’s porch, eave decoration, and a bay window were added in the late nineteenth century.
When Empire Steel and Iron Company tried to revive the Mt. Hope Ironworks at the turn of the twentieth century, the house became a miners’ boarding house, and later it was a residence of supervisors. Rockaway Township acquired the property in 1982 – it had been vacant for eight years – but have accomplished little restoration beyond a new roof, some structural stabilization, and preliminary archaeological investigation.
The threat to this meaningful eighteenth-century building comes primarily from a lack of resources for its rehabilitation. As part of the Mount Hope Mining District the house, which is open for tours and events, was designated one of the most endangered sites in Morris County last year.
Its support reflects both the property’s importance and the precariousness of its situation. The fourth-grade students of Rockaway Township visit the Ford-Faesch Manor each year when they study the local iron industry; it was they who brought it to the attention of PNJ. If the Rockaway Township community summons the will, it can find a way to restore this important house, preserve its place in our collective memory, and keep it available for fourth graders (and others) to connect with the past when they visit.
Historic Society of Rockaway Township
P.O. Box 100
Hibernia, NJ 07842