I drive along Route 31 in Hunterdon County often, daily, in fact, for many years now. Never have I noticed a spring house or any historic outbuilding along the highway. This weekend, however, my husband pointed one out to me! And several other buildings as well. I pulled up to the spot as close as I could, jumped out to take a good peak, and yes indeed! Prospects for the spring house or other historic outbuilding looked promising.
What a surprise, to say the least! Since we have gotten a reprieve from the freezing cold, I grabbed my camera during lunch and tracked through the brush and trees to get a few good shots of my stone outbuilding. Here are several views, showing how it is built into the side of a hill near a stream. This looks to be a very good location for a spring house but this is quite large – and perhaps was the original home. From its placement into the hill, it could have been a root cellar, well protected from the elements. It is very hard to see from the road. Below is a view of the back of the house.
This structure is in fair condition – fairly large. Roofing is intact but needs some help. As you can see, there is no chimney or flue of any kind and some of the stone has been pushed in along the back wall.
On one of the short sides, there is a large vent. There are markings that show the location of another shorter structure outlined on the side with the vent. This structure may require some additional research.
The opposite short side is shown below. The short sides are about 12 feet long.
This outbuilding has two doors on the front of the structure. I just learned the name of the prior property owners and will do some research at the historical societies and the hall of records.
I suspect that this is a spring house from the interior of the two compartments – one is lower and very wet and the other is higher and dry. The wet half is the spring house and perhaps the second dry compartment was for making butter and cheese. There is a well on the outside of the springhouse. The well is covered now but was likely enclosed by the missing section outlined on one of the outer walls.
The two compartments of the spring house are shown below. The work shop for butter and cheese making is damaged. We can see the wet bottom of the springhouse section.
This stone building isn’t the only historical outbuilding on this property. There is a small barn/shed and a corn crib. Each is in good condition and we see foundations of stone.
The barn with the white doors does have a cupola better shown below.
And a water pump is shown below.
We seem to be off to a good start in 2019. Perhaps weather permitting, I will be able to photograph a few more priceless historical outbuildings this week.
I have recently learned that this outbuilding/property is included in the Raritan Township Historic Sites Survey prepared for the Committee of Historic Preservation of Raritan Township, dated March, 1987. The stone outbuilding discussed above is thought to be mid-19th century, perhaps a “combination springhouse/smokehouse with two batten-doored, timber-linteled entries and in the north gable end a ventilation slit and wooden-grilled window”. The springhouse/smokehouse is thought to be of particular note with possibly eligibility for national register. At least that was a thinking in 1987. I think we should strive to pursue that thought, even if at the local historical preservation level.
For those of more scholarly interest, this property is Inventory #1021-106.