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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2004

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994
Dana Loschiavo
(609) 984-1423

DEP Officially Reopens Rockingham
Washington's last military headquarters during the American Revolutionary War

(04/75) KINGSTON -- As America prepares to celebrate its 228th birthday, DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today officially reopened Rockingham, a significant landmark in our nation's struggle for independence. Campbell also announced that the Governor's recently passed budget provides an additional $500,000 toward its continued preservation.

"It is a thrill to welcome visitors back to Rockingham to experience a piece of our colonial past. This outstanding restoration reflects Governor McGreevey's commitment to preserving New Jersey's historic sites," Campbell said.

The $500,000 will be used to renovate existing outbuildings for a visitor's center, as well as the construction of additional fencing, landscaping, lighting and public restrooms. The projects will start later this year.

The mansion has been closed to the public since July 2001, while undergoing a $1.8 million state funded restoration, which returned the site to the days when George Washington resided there in 1783.

The nearly 300-year-old house and several outbuildings were moved closer to its original site in July 2001 to accommodate its restoration and increased visitation. The extensive restoration of the house includes the reconstruction of a new kitchen wing, installation of new utilities and a geothermal heating and air conditioning system to help preserve the vast collection of colonial period items. Following a technologically advanced paint analysis, the mansion was also painted a new color true to its likeness in the 18th century.

Development of the site incorporates the addition of a remote parking lot, a pedestrian bridge and fencing, as well as walkways to the canal towpath and the house.

The Rockingham Association, a non-profit organization dedicated solely to the preservation of Rockingham, remains a strong partner with the state in the development of several projects for the site, including acquisition materials and construction of the historic fencing, and sponsoring special events, programs and research.

The site also features a new garden recreated by the Stony Brook Garden Club, which spent years researching the appropriate plantings, tracking seed sources and cultivating the plants. The garden offers an abundance of fresh herbs, flowers, and vegetables that Washington would have enjoyed while living there.

Rockingham will begin its new hours for guided tours and programs for the public beginning July 2. On Wednesday through Saturday, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. On Sunday, the site will be open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The site is closed on official holidays, including the 4th and 5th of July this year.

Listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, it was at Rockingham that General George Washington wrote his Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States, making it the last military headquarters during the American Revolutionary War. Washington and his wife Martha lived at Rockingham from August 23 to November 10, 1783.

Rockingham is believed to be the second oldest house in the Millstone River Valley, dating somewhere between 1702 and 1710.

John Berrien, a wealthy farmer and merchant who would later become a New Jersey Supreme Court Justice, purchased the house in the 1730's and made several additions to the original structure. He called his plantation Rockingham, possibly after the Marquis of Rockingham.

 

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