Rockingham Historic Site will be closed Friday, January 16 and Saturday, January 17, 2015.
Rockingham is believed to be the second oldest house in the Millstone River valley, its original construction dating between 1702 and 1710. Jedidiah Higgins, one of the earliest settlers in the Rocky Hill-Kingston area, is credited with building the house.
New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Berrien purchased the property in the 1730s. It was during his ownership that Rockingham reached its full potential as a "fine and healthy farm." In 1764, Berrien enlarged the house, added a kitchen wing (no longer extant) and embellished the interior of the house with architectural woodwork. Upon his death in 1772, the property passed to his wife, Margaret.
In 1783, Rockingham became significant as General George Washington's final military headquarters. Mrs. Berrien had put the property up for sale, but when presented with the opportunity to rent to General Washington, she accepted.
Mrs. Berrien sold the house to Frederick Cruser in 1802. The Crusers remained in the house until 1841, during which time the house underwent renovations, including the addition of a front porch. The property changed hands several times, and by the middle of the 1890s the Rocky Hill Quarry Company owned Rockingham and used it as quarters for quarry workers.
In 1896, two local residents organized the Washington Headquarters Association. The Association, which purchased the house from the quarry for $1200, and the adjoining land for $1, moved the house farther away from the quarry to protect it. The Association's goal was to restore the house and furnish it with donated items that may have belonged to the Washington or Berrien
The State of New Jersey acquired the property in 1935 and in 1956, moved the house even further from the advancing quarry. On July 20, 2001, the house was moved a third time to its current location.
Rockingham's primary period of significance is 1783 - 1802, spanning the era from George Washington's residency at the end of the Revolutionary War to the acquisition of the property by the Cruser family in 1802.
This period exemplifies both the early years of the new nation as well as the general social, economic and cultural revolutions of Central New Jersey's Millstone River valley. It takes into account the most important surviving elements of the main farmhouse, addresses the process of change over time, and allows for the most flexible use of the current site.