About This Year's Tour Homes
This year’s theme –– Country Living –– celebrates the rural, agricultural heritage of today’s suburban community.
ORCHARD VIEW FARM
24 Carson Road
Residence of John and Lori Marshall
The graciousness of another era fills this charmingly authentic center-hall colonial residence beautifully set within 6.9 park-like acres. The warmth of lovely old pine floors, fireplaces, bay windows, classic touches such as crown moldings, and many other period details add up to the special ambiance of a cherished antique home. Enjoy its four ample bedrooms, two full and one half baths, and separate heated studio.
When John and Lori Marshall moved in 14 years ago, they wanted to keep the charm of this old house yet make it livable for a growing family in a modern world. Some walls were pushed out, small staircases rerouted, and closets formed. The successful completion of this transformation gave them a warm and comfortable home with a state-of-the-art kitchen, laundry area, and fresh new bathrooms. The 19th century addition houses the lovely entrance hall, living rooms, library, and some of the upstairs bedrooms.
When you enter the dining room in the old section, you get a sense of history as you notice the lower ceilings and ancient fireplace where family food was once prepared. The remains of a long-ago house fire are evident on the charred lintel of the fireplace.
Some original outbuildings and the remains of a stone foundation to a 100-foot barn add interest to the property. The Marshalls are making full use of their country location with a flock of chickens and a small herd of alpacas that enjoy their days in the fields nearby.
JOSEPH PIERSON HOUSE
210 Cold Soil Road
Residence of Janet and Frank Hautau
In 1962, Janet Hautau became the fourth owner of the Pierson House, which was built in four sections between 1720 and 1860. The early sections contain mortar of mud mixed with lime and horsehair, standard at that time. Today the house stands as a striking example of an eighteenth century farmhouse.
The house shows many indications of its age. Stones used in the walls are random in size and shape, both inside and out. The floor of the early section was laid on rough oak logs resting on stones to raise the logs above the dirt. The ceiling is quite low. Upper sashes are fixed. Window sills in the second story are pegged at the corners.
Hand-split lath was found in the ceilings of the upper story of the second section. Many hand-forged nails were used. Walls are about 30” thick, and windows are irregularly placed. The house throughout has the fascination of an irregular arrangement of walls, rooms, floor levels, and ceiling heights.
Unique features include original floors, a warming closet in the keeping room, tiles from Mercer Tile Works in Doylestown, PA depicting the crafts of Pennsylvania, and a kitchen beam, found in the backyard, originally part of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville. Also, every downstairs room has a door to the outside. Civil War-era letters found in the attic date between 1841 and 1869.
According to lore, there are two beliefs about the house. One is of a Hessian soldier shot and killed by the colonial militia in a bedroom closet. The other, which has not been authenticated, is that silverware was buried on the property to hide it from the ransacking British. The house is also believed to be one of three local stops on the Underground Railroad.
3071 Lawrenceville Road
Residence of Diane and Leon Rosenberg
For the past fifteen years, Meadowgate Farm has been home to Diane and Leon Rosenberg and their herd of fascinating huacaya and suri alpacas. Drive up the long driveway to the Rosenberg’s 1820 farmhouse, relocated about 100 years ago from its original site closer to Route 206. The house and barns sit on 20 acres of lush pastureland complete with a pond, stream and woods.
The home’s entrance hall (originally the kitchen) and dining room are the oldest sections of the structure, which was expanded multiple times over the years. The Rosenbergs have filled their entire home with antique furniture, rugs, and artwork from their travels around the world. The mix is often eclectic. For example, a contemporary, ceramic vessel by sculptor Gretchen Ewert depicting leopards riding antelopes sits atop a Revolutionary War-era table in the entry.
Throughout the home, architectural details and richly diverse construction materials are a feast for the eyes. Rustic beams define the foyer. French doors and expansive windows afford stunning views of the meadow. In the family room, a slab of limestone forms the mantel of the fireplace. Kitchen counters are made of rare French blue limestone and granite; floors are pillowed limestone. The peacock blue mudroom has been “painted” with hot wax.
Meadowgate’s 120 alpacas are housed in two barns, one an early 19th century structure that once stood on a farm in Pennsylvania. The Rosenbergs bought the hand-hewn beams and hired architect Marc Brahaney to reassemble the skeleton and design space for their alpacas, their business office, and an apartment for farm workers.
3031 Lawrenceville Road
Residence of Jean-Baptiste and Catrina L. Boisson
This striking 30-year-old contemporary house is situated at a dramatic height above Route 206, affording a glorious view of miles of fields and farmland.
Jean-Baptiste (JB) and Catrina Boisson and their two children have lived in their spacious home for nearly twelve years, turning it into an airy, light-filled showcase for JB’s woodworking and decorating talents. Outdoors, Catrina’s gardening skills add beauty all around.
JB built the striking oak fireplace mantel featured in the dining room and a most unusual table out of a Scotch pine tree for the kitchen. Large windows in each room offer lovely views of the two and a half-acre property that includes sweeping lawns, a bocce court, and extensive gardens. The kitchen walls are decorated with an eye-catching assortment of antique farm implements; the dramatic two-story central hall is whimsically adorned with a collection of antique electric fans. In the living room, note the stunning art deco bar purchased from a Brooklyn antiques shop.
While the tranquil master bedroom is furnished simply, the children’s bedrooms and playrooms feature hand-painted skyscapes on the ceilings and brilliant-colored walls covered with charming prints and posters. The finished basement level contains another playroom full of construction toys, a large sewing table, and a beautifully furnished guest room. The stairwell is home to a charming collection of bird nests found on the property.
Throughout the house, there are many items that reflect JB’s French heritage, including old family photographs, prints, maps of his village, and faience pieces from Brittany.
WILLOW GATE FARM
4370 Province Line Road
Residence of Erik Jan and Deborah Walson
This lovely, three-story, stone house, whose earliest sections date to 1750, was first owned by Judge Theophilus Phillips II, son of the “Father of Maidenhead,” now known as Lawrenceville. After many years of neglect, Marguerite Bush Champion, a descendant of the original owner, renovated the home in 1917 and documented the work in great detail.
Current owners Erik Jan and Deborah Walson, who bought the property in 1999, have continued this systematic restoration. Mrs. Walson, a designer, has worked closely with artist/designer Terry Comella. Comella’s wonderful series of murals and wall paintings enhance the character and warmth of the home.
The dining room is the earliest section of the house, believed to have comprised two side-by-side rooms or one large open room. The formal living room was added about 50 years later. Today, the Walson family spends much of their time in the light-filled den and adjacent garden room. Note the bamboo ceiling and stone floor. From the kitchen with its whimsical black and white tile, you can peer into the pet room, home to a Leonberger named Chester, a Stabyhoun called Tobe, a parrot known as Poncho, and guinea pigs Bella and Ginger.
Visitors are welcome to explore the halls, bedrooms, and bathrooms on the second and third floors. The floor cloth on the upper level, typical of houses of the 18th century, was painted by Terry Comella. The large and cozy home theater has evolved from a billiards room, servants’ quarters, home office, and model train room.
EZEKIEL SMITH HOUSE
974 Mercer Street
Residence of Marcia and Bruce Willsie
Built in the early 1700s, this house was part of the early Quaker settlement of Stony Brook, located between Lawrenceville and Princeton. John Houghton built the original structure, which comprised a one-room first story with a narrow staircase leading to a small second floor for sleeping and storage. The first floor (now the dining room) contained a large cooking fireplace and a beehive oven, still discernible today.
Ezekiel Smith enlarged the farmhouse in the 1730s to include a side hall with two parlors (one now a library), four fireplaces, Delaware Valley paneling, and a corner cupboard. A succession of owners named Ezekiel Smith farmed the 200-acre property until 1826.
For the next 125 years, the home had a series of colorful owners including the popular Dr. Woodhull (who ran a clinic in what is now the 19th century Greek Revival living room), Colonel David McDaniel (a litigious character who operated a stud farm), and Paul Tulane (the namesake of Tulane University who won the property from McDaniel).
An elderly visitor recently described her mother’s childhood in the house, where Walter Scott Lenox, the founder of Lenox China, recuperated from a broken leg, and where an indentured servant roomed in the pantry.
In 1999, Bruce and Marcia Willsie bought the house and 3.5 acres from the Bowers and engaged Princeton architect T. Jeffery Clarke to lead the 18-month restoration project, which received the Historical Society of Princeton Preservation Award of 2001.
Marcia, a trained chef, has conducted cooking class dinner parties at the farmhouse and hopes to do so again this year. She named her school Ezekiel’s Table after the previous owners who captured her imagination.
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