Located on 1,300 acres “…on a broad sloping hillside off U.S. Route 209…” around four miles south of Milford is the Zimmermann Farm Complex, according to the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the application paperwork, submitted by Wayne K. Bodle on April 22, 1977, the farm overlooks “…a broad, sweeping curve in the Delaware River, which lies below it, and a panorama of rural New Jersey beyond the river.”
This complex has a large main house made of stone, two large farm barns, a smaller farm house and multiple outbuildings.
The Register notes the main home was constructed around 1910, and “…is a large, 2 1/2 story stone house with a gambrel roof, flared eaves, a large, shallow dormer in the front and three small curved windows peeking out from the roof in the upper 1/2 story above the main dormer.”
In the rear portion, located perpendicular to the main section, is a two story wing. This is also made of cut fieldstones, “…with a steep gabled roof with slightly flared eaves.”
Large dormers are also found in both eaves of this section. The intersection of these two wings forms “…a round, two-story tower.” The main house also boasts three large stone chimney’s, “…one in either end of the main wing, and one in the rear gable of the smaller wing.”
Found around a half-mile from the house is a large dairy barn. It sits “…along a straight formal lane, lined with tall trees…” and dates from approximately the same period as the main house.
The upright “…spar wooden structure…” is built into a hillside, “…with an overhang on the downhill side.”
The register stated it is “…adorned by a frilled cupola in the center of the roof…”
On one end, a large fieldstone workshop can be found, with a wagon shed on the opposite side.
In the rear of the building, a large wooden silo can be found.
A smaller frame barn, along with “…an undistinguished frame house of more recent construction (c. 1920s)” that is believed to have functioned as a tenant house.
The application notes this structure is “…visually incompatible with the cohesiveness of the rest of the structures…” and “…constitutes an intrusive element to the integrity of the complex.”
The Zimmermann Farm Complex “…represents the best example of the relatively late arrival in the Upper Delaware Valley of inhabitants whose purpose was neither primarily agricultural, nor oriented to the newer commercial possibilities of the blossoming tourist and vacation industry,” the Register explains.
The Zimmermanns “…saw in the region a pleasant place to live the comfortable lives their affluence afforded them.”
This expansive estate was built on a tract purchased “…in the 1870’s from Daniel Ennis Van Etten, a descendant of one of the oldest families in the area.”
The application states this property initially functioned as “…a vacation retreat for the more than thirty years between that date and the erection of a permanent residence.”
When the Zimmermanns built their home, “…theirs was not typical of the farm houses of the area, except perhaps in a few accidental details…”
The structure was “…the eclectic product of an attempt … to create an estate in the romantic image.”
An unnamed local historic architect stated “…it has many oddly conflicted lines and planes, and while being vaguely suggestive of a translation into masonry of the shingle style of the 1880s and reminiscent of the French Provincial style, it fails to achieve a true architectural integrity.
“Despite this fault, the house has many attractive features.”
The structure functions as an architectural document that acts to highlight the “…significant social elements which went into its creation – rather than as a pure type of any particular style or technique…” that makes this complex significant.
Associated with this farm is jewelry maker and metal worker Marie Zimmerman.
The Brooklyn-raised woman studied at Pratt institute, and earned national recognition for her work between 1900-1940.
To learn more about this remarkable woman’s life, visit www.friendsofmariezimmermann.org.
To explore more properites on the National Historic Register, visit www.nps.gov.