Hermitage Tunnel

Not too far from the Hermitage (a very old and historic house in northern NJ) is what appears to be a tunnel built into the side of a hill, which is supposed to go right to the Hermitage. Its purpose, according to who you talk to, ranged from a Revolutionary escape tunnel to one of the stops along the Underground Railroad.

We took a tour of the Hermitage and found out the truth; the ‘tunnel’ was simply what they used to get water to the house in the 1700’s & 1800’s. The guide, who was very good by the way, didn’t completely denounce the tales though. “It could’ve very well been used in the Underground Railroad, you never know.” But the Revolutionary escape tunnel is unlikely. The original owner’s wife invited Washington to spend the night so he wouldn’t seize the property, since the owner was fighting on the British side.

Author: Stu

3 thoughts on “Hermitage Tunnel

  1. That tunnel you are looking at, was used for draining water from the other side of the tracks, I played there in my child hood days, there ‘sheen a lot of story’s, made up about that place,and they are just a lot of bull crap ? I have tried manny times to cross over to the other side when I was a kid, at that time, they used to say it was a dung gin,have a nice day?

  2. I attended grade school at St. Luke’s across the street from the Hermitage. We were always told that Aaron Burr was married there. Can that be true?

  3. I grew up there in the 60s. We were all told “It’s dangerous. Don’t go in.” Then a local paper ran an article on it. The article quoted an old man who went in as a boy and said he found a door to a room off one side with a rope handle. They speculated about its use in the Underground Railroad. I can’t recall if the article author went in, but I imagine he or she did and did not confirm the report. I decided to explore for myself. I grab a flashlight and a few friends for courage. We went inside but didn’t find anything. We were probably 8-10 years old. In hindsight the water idea makes some sense. The railroad was placed between the house and the Ho-Ho-Kus brook, although a well would seem more practical. In order to divert brook water to the house the Coles pond dam would have had to be several feet higher or the tunnel excavated below the current 2-3 feet for gravity to allow water to flow toward the house. Town records for the dam and railroad may offer some insight. The stones used to build the tunnel were consistent with those used to build bridges and tunnels along the railroad. It may have been an accommodation by the railroad to the occupants of the house at the time.

    As for Aaron Burr, I’d appreciate insight there as well. A quick search says he married Theodosia Bartow Prevost by the pastor of the old Paramus church, Rev. Benjamin Van Der Linde. It was either Albany or “Paramus”. Theodosia was a widow with 5 children who lived in a place called “ The Hermitage” in “Paramus”. I suspect it is the same location as the hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus. The church is just a couple miles away.

    With a little digging you will find the current hermitage was build by the Rosencrantz family in the early 1800s and stayed in the family until donated in 1971. However, I speculate they built the current version where the older Hermitage owned by Theodosia Prevost was located. After her marriage she went with Burr to Albany, Manhattan and probably other places. It would be very interesting if someone could do some serious research and piece it together. I don’t live in the area, but who knows…. I’m retired.

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