May 2019: Historic houses tours are not available Wednesday, May 8; Wednesday, May 15; Saturday, May 18; or Wednesday, May 29.
The Old Dutch Parsonage was constructed in 1751 with funds from three Dutch Reformed Church
congregations of the Raritan Valley. This two and one half story brick Georgian building was first occupied by the Reverend Mr. John Frelinghuysen and his family. While Frelinghuysen served
the three congregations, he also tutored several young men in his home, preparing them for the seminary.
John Frelinghuysen died in 1754 leaving behind his wife, Dinah, and two children, Frederick and Eva.
He was succeeded by the Reverend Mr. Jacob Hardenbergh, one of the young men whom he had once tutored.
Unlike his predecessor, Jacob Hardenbergh did not tutor students in his home. He was, however, interested in education. In 1766, Hardenbergh drafted, circulated, and submitted a petition to the Royal Government to establish a new "classical and divinity" school in the Colony of New Jersey. As a
result of his efforts, Queen's College was chartered in the same year.
In 1785, Jacob Hardenbergh became the first President of Queen's College, known today as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Jacob Hardenbergh also played an important role during the American Revolution. A supporter of the
American cause, he served in the Provincial Congress of New Jersey.
While the Continental Army was encamped in the Watchung Mountains during the winter of 1778-79,
Hardenbergh became friendly with General Washington. Jacob Hardenbergh helped ease tensions between the army and local residents who, although supportive of independence, were greatly inconvenienced by the troops' presence.
In 1781, Jacob Hardenbergh left Somerville to take a position in New York. The Dutch Parsonage remained a pastor's residence until 1810, when the church sold the building to Dr. Peter Stryker, a prominent local physician. In 1836, Stryker sold the house to the Doughty family.
The Doughtys owned the house until 1907, when they sold it to the Central Railroad of New Jersey.
The railroad purchased the property to make improvements to the railroad right-of-way and slated the house for demolition. Fortunately, the Parsonage was saved by interested persons who moved it to its
present location in 1913. The State of New Jersey acquired the property in 1947.