The following are recollections of Carol Sullivan from the 1970s about the Roseberry-Gess House. She was obviously deeply involved in the effort to preserve the place. She appended several old newspaper clippings to her e-mail which we’ll eventually post here.
About the Stenciled walls
Walter Gess was the last private owner of the property. After selling it to the school board, Gess and his wife moved to the Midwest. I was in touch with him in the effort to gain his support in saving the property from demolition. He had patterns of the hand painted stencils that are on the walls of the center hallway and also on the wall in the room adjacent to the center hall. If I’m not mistaken, he sent copies of these patterns to the Society.
The floor in the “Keeping Room”
I also remember that the random width planks that were on the floor of the keeping room were removed by the society when a church that was being demolished offered to donate the floors in the church. They were older & more in keeping with the Roseberry House. The existing floors were not original to the house. I don’t recall what happened to the planks that Gess installed in the room.
The Dining Room Restoration Project
The woodwork in the room that we finished (just off the keeping room) was reproduction woodwork which was purchased from Eisenhardt Lumber in Easton. The pewter chandelair in the room was specially made and was an authentic reproduction.
We also had a fund raiser and purchased the wooden shingles that are on the keeping room.
The Front Porch
It was I and my two daughters and a few other kids that removed the roof that spanned the front of the main house. The volunteer architect, Robert Butow, from Easton determined that it was not original to the house.
The Loft and the surprise(d) visitor
I, along with students from the Special Ed class at PBurg High, removed the plaster from the ceiling of the loft above the keeping room. While in the process, filthy, covered with years of dust and dirt, I heard a knock on the door. I had invited the former Governor Meyner of NJ, whose wife was the State Bicentennial chairperson, to visit the house. The letter that he sent notifying that he accepted the invitation and announcing a date of his visit, never got to me.
There stood this important visitor at the front door, shocked at seeing this dirty, tom boy of a woman, standing there! No formal reception, no newspaper story! Not even a nice cup of tea!!! Pretty embarrassing!!! The PR opportunity was lost!
I hope my recollections of 40 years ago will be useful to you….