Van Veghten House
9 Van Veghten Drive
Bridgewater, NJ 08907
A National and State Historic Site, the Van Veghten House was built as a one-story brick farmhouse around 1720, by a second generation Dutch immigrant, Michael Van Veghten (sometimes spelled Van Vechten) from New York State. His son Derrick later enlarged it to two stories. The original farm was more than 850 acres. Parts of the acreage have been farmed for 3 centuries up to and including the mid 20th century! The property has several stories from the Colonial period including kidnapping by the British (1777); sheltering Quartermaster General Nathaniel Greene’s and his wife, “Kitty,” during the Second Middlebrook Encampment (1778); dancing with General Washington (1779), suffering a raid by John Simcoe and his troops ( which resulted in the burning of the Dutch Reformed Church the Van Veghten’s had built just across Finderne Ave.) and viewing General Rochambeau’s French troops as they marched by on the way to Yorktown, Va.(1781).
The current one acre lot is owned by the Somerset County Historical Society, which was founded in 1882. The building houses, a research library, a genealogical library, collection of Somerset County artifacts, and two museum rooms of early tools. As a result of the coronavirus changes visitation is by appointment only. See the website for details.
Unfortunately, the house and lot are surrounded to the north and east by an industrial park, so finding the building is quite an adventure. You can’t see it from County road 533, Finderne Avenue. It’s sometimes noisy because of the trucks in the industrial park, but, luckily to the south and west of the house is the Raritan River and its flood plain (once meadows for the farm.) That area is now an Army Corp of Engineers Wetlands Mitigation Project and has a number of trails for hiking and observing the wildlife. Photographers frequently visit to check out the birds. The Society runs walking tours there several times a year. (Check the website for scheduled dates.) There is a geocache in the yard, a lovely view of the Raritan River, and frequently a breeze to rustle the leaves of the shade trees.
Barely a mile away to the south is downtown Manville, with numerous restaurants and several beautiful churches. Several miles to the northwest is downtown Somerville, the county seat.
For more about the house, its occupants, five centuries of stories, and The Society’s programming, please see www.somersethistorynj.org or follow us at the Somerset County Historical Society (NJ) Facebook page.