The Bohemian Quartet – July 25, 2015

Rams_BarnConcertThe exciting premiere of the Ramsaysburg Homestead Historic Site’s Summer Concerts in the Barn series took place Saturday, July 25th. The unique barn concert featured The Bohemian Quartet, a group that was founded by violinist Agnes Kwasniewska. The ensemble has performed at many different New York and New Jersey venues, but this is the first time the group had performed in a barn setting.

The acoustics of the barn were superb in amplifying the American premiere of Saturnalia Strings, composed by Maestro Robert W. Butts, an important New Jersey composer and conductor of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey. The barn seating was at full capacity to enjoy the quartet’s performances of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Dvorak. The evening’s program ended on a rousing note with a medley of selections from Frederic Loewe’s My Fair Lady.

Several guests took advantage of the beautiful summer night and were seated on the lawn outside the barn. Intermission offered a time for all to mingle and sample the homemade iced tea and other refreshments. Guests also brought picnic suppers in the tradition of Tanglewood.

The event was supported, in part, by a grant from the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

Please join your friends and neighbors for the next Summer Concert in the Barn that will be held on Saturday, September 26th. It will feature jazz ensemble The Gary Staples Quartet.

For more information: 908-475-5352.

Planning Process

Following completion of the Historic Structures Report for Ramsaysburg Homestead, the next step was to undertake strategic planning for use and interpretation of the site. For this purpose, the Knowlton Township Historic Commission engaged the services of consultant Linda B. McTeague, and recruited a twelve-member Strategic Planning Committee comprised of representatives from the Knowlton Township Historic Commission, the Knowlton Township Environmental Commission, the Township Committee and interested citizens of Knowlton Township and surrounding communities.
The three-part plan was to include the following:

  • Historical Interpretation: To present site-related, interpretive experiences and resources that increase knowledge of regional historic contexts and themes; provide a cultural center that will foster appreciation of that history; and create linkages to related sites and resources that will help the public make connections to the past.
  • Recreation and the Environment: To foster awareness, appreciation and stewardship of the natural and built environments at Ramsaysburg Homestead through educational programs and passive, low-impact outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • The Arts: To create a venue for artistic expression and appreciation of the arts, provide a regional cultural resource that is compatible with the historic and rural character of Ramsaysburg Homestead, and enhance the site’s attributes for visitors.

Ramsaysburg Restoration

Green Acres acquired the Ramsaysburg property in 2000 to become a part of the Beaver Brook Wildlife Management area. But the Department of Environmental Protection was unable to maintain or protect any of the structures of the hamlet. The Knowlton Township Historic Commission worked with the Township of Knowlton to arrange a lease of the property from the DEP.
Saving Ramsaysburg required state, county and local funding to stabilize the buildings, as well as extensive research to support listing the site on the New Jersey and the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2002, the Knowlton Township Historic Commission has applied for and received grants from the Warren County Cultural & Heritage Commission, Warren County Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund, Delaware River Greenway Partnership, Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund/New Jersey Historic Trust, and the National Park Service/Martins Jacoby Watershed Association.

Two Centuries

Rams_HistoricMapCatering to both road and river traffic and commerce, the tavern and about 50 acres along the Delaware River in newly-formed Knowlton Township appealed to brothers James and Adam Ramsay in 1795. The prime location, complete with a tributary cascading from the mountains into the Delaware River, held unlimited potential. As James became a prominent political figure, serving as County Freeholder as well as on the Knowlton Township Committee, the hamlet of Ramsaysburg, solely owned by James since 1801, prospered.
A Post Office was established in 1827, followed by the tavern, a store, an Episcopal Church and several homes by 1834. Census records show an extended Ramsay family living at the homestead site, along with several tenant families. A hotel was shown as operating at the site in 1852, and the “Ramsay and Swayze” lumberyard, complete with a sawmill, was advertised in local newspapers as early as 1850. A blacksmith shop was also located on the Ramsay property.

The Springbrook Inn was one of many luxurious tourist accommodations

The Springbrook Inn was one of many luxurious tourist accommodations

The Ramsay family heirs retained ownership of the entire property until 1885, when a portion was sold. The remainder was lost in a court-ordered sale in 1950. Both portions apparently became owned or managed Myron Gilbert, who successfully ran the Spring Brook Farm Hotel resort, begun by a previous owner in 1901, after the sale of the first portion of the Ramsaysburg property. Gilbert is said to have run the resort for many years. The hotel, along with some of its original property, was sold in 1987 to new owners, whose plans to open a bed-and-breakfast there were dashed when the building was destroyed by a 1997 fire.