AKA Timothy Ball House
Now a private residence
425 Ridgewood Ave
Hines: Open all year, noon to 8:45 p.m. If you are a native of this part of New Jersey you doubtless know all about the old Timothy Ball House where once long ago George Washington discovered that his hosts, the Balls, were his cousins. It is one of those half-timber, half-stone houses you find in this vicinity, with a fireplace so large this it is said a horse used to drag great logs through the open door up to the hearth. Lunch 85¢ up. Tea 35¢ up. Dinner $1.00 up.
This building has been standing handsomely since 1743! It is widely recognized as a local landmark and much has been written in recent years to the benefit of preserving its heritage. A very pleasant surprise for me, as too many of the ol' Hines haunts have long vanished. Furthermore, I discovered an excellent blog whose author has beat me to the punch! Please visit local historian Joe B's article that extensively documents this and other 18th century stone houses. I have not been able to find much on the operation of the restaurant Washington Inn, as everyone is so taken (and rightly so) with the extraordinary history of the building. Even Hines makes no mention at all of the quality of food or hosts, or a particular dish he was partial to. But for the early American architecture enthusiast, this is an exciting listing for the sheer amount of information that exists on the structure.
From the Federal Writer's Project (2007) "New Jersey, a Guide to Its Present and Past:"
"Maplewood's most historic spot is the TIMOTHY BALL HOUSE, built in 1743 and excellently preserved. At this two-and-one-half-story Colonial farmhouse of frame and stone, George Washington was a frequent visitor during the Revolution. The commander in chief was related to Timothy on his mother's side. The building was altered in 1772 and again in 1919 when it was opened as Washington Inn [restaurant]. Outside the old house still stands the historic walnut tree to which Washington used to tie his horse."It is easy to confirm that the original house was indeed, built in 1743, as an inscribed stone still exists in the first chimney wall. Another stone dates the addition to the home in 1772 in the second chimney on the opposing end.
In November 2008, the Township of Maplewood published a Historic Preservation Plan documenting the Timothy Ball House and other properties.
It is available in its entirety online here. Some fun facts gleaned from it:
This area of Maplewood was a charming little enclave of families already deeply rooted by 1800. Of additional interest: The Ridgewood Road area of Maplewood was the boyhood home of Asher B. Durand (1796-1886), the famous painter of the Hudson River School of 19th century American art. After a lifetime of painting portraits and Catskill and Adirondack landscapes that made him famous, Durand returned to build his retirement home in Maplewood, where he lived out his years.
The Walnut Tree Hines referred to...
The mature black walnut has long been considered a natural Maplewood landmark. Local legend states that the tree is associated with the age and history of the house. George Washington is said to have hitched his horse to it when visiting the houses’ occupants. At some time in the mid to early 20th century a bronze plaque was affixed to its western side bearing the following words in raised letters:
The Washington Walnut
This tree is supposed to be as old as the Timothy Ball House.
Rev. George W. Clark, Great Grandson of Timothy Ball in “Struggles and Triumphs of a Long Life” Published 1909
"George Washington, during the Revolutionary War, while his headquarters were at Morristown, here visited his relatives, the Balls, both before and after the Battle of Springfield and frequently hitched his horse to a ring which for many years was attached to this tree. This tree was used as a dividing line by the congregations of the Presbyterian churches of Orange and Springfield, it being approximately three miles from each church. Those on the south side were expected to go to Springfield and those on the north side to the Orange Church.”
The New York Times has archived an interesting article regarding the sale of the property in 1919. Apparently written by one of the original family's descendants, it discloses a rich and varied cache of information about Washington's movements in the area during the Revolutionary War, the Ball family, and early 20th century improvements to the area. (The link leads to a preview & PDF.)
Durand–Hedden House & Garden organization also has a fantastic narrative of the Timothy Ball House. Including this tidbit: "It was built in 1743 by a grandson of Edward Ball, who settled in Newark in 1666 (just six years after the English took over the Island of Manhattan from the Dutch and renamed it New York) and was a signer of the Fundamental Agreement Among the Puritans." which goes to show just how far back the Balls go. Amazing!