Historic Rockingham Chosen for Holiday Greeting Card
Rep. Rush Holt has commissioned a rendering of Historic Rockingham in Kingston for his official 2003 holiday greeting card. Princeton artist Sergio Bonotto created the sketch.
In the past, Mr. Holt has used the artist's drawings of the Einstein House on Mercer Street, the Bridgepoint area in Montgomery Township, and the Roebling-designed shaky bridge in Trenton for other holiday cards.
The congressman first became acquainted with Mr. Bonotto's work when he saw his drawings of local landmarks a few years ago in Princeton shops. Mr. Bonotto, 78, was born in Turin, Italy, and came to the U.S. as a war refugee in 1940. He is a retired chemist from Union Carbide and has been drawing since his days in fox holes in World War II.
After finishing his career in the corporate world in 1985, Mr. Bonotto returned to his love of drawing, prints, and watercolors. He learned how to operate an offset press and started his own business selling note cards. The scenes on his cards include sites at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Universities, as well as local landmarks such as Palmer Square, Princeton Seminary, and Witherspoon Street.
The artist's cards may be purchased at college bookshops, Jordan's in the Princeton Shopping Center, and The Papery on Hulfish Street.
Mr. Holt chose Historic Rockingham for his holiday card because he was active last June in the 225th anniversary of the Road to Monmouth, which celebrated New Jersey's role during the the American Revolution, when the British Army retreated across the state on its way to New York City during the summer of 1778. Mr. Holt wanted to celebrate the area's heritage, as well as to educate others about the role New Jersey and his district have played in the nation's history. First built in 1710, Rockingham was Gen. George Washington's last war time headquarters in 1783. Also known as the Berrien Mansion, Gen. Washington was staying at the home when he received news that the Treaty of Paris had been signed, giving the 13 colonies independence from Great Britain. In anticipation of the treaty, he had written his Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States in the "Blue Room" at Rockingham.
In July 2001, the Historic Rockingham was moved to a location on Rt. 603 in Kingston, which is the fourth move for the historic site. The house has been placed in its original south-facing direction to provide for the appropriate landscaping. The home is currently closed while the Rockingham Association renovates the building.
Restoration on the house and its two smaller buildings commenced in August 2002, and should be complete by next spring. Currently the home's collection of antiques and artifacts is being stored in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
To encourage artistic designs in the state building, Rockingham was awarded an Arts Inclusion Grant by the Department of State, New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Items that would have made up Washington's personal and business collection will be purchased by The Rockingham Association to add to the historic home.
In addition, an 1831 Almanac, four 1760 dining chairs, a 19th century journal of Robert Bayles, a former resident of Rockingham, and 18th century sewing supplies have all been donated to the home by private donors.
Trap Rock Industries also donated $15,000 for the construction of "worm" or "snake" fencing around the property line, and Palestine Lodge #111 Free & Accepted Masons and the Grand Lodge of New Jersey Free and Accepted Masons each contributed $2,000 to purchase a flag pole for the property.
The Stony Brook Garden Club, which also took care of the 18th century herb garden on the old property, is working to perfect an historically correct kitchen garden off the front of the home. The Rockingham Association anticipates a re-opening celebration for the home next spring.