The Colonial Dames of America is an American organization composed of women who are descended from an ancestor who lived in British-America from 1607–1775, and was of service to the colonies by either holding public office, being in the military, or serving the Colonies in some other "eligible" way. The organization's goals are education of American history and historical preservation.
Peachfield is located in Westampton, New Jersey. The house was built in 1725 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 19, 1973. Today the house is owned by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Jersey and is operated as a historic house museum that is open for special events and by appointment.
In 1674, John Skene, a Quaker from Scotland, bought 300 acres of land in the second tenth of the Province of West Jersey and named the property "Peachfield."
Henry Burr purchased the property from Skene's widow in 1695. He and his wife built the east portion of the house, made with South Jersey bog ironstone, on the present site in 1725. Their son, John Burr and his wife, Kaziah, built the west part of the house in 1732. The property remained in the Burr family for 200 years. The date stones can be seen on the front of the house, way up high, about 20 feet or so. On the right side there is a date stone for 1725, and two stones beneath that is an initial stone with the letters B, H, E. The B is on top and then the other two letters are underneath. The initials stand for Henry and Elizabeth Burr. It looks like they tried to get the letters on the date stone but gave up. In a close-up, one can clearly see a B.
The left side of the house has its own date stone and initials up high as well. They managed to get the date and initials on one stone. I saw 1732 and directly underneath that, BVRR. V was used as U back then if you can remember your Latin and the 18th century alphabet. The stone is a little work but still readable.
Following an almost home-ending fire in 1928, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Harker purchased the house and engaged the architect R. B. Okie to restore the residence to a lovely country home. The walls still stood but some of the inside had collapsed and burned. it was restored to its lovely condition we see today. Upon her death in 1965, Mrs. Harker bequeathed the property to The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Jersey to be used as its State Headquarters. Her stuff is still all over the house. By my reckoning, she had very eclectic taste. Among her collection were some neat Chinese vases (or some type of pottery) from the 18th century and an Isaac Pearson made grandfather clock which was part of the tour.
I took a tour of this house with my kids (Adult $5, Kids $3). The house/museum is an excellent example of Colonial life and a Colonial house. The inside had to be redone as a result of the fire but one could never tell it was rebuilt, it is so authentic! The outside remains as it was in the 18th century. Some stones had to be replaced but the original stones were used if I understood correctly.
Our tour guide, Maureen O'Connor is a member of the The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America. I called her and she accommodated me on the same day. She was very nice and terrific with the kids. She had this scavenger hunt she gave to my son which kept he and his sister preoccupied with the tour of the museum. Pictures of the inside are allowed but turn of the flash. We spent an hour on the tour and would have stayed longer but my son had a bellyache, the illness of the bored.
The Colonial Dames have been doing a terrific job with historical sites in NJ. Peachfield and Brainerd School specifically have caught the attention of preservationists. In November 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented this prestigious award to The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America "for acquiring, restoring, and interpreting a collection of historic properties that offer invaluable opportunities to experience the rich variety of America's heritage."