Saturday, August 18, 2012

Examining New Jersey's History at Covenhoven House

On a lovely, surprisingly cool August day, the Central New Jersey chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America (CNJ-JASNA) met at the historic Covenhoven House in Freehold for our bi-monthly meeting. We feasted on a potluck lunch, complete with a surplus of sweet treats, while discussing good books everyone was reading lately.

Afterwards, we were treated to a docent-led tour of the house by our very own Jere, who wore a period dress of her own design and making. We learned a rich history about this little corner of our state, particularly its role in the Revolutionary War. And, of course, we learned a great deal about the Covenhovens, who after becoming flush with money when they inherited $500, built this grand house in 1752. Being of Dutch descent, the Covenhovens incorporated Dutch, British, and Roman (then very popular) styles into their home's architectural design. Their lovely home consists of a large kitchen, parlor, and downstairs guest room along with three bedrooms upstairs (only two of which are open to the public). One of these upstairs bedrooms has a unique aspect, but you'll have to visit to see this wonderful surprise for yourself! Along the way, Jere explained various aspects of Georgian life in general and particulars about the Covenhovens' lifestyle.

Bringing things back around to Jane Austen, Jere noted that the house was later owned by an American sea captain who lived there with his family. They were known to entertain and host dances, just like the ones we read about in Austen's novels. The Covenhovens were also known to entertain, but Jane was only a toddler when the Battle of Monmouth was ongoing, at which time the Covenhoven House was seized by General Clinton to become the British headquarters in the area. Again, you must visit the house to hear the story of how the feisty 80-year-old Mrs. Covenhoven fought against the British in her own way!

The entire CNJ-JASNA group so loved our visit to the Covenhoven House that we have resolved to spend more time visiting historical sites in Monmouth County!

(Cross-posted to CNJ-JASNA’s blog)

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