The Glen Alpin property was known in the community as Hoyt’s Corner after Henry Hoyt bought it in 1840. However, the Hoyts referred to it as Mount Kemble. H.A. Hoyt shows the location on the 1853 map of Morris County.
Henry S. Hoyt, born in 1810, was the son of New York merchant and investor Goold Hoyt, one of the founders of the Merchants’ Exchange Bank. Hoyt married Frances Maria Duer, daughter of William A. Duer, a president of Columbia College (now Columbia University) and grandson of Revolutionary War General William Alexander (Lord Stirling).
Trained as a lawyer, Hoyt retired from active practice in his mid fifties. He was one of the organizers of the second Episcopal congregation in Morristown, now Church of the Redeemer, and he remained active in the church through 1887.
On May 16, 1840, Henry S. Hoyt purchased a 242-acre parcel from Richard Kemble that included the old Mt. Kemble house. Six years after purchasing the property, he had the Kemble house moved up the road toward Morristown, and made plans to build a new house farther back from the road. The new Hoyt house is an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis in the 1840s and 1850s.
A Gothic Revival Villa
The 1840’s was the height of Downing and Davis’ popularity and their architectural pattern books were very influential in American architecture. Several of Downing’s books contain houses in the Gothic Revival style that have similar features to those that are found at Glen Alpin, including several designs in Cottage Residences; or, A series of designs for Rural Cottages and Cottage Villas, 1852, and The Architecture of Country Houses, 1850.
Downing felt a house should blend in with its natural surroundings and where possible indigenous plants and materials should be used. The puddingstone used in Glen Alpin is an example of this belief. This sedimentary rock is found in the western portions of Morris County.
The Gothic Revival architectural style is evident looking at the façade of the original house. The original house consisted of the music room, reception room, hall, drawing/living room, dining room, and kitchen. The one-story study/library, covered pantry directly off the kitchen, glass conservatory, and laundry room were added at a later time.
The front of the house has three gables with gingerbread trim. Arched windows extend into the steep gables to promote the vertical emphasis. The chimneys are clustered together with ornamental chimney stacks. The windows on the first floor are rectangular shaped with square hood moldings over the window. All of the windows have diamond shaped panes.
“Mr. Hoyt had determined in 1846 to build himself a handsome residence at his place
and while the building was being done he and Mrs. Hoyt went to Europe.”
– Mrs. Hoyt’s niece, Maria ‘May’ King Van Rensselaer (1848-1925)
The external masonry construction was a combination of unpainted local puddingstone and brick. The exterior appears to have been near completion in July of 1847. The interior finishing would have then proceeded, with completion of the interior in late 1847 or 1848. This confirms the physical evidence discovered by restoration contractor Peter Olin, who worked on the house in the 1990s. He found a mixture of pointed and non-pointed screws used in the original construction, and believes this indicates a date of around 1847, shortly after the invention of the pointed screw in Birmingham, England in the 1840s.
The original paint on the exterior trim was a dark reddish-brown, intended to replicate the color of the brownstone trim. On the outside surfaces of the roof trim, and on the window frames, the paint was sanded to imitate the texture of the brownstone. On the underside of the soffits, the same color was used without the sand treatment. The window sashes were grained to imitate unpainted wood.
The layout of the three interior floors of the original house has remained virtually unchanged. On the first and second floors, many of the windows, interior window shutters, castings and moldings are original. The main staircase, including the railing and balusters that form gothic arches, is original.
A 1949 photograph shows a balcony above the portico which has since been removed. The balcony is consistent with the Gothic Revival style. In Downing’s 1844 edition of A Treatise on the Theory & Practice of Landscape Gardening, a sketch of a residence matching Glen Alpin appears on page 80 with the caption, Fig 17. “View of the same residence, improved.” The only difference between this sketch and Glen Alpin is the full-length front verandah stretching the entire length of the front of the house. Although the earliest pictures of Glen Alpin are from the McAlpin period, Mrs. Frances Duer Hoyt wrote a poem describing her home in which there is a verandah.
The Hoyts took up residence in the house in July of 1848, and they owned the house for 37 years. The Hoyts resided at the house at the time of the 1850 census, taken in December 1850. Henry Hoyt’s occupation was listed as “Farmer” and his real estate was valued at $20,000. At the time of the 1860 census, Hoyt’s occupation was listed as “Gentleman,” and his real estate was valued at $150,000, while his personal estate added another $80,000. Hoyt first offered his Morris County property for sale in 1872.
Throughout the 1860s, the Hoyts traveled to Europe on a regular basis. Upon returning from Europe, Mrs. Hoyt decided she wanted to be closer to her family in Rhode Island. On November 15, 1881, for the sum of $30,000, Hoyt purchased a house at the corner of Old Beach Road and Sunnyside Place in Newport from George Champlin Mason, the architect who had built it for his own use in 1873. In 1882, Hoyt’s name appeared in the Newport directory as a summer resident, and, in 1884, as a permanent resident.
It wasn’t until March 1885 that Hoyt finally sold the house and 336 acres to David Hunter McAlpin for $25,000. Henry S. Hoyt died at Pau, France on March 18, 1891. Mrs. Henry Hoyt died in her 96th year at her residence in Newport, Rhode Island. They had no children.