Glen Alpin's Significance
Glen Alpin is a key contributing site in the Tempe Wick Road/Washington Corners Historic District, listed on the New Jersey and the National Registers of Historic Places, and eligible individually in its own right.
This is the corner where the early road south from Morristown (now US 202) crosses the 18th-century road toward Mendham shown on the map Washington’s Position at Morristown 1780 drawn by Hessian engineer Jacob Martin. It is close to Jockey Hollow, where George Washington’s army camped in 1779-80–now part of Morristown National Historical Park. Most of the land where they camped belonged to Peter Kemble, whose house, “Mount Kemble,” was on this corner. During the coldest winter on record, nearly 13,000 men shivered in inadequate clothing and sometimes starved while living in huts on the wooded hills. Kemble was on the royal council governing New Jersey under kings George II and George III. The elderly Tory had avoided having his land confiscated because his son Richard, who lived with him, signed the required oath of allegiance to the new government. His house became crowded when American generals William Smallwood and later Anthony Wayne quartered there.
The graves of Peter Kemble and six members of his family remain on the front lawn. His descendants include the Viscounts Gage, due to the marriage of Kemble’s daughter to the British general Thomas Gage, son of the 1st Viscount. The Kemble house still exists as a private home where it was relocated in 1846, a quarter-mile closer to Morristown.
The present house at Glen Alpin is considered the finest example of the Gothic Revival style in New Jersey. Henry and Frances (Duer) Hoyt had it built in 1847 after moving the Kemble house. With its original veranda and circular driveway, the new house resembled a model example in Alexander Jackson Downing’s Treatise on the Theory & Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841 and 1844 ed.). Downing and architects A. J. Davis and John Notman promoted the Gothic Revival style at the time.
The families who first occupied Glen Alpin had some significance in American history. The Duers had political and social connections in New York and hosted former president Martin Van Buren here. The McAlpins who acquired the property in 1885 were similarly influential. The quality of Glen Alpin’s original construction — and of the McAlpins’ Colonial Revival remodeling in 1886 — and the integrity of its surviving historic materials add to its architectural significance.
The land at Glen Alpin slopes toward Primrose Brook, one of the cleanest streams flowing into the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Had this corner not been purchased as open space in 2004, it could have been subdivided and developed as three residential lots.