It is the 10th annual celebration as the Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster steps back in time more than 200 years to celebrate its Colonial Christmas fundraiser.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser, and it’s been growing in popularity,” said Renae Tesauro, with the Jacobus Vanderveer House. “Last year we welcomed more than 1,500 visitors.”
And for the first time, Tesauro said, they are expanding the program to two weekends.
“Many people have asked us to expand it, so this year we are expanding to two weekends so that more visitors can attend,” she said. “Plus, more school groups will be able to attend. We have special educational programming for them.”
The event at the Jacobus Vanderveer House, on Route 202/206 in Bedminster, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, and Dec. 7 through Dec. 9. Tickets are $10, and free for children ages 12 and under.
“Our goal is to enhance awareness about this important piece of Revolutionary War history in our own backyard,” Tesauro said. “Gen. Henry Knox spent the winter of 1778-1779 at the home of Jacobus Vanderveer, and trained troops at the Pluckemin Artillery Park just down the road.”
“This was America’s first military training academy, the precursor to West Point,” she added.
Jacobus Vanderveer Jr. built a small Dutch frame-style farmhouse on the outskirts of Pluckemin. During the Revolutionary War, Vanderveer lent his home to General Henry Knox, who was commanding a new artillery encampment and training academy.
The Vanderveer house is the only remaining building from the Pluckemin encampment, and it was purchased by Bedminster Township in 1989. Over the past 15 years, the Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House has been restoring the building, putting in exhibitions and opening it to the public.
The Colonial Christmas event will include an exhibition of paintings by American landscape artist John Phillip Osborne, including a commissioned painting of Gen. Henry Knox; colonial holiday interpretations; colonial and federal antique furniture; shopping at Lady Ellen’s Mercantile Boutique; colonial musicians; re-enactors; Santa visits; period costumes and much more.
The fundraiser will include permanent exhibits, like the Kitchen Hearth, the Vanderveer Parlor and the Knox Bedroom. There will also be furniture on loan from the Newark Museum, colonial holiday interpretations, re-enactors and more.
"Visitors to the house get a firsthand look at what life was life during colonial days,” Tesauro said. “Children learn about early cooking methods, clothing and customs while visitors to Colonial Christmas will be inspired to decorate their own homes using natural elements from the outdoors like date topiaries, wreaths hung with sleigh bells, apple garlands, trees decorated with bird nests and chestnuts, for example.”
On Friday, there will be a champagne reception with the unveiling of “General Knox at the Pluckemin Artillery Barracks, 1779” by John Phillip Osborne, followed by a gala dinner at the Trump National Golf Club.
The gala will include seasonal wine and food pairings, a silent auction, music by the Plainfield Symphony and a special tribute to several honorees, including Grania Allport, Laurie Brueckner and Ellen Vreeland, all former trustees who spearheaded the restoration of the house and the creation of Colonial Christmas.
“Colonial Christmas is our biggest fundraiser for the Jacobus Vanderveer House and a vital means of preserving this extraordinary piece of Revolutionary War history for future generations,” said Leslie Molé, president of the Board of Trustees, in a release about the event. “Last year, we welcomed more than 1,500 visitors, including repeat attendees, newcomers and area schoolchildren. This year, we expect even more visitors with our expansion to two weekends and our growing popularity as the ‘go-to’ event to kick off the holiday season.”
Proceeds from the event will go toward funding interactive exhibits and period furnishings for the Jacobus Vanderveer House, which is currently being restored and developed as an educational community resource and museum.
For tickets and information, call the Bedminster Township Office at 908-212-7000, ext. 611 or visit colonialchristmas.org.