WELCOME TO APPIN: 85 Stewart Road, Short Hills, NJ
"Appin", The Home of Mr. & Mrs. John A. Stewart, Jr. at Short Hills, New Jersey by Dennis N. Bertland for J. Arthur Johnsen, AIA
John A. Stewart Jr. built the stone house now known as 85 Stewart Road on the property that he purchased in 1886 from Sarah A. C. Seavers. Before that time the property was part of an evidently undeveloped twenty four-acre tract of land that changed hands several times in the middle decades of the 19th century and for which no title deed earlier than 1833 has been discovered. Stewart paid $7,000 for the lot in 1886, a substantial increase from its price of $675 in 1854 or even the 1860 price of $2,400. The increased value no doubt reflected the efforts of Stewart Hartshorn to create an "ideal" suburban community in the picturesque Short Hills section of Millburn Township. Hartshorn, a successful businessman who had suffered poor health, began to acquire property there in the 1870s. He then set about constructing roads that followed the contours of the land, building houses of individual design on substantial lots which he rented to prosperous city people, and selling lots to others who agreed to erect private residences that complied with his standards. By 1884, Hartshorn had built thirty-three houses as well as the "Music Ball", the social center of his community.
John A. Stewart Jr. (1857-1946) is said to have been a friend of Stewart Hartshorn and to have come to Short Hills because of his interest in horses. Born in Irvington-onHudson, he was the son of John A. Stewart, financial advisor to Abraham Lincoln, founder of the United States Trust Company, and chairman of that bank's board of trustees at his death in 1926 at the age of 104. John A. Stewart Jr. graduated in 1879 from Princeton University where he gained notice in tract and gymnastics and in 1881 from Columbia Law School. Thereafter he was associated with Sidney J. Smith in the real estate firm of Smith and Stewart until his retirement about 1920.
Stewart moved to Short Hills in 1885 and lived on Old Short Hills Road until the completion in 1887 of his substantial stone house which he named "Appin". In 1886 and 1P87 he acquired the additional property from Sarah Seavers adjacent to his original purchase. One of the deeds (Essex County Book M-23, page 109) includes a map which shows the structures on Stewart's property that evidently were erected the previous year. The largest one is L-shaped and undoubtedly is the present house. The second, near the northeast corner of the lot, is identified as the "gardener's cottage"; it apparently forms the core of the dwelling now at that site. The third, standing directly to the north of the house, probably is the existing carriage house, now converted into residential use.
Both outbuildings were built as simple, late Victorian, vernacular structures, the house was designed by an unknown architect to reflect the traditional architecture of England's West Country. Evocative of the stone cottages and farmhouses of the Cotswold Hills, it is a forthright, Lshaped block with rough ashlar stone walls, a parapeted gable roof, and a simple, largely symmetrical fenestration. More typical of late 19th-century suburban dwellings are its massive, gable-end porches, the south-side terrace and bay window, and the elegantly detailed interior. The well preserved house is set back from the street on a small knoll. It’s surrounding grounds are naturally landscaped with informal plantings and fieldstone retaining walls.
Once settled in their new house, Stewart and his wife Anne became involved in the life of the community. A keen hunting man, Stewart was Master of the Essex Fox Hounds in 1888-1889. In 1916, he joined the Short Hills Club. In New York, he belonged to the Union Club and the Holland Masonic Lodge. Anne Stewart together with eight other women formed the Short Hills Garden Club in 1906. This was one of the first clubs of its kind in America. Subsequently, it became a founding member of the Garden Club of America and a charter member in 1925 of the Garden Club of New Jersey. From 1925 to 1929 Mrs. Stewart served three terms as president of the Garden Club of America.
The Stewarts maintained their residence at "Appin" for the remainder of their lives. Mrs. Stewart. died in 1935 and her husband in 1946 at the age of 89. Their son, John A. Stewart III, and granddaughter, Mrs. T. Wilkinson Satter-Thwaite, both of Short Hills, survived him, as did two great-grandchildren.
John A. Stewart III, who was a member of the New York Stock Exchange, served as his father's executor. In 1948, he and his wife sold the Appin property (consisting of two tracts, one 9.5 acres and the other .18 acre) to John and Shirley Steinback. The Steinbacks divided the property into several lots and later that year sold lot No. 6 on which stood the house to Thomas and Mary Logan. It was at that time that presumably the carriage house and the gardener’s cottage were converted into primary residences. The main house changed hands several times again until its purchase by the present owners, Paul and Shirely Sarpi, in 1978.
The information above is deemed to be accurate but is not guaranteed and is subject to change.