How is it still standing? Look inside the oldest home for sale in NJ
I recently spent a beautiful sunny fall day experiencing a true slice of New Jersey and American history: The Nothnagle Log House.
Built by Finnish settler Antti Niilonpoika, the cabin is located near natural springs and the Nehaunsy Creek. Fishing and trapping would be abundant. The ground is fertile and would have been excellent for farming.
The experience of visiting Nothnagle was made all the more enjoyable by the delightful company of owner Doris Rink.
Nothnagle is purportedly the oldest surviving log house in the United States. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.
Located in the Gibbstown section of Gloucester County, it is a glimpse back into a time when brave settlers were first trying to tame the wilds of New Jersey.
For being built around 1638, it is in remarkably good condition.
That is largely due to the loving restoration and preservation of Doris and her late husband, Harry, who were married in front of the historic fireplace. They fell in love with each other, and this gem of a home.
Harry visited the Nothnagle cabin as a young man in 1949. He helped with odd jobs around the property. He purchased the home in 1968.
Doris greets me upon arrival and takes me inside.
Walking inside, you can feel the history emanating from every corner.
It is essentially one room that measures 16 by 22 feet, which for the time, was nearly twice the size of the average home. Historians suggest the family that originally built the cabin was well-to-do for the era.
The large fireplace, angled in a corner, was likely stone used as ship ballast. It is the position of the fireplace that added to the cabin’s structural integrity and likely helped keep it standing through the centuries.
Much of the original ironwork is still present in and around the fireplace, which would be used for cooking as well as heating the cabin.
This awl was likely used to hew many of the logs used in the construction of the cabin .
Candles and an oil lamp would have provided light inside the cabin.
The floor was originally dirt. A wood floor was added around 1730 when the home was nearly 100 years old.
As Harry was working on the floor, he came across what he thought was the carcass of a dead animal. It turned out to be a shoe, likely from the Puritan period of American history. It is now one of the many artifacts preserved inside the cabin.
The sole of the shoe is still well-preserved.
A Puritan hat was found in the second story.
I don't think it fits me very well.
No nails were used in the construction of the cabin. Square-hewn logs of white oak were linked with a double dovetail joint to provide a snug fit. Hardwood pegs were used a fasteners.
The wallpaper in the home dates back to 1892. A trunk contains some of the original paper manufactured by the Graves Wallpaper Company in Philadelphia.
Two of the logs were able to be removed during the Summer months to provide air circulation and cool the inside of the cabin.
The dark wood on the ceiling is where access to the second story was provided. a ladder and stairs have since been removed. Children likely slept in the cramped loft, while the adults slept in bed rolls in the main space.
After a tour of the cabin, Doris and I walked the grounds. As sunlight filtered through the 100ft tall Redwood trees, she lovingly talked about her history with this landmark, and how maintaining the property has become to difficult.
She hopes the right buyer is out there and can continue the work and legacy of her husband, “I hope someone will fall in love with this place as much as we did,” she said, “This is a living part of history.”
"Every day is a new adventure, and a new learning," Doris says.
Would you like to carry on Doris and Harry Rink? The property is for sale.
The asking price has been reduced to $450,000, and includes a four-car detached garage, machine shop, gazebo and shed on 1.31 acres.
A more modern home, relatively speaking, is attached to the cabin. A two-story addition was added between 1730 and 1735. An addition was built in 1900.
If you are interested, you can contact Weichert Realtors' Christina Huang at 732-742-937 or email@example.com.