How the Somerset Hills Became “The Somerset Hills”

December 4, 2019 // Filed under Blog

On Sunday, December 8 at 2:00 pm, noted local historian W. Barry Thomson will explain how the Somerset Hills became “The Somerset Hills.” Mr. Thomson’s illustrated presentation will cover the cultural, economic, and social factors that set in motion the so-called “Country House Era” that began in the 1870s and how those factors played out in the Somerset Hills. His talk will illustrate the “when, why, how, and by whom” the beautiful rolling hills of northern Somerset and nearby Morris counties became “The Somerset Hills” and the social cachet that came to be associated with that name.

The rise of the “New Money” plutocrats after the Civil War, how they lived and spent their vast incomes during what Mark Twain termed the “Gilded Age,” and how they worked to assimilate themselves into “Old Money” society will also be covered. A good portion of the talk will focus on Bernardsville, which was the original core of the Mountain Colony.

Mr. Thomson was born and raised in Peapack-Gladstone and received his undergraduate degree at Drew University. He co-authored, with the late Jack Turpin, the two-volume work, “New Jersey Country Houses: The Somerset Hills.” He has written and co-written several articles on aspects of Somerset Hills history. A noted lecturer on various aspects of architectural and local New Jersey history, he has also prepared nominations of historic sites for the National Public Register of Historic Places.

There is no charge to attend the program; advance registration is requested. click here to sign up.

Pictured: Somerset Inn, circa 1906

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