Tax-Exempt Status Confirmed

The Friends of the Van Ness House received notification from the IRS December 20, 2022 (but effective as of July 8, 2022) that we are an official 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. In the upcoming month we will begin negotiations with the Township of Fairfield to have our organization take ownership of the house. This new status allows us now to apply for all-important grants. We also hope that individuals with an interest in our endeavor will now find it more appealing to make a contribution towards much-needed restoration and upkeep of the structure. Any donations may be sent to:

Friends of the Van Ness House
Care of Michael Middleton
96 Big Piece Rd
Fairfield, NJ 07004

History of the House

The First Van Ness ancestors to settle in America were Cornelis Hendricksz van Ness (1600-1681) and his wife Maycke (Hendricksdr) van den Burchgraeff (1602-1664), who were married in Vianen, Netherlands in 1625, and by 1641 arrived on the Rensselaer tract near present-day Albany, New York. Their grandson Simon Van Ness (1666-1733) came south to New Jersey to purchase land, along with eight other Dutch settlers, in the 14,000 acre Horseneck Tract from the Lenape Native Americans. Simon Van Ness owned 300 acres of the north-east boundary. Eventually, in a dispute with the Lords Proprietor of the region, the administrators of his estate accepted their terms and his descendants got a deed on September 3, 1744, confirming they owned the land. In 1749 his estate was divided among his four children and two sons-in-law. The part of his property situated in present-day Fairfield, known as his homestead, was inherited by his son Isaac (1707-1785). The house is estimated to have been built ca. 1760. Isaac’s son Peter (1730-1820) was the next owner, followed by his son Jacob (1755-1821). The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 29, 1977, and in 2019 it was listed by Preservation New Jersey as one of the ten most endangered properties in the state.


John Ostering,, 973-865-7398. Verona resident, member of the Cedar Grove Historical Society. Michael Middleton,, 973-356-5961, Fairfield resident, preservation architect with Li/Saltzman Architects in NYC. Sharon Olson,, 203-893-3497. Fifth great-granddaughter of Peter Van Ness, Annapolis, MD, resident. Responsible for nominating the house for endangered status in 2019.

Peter Van Ness House, 236 Little Falls Road, Fairfield, New Jersey 

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