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Riverfront Home By Mystery Starchitect of the 19th Century


"Stone Cottage" was built in 1840 for Rev. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, an important figure in the 19th-century Presbyterian church who taught slaves in Virginia (not a popular project) and was chief of the Presbyterian Board of Education. His home has been attributed to William Strickland (Merchant's Exchange, National Mechanics, etc. etc.) but the final plans were found in the papers of Thomas U. Walter (Moyamensing Prison, part of the U.S. Capitol, etc. etc.). Remember, this was before iCloud, so such confusion was possible. One clue to the identity of its designer may be the placement of the stairs at the back—Strickland wasn't big on stairs, apparently.

Whoever designed it, the home is grand and lovely. Sure, it's not an enormous Main Line mansion with a media room. But the period details—the molding, built-ins, woodwork, fireplaces—have been so well-preserved, it's a treasure. You can definitely picture a clergyman reading the Bible by the fire in this house.

Size: 6 beds, 3 baths, 4,980 square feet
Outdoors: Garden/patio, Delaware River
Extras: Second kitchen for the in-laws, fireplaces aplenty
Price: $449,900
· Listing: 180 Riverbank, Burlington, NJ [Estately]