02 July 2018

World War I Ends in Raritan, 1921

Most wars have two endings - the end of hostilities, and the signing of a treaty. Such is the case with the Great War of 1914-1918 which formally ended on July 2, 1921, in Raritan, New Jersey.

3 July 1921 New Brunswick Sunday Times
President Warren G. Harding and New Jersey Senator Joseph Frelinghuysen were golf buddies from the time when they served in the Senate together - often spending hours together on the links in Maryland. After Harding became President in 1921, it was only natural for him to spend some vacation time with Frelinghuysen at his Raritan Estate. After all, it was adjacent to the Raritan Valley Country Club.

The Frelinghuysen Mansion circa 1891 -
P.C. Richard & Son is on the site today

With the July 4th holiday falling on a Monday in 1921, the President came north to enjoy a long weekend of golf in the country. On July 2nd he received word that a messenger was on his way carrying the Knox-Porter Resolution - the document that officially ended America's role in World War I.

10 July 1921 Home News

Harding signed the resolution with little fanfare in the Frelinghuysen mansion, surrounded by family, friends, aides, and a few politicians. Afterward, reporters were eager to ask the President about the big prize-fight the previous evening with Jack Dempsey retaining his world championship. Harding seemed oblivious to the bout the whole country was talking about, asking, "Was it a good fight?"

19 July 1921 Home News
Harding golfed every day that weekend, including on July 4th. Before heading to the first tee on that day, he christened a nine-foot rowboat built by Frelinghuysen's son Joseph, Jr. It was noted that this was the first "ship" launched by the President.

8 July 1921 Morning News
After eighteen holes, the President and the Senator returned to Frelinghuysen's home, where they spent the afternoon greeting hundreds, maybe thousands, of area residents on the lawn of the estate.

8 July 1921 Home News
Frelinghuysen served in the Senate until March 1923. He contemplated running again in 1938, but decided against it and instead retired to Arizona where he died in 1948.

27 August 1957 Courier News
The mansion was used for a time by the State Police before being acquired by real estate developer Philip J. Levin in 1952. He planned a shopping center on the site, and eventually got around to razing the house in 1957.

The original concept for Raritan shopping center

Less than three weeks into the demolition, the house - which was built in 1874 and also visited by presidents Taft, Coolidge, and Hoover, was struck by an arsonist.

12 September 1957 Courier News
Today there is a marker near a spot that would have been the entrance to the estate. Electronics retailer P.C. Richard & Son sits at the approximate site of the mansion.

March 2014

1 comment:

  1. My father & uncle salvaged the floor beams from the hall where the treaty was signed and used them to build the 30+ foot long roof for the garage on Champlain Road. He also salvaged the core of the brass chandelier.