|The model farm - "Florham Farms" designed by McKim, Mead & White - 1894|
WHY FLOR-HAM PARK?
The wedding of Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton McKeon Twombly in 1887(THE MOST COSTLY WEDDING DRESS ON THIS CONTINENT ), was the first official linking of the names Florence and Hamilton. The couple, worth an estimated $70 million(producing an annual income of $3.5 million, or $70,000 a week), named their 1,000-acre Afton estate "Florham" using the first syllables of their first names. Mr. Twombly established "Florham Farms" for his son Hamilton Jr., as a nine-hundred-acre working farm designed to be run on scientific principles, just as George Vanderbilt was doing at Biltmore.
In 1899, the Twomblys and Dr. Leslie D. Ward, millionaire owner of "Brooklake Park", agitated for a new borough to be split from Chatham township and called Florham Park(Broomtown). Villagers amiably expressed their willingness. The Twomblys in turn agreed that the "Park" in the new name commemorated Dr. Leslie Ward's estate called "Brooklake Park". Click HERE to read the introduction to MANSIONS OF MORRIS COUNTY and learn about the appeal the area had as a summer escape from the heat of New York City. HERE for more on the history of Florham Park, NJ.
THE "FLORHAM" FAIRYLAND The Country Gentlemen, 1905
The delights of country or farm life are never more truly realized than on the estates of some of our multi-millionaires. The conditions of life in some of these vast establishments are well nigh perfect and of course not to be attained on the average farm; yet one must always look with pleasure on such ideal establishments as "Florham Farms", the country home of Mr. Hamilton McKown Twombly, one of New York's leading financiers and bankers.
Mr. Twombly is a country squire in the fullest sense of the word, and his property, "Florham Farms", is one of the representative places of this class in the United States. Situated about two miles east of Morristown, N. J., most of the land was once considered absolutely valueless, but in the quarter of a century that it has been in Mr. Twombly's hands, the land has increased in value from $10 an acre to a price estimated at $500 to $1000. And all this because of the scientific methods which he has put into operation since gaining control of the property.
"Florham Farms" consist of 900 acres, all under-drained and under cultivation. The farm proper comprises only 750 acres of this tract, as the other 150 are laid out in the park surrounding the mansion. The farm itself is entirely separate from the park, being separated from it by a public highway, so that in reality the farm has no connection whatever witb the magnificent park in the center of which stands one of the finest mansions in New Jersey.
Although Mr. Twombly is a banker and is at his offices in New York during banking hours, he is the moving spirit of his farm, and watches every detail of it with as much care as if his income depended on it, and indeed the farm is a revenue producing establishment, turning in a profit to its owner each year. This makes "Florham Farm" somewhat unique in the way of millionaire country estates. While it is true that Mr. Twombly farms for pleasure, he also obtains a handsome dividend on his investment.
His great hobby is cattle—Guernsey cattle —and it would seem this year that his hobby had been a source of much pride to him, as he carried off the blue ribbon for Guernsey cattle at the world's fair in St. Louis. Mr. Twombly had a large number of cattle entered in the cattle exhibit at this fair, he having between 25 and 35 cattle there, which won for him the premier championship for breeder.
He also won the grand championship prize, as well as dozens of first and second prizes; in all, including prizes down to the sixth and seventh, he had a big basketful. Some of the prizes which be won are as follows:
Guernsey champion 8218, first-prize two year-old and grand champion bull; lmp. Pride of Home 14447, first-prize aged cow and female grand champion; first-prize breeders' herd; first prize for get of Rutila's Sheet Anchor 5701, and, with his own sister, Sheet Anchor's Rutlla 9170, first prize as produce of one cow (12 pairs shown); first and second prizes given by A. G. C. C. for tested cows; western Guernsey breeders' special, and 23 additional prizes of lesser note. Except three aged cows, all the animals exhibited were bred at Florham.
Out of Mr. Twombly's herd of 160, 24 qualified for the Advanced Register. What farmer would not like to own a cow that produces 790 pounds of butter a year? This means an average of over two pounds a day, and is the record of the great prize-winning cow Charmante of Gron, a six-year-old which he bred at "Florham Farms". He has other cows which have produced almost as much butter in the course of a year. To name a few of them: Pretoria, four and a half years old, with a record of 695 pounds; Itchen Buila, five years old, 640 pounds; Pride of Home, eight and a half years old, 623 pounds; Itchen Daisy, two years old, 622 pounds; Minette of the Isles, six and a half years old, 580 pounds, and so on with a list of 24, the smallest producer of all yielding 412 pounds of butter. Most of these cattle were bred on Mr. Twombly's estate, but some of them were imported. For years, Mr. J. L. Hope***what happened to Mr. Burnett?***, the very able superintendent of "Florham Farms", has been making trips abroad purchasing the best cattle be could find on the Isle of Guernsey; thus he has kept the herd up to a high standard as the results of the competition at the world's fair make very evident.
A glance at the accompanying pictures will show what Mr. Twombly considers a proper plant for a stock farm. The farm cottage, for instance, is a brick and stone structure, the main part of which is two stories and a half high, while the wings on either side are each a story and a half high. It was built at an expense of about $12,000; is commodious, containing fourteen rooms, and is occupied by Mr. Hope.
|The "Florham Farms" Creamery|
|Group of Barns at "Florham Farms"|
The farm house is on the west side of the square, the other three sides of which are made up of the creamery, shown in one of these pictures, the barn and the offices and blacksmith shop, which are not shown. In the center of the square is the water tower; the tank in this tower supplies all the buildings with water, and the windmill which supplies the tower can be seen just over the creamery. There is never a time when the tank is not full, and when the pressure is not sufficient to give all the buildings a good supply of water. Each building is also equipped with fire hose, which can be connected with a main at a moment's notice, and the pressure is sufficient to send a strong stream over any of the buildings.
|The "Florham Farms" Cottages and Water-Tower|
This group of farm buildings, which occupies a quadrangle 750 feet on each side, is about the center of the farm. The land is all low, very much lower than that of most farms surrounding it; yet so well has it been under-drained that water does not stand on any part of it more than a few hours after the heaviest rainfall. In fact, any lot on this farm will dry quicker than any lot on any contiguous farm. A vast system of ditches leads from every part of the farm to the Whippany River, which runs through one part of it. At one time, years ago, the farm was flooded two or three feet deep with water every spring and fall, and it was part of what is known as the Whippany flats, a hunters' paradise; but under the management of Mr. Twombly the river banks have been slightly built up, the channel somewhat deepened and straightened, so that now the biggest freshets will not flood an acre of his ground All the ditches are filled from the drain pipes leading underneath the surface in parallel lines. The sub-draining of this farm has cost probably $50,000 at least, and as much more will be spent before the work of draining the farm is completed as now mapped out. New systems of drains are put in every year, the work being extended until within a few years from now there will not be one foot of low land but has drain tiles underneath.
While stock raising is the principal industry of "Florham Farms", it is not the only one. Grain, wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, and in fact a general line of farm produce are raised— most of them vastly superior in quality and size to that raised on other farms in the same neighborhood. For instance, last fall one field of corn was grown, the average height of which was over 15 feet from the ground to the top of the tassel, while many stalks measured 17 and 17 1/2 feet in height. Many of these cornstalks were on exhibition in the surrounding towns. Standing in front of a store, the cornstalks looked like enormous fish-poles, as they reached well above the second-story windows and were as thick at the base as a man's wrist. In the field this corn was like a forest of young willows; while the corn was excellent in quality, yet the quantity was not such as to make it especially desirable to grow stalks of such vast height. Although the farm produces an abundance of corn, vegetables and hay, It does not produce sufficient feed for the cattle. Everything is consumed, and a great deal of grain is bought in addition.
Mr. Twombly takes great interest in the work on his farm. At least once a week he makes a tour of inspection of every part of the grounds, buildings, looks over the accounts and generally supervises the work. With him it can hardly be said that farming is an avocation, since, although it is his hobby, he devotes so much time to it with such excellent results. It would be hard to say how many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent in bringing "Florham Farms" to its present state of perfection. Certainly a quarter of a million would not cover it, but for every dollar spent, the farm is worth two dollars now. For farm purposes alone, "Florham Farms" is worth easily half a million dollars, and is earning a good dividend on that capital. THE END.
After the death of Hamilton Jr. Mr. Twombly lost interest in his model farm, the farm no longer self-sustaining fell into disrepair. Nothing remains of the farm complex. On the death(1954) of unmarried daughter Ruth Twombly, "Florham Farms" was sold for the site of the Esso(Exxon) Research and Engineering Center. Redeveloped in 2008 as The Green at Florham Park. New home for the New York Jets Training Center. Click HERE to see original location at wikimapia. At BING parts of the drainage system dug over one-hundred year ago are still visible. Aerial view from 1931 at HistoricAerials.com.
|A view of the water tower and other farm buildings.|
|Another view of the farm complex.|
|Another view of the farm complex.|
|A view of the water tower at the farm complex from inside Farmhouse cottage.|
|A later photo of the farm complex with ivy-covered buildings.|
|A later view of the farm buildings.|
|A later view of the farm buildings.|
|A later view of the water tower.|
|A later view of the water tower.|