NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - It was built in 1739 on a rise overlooking the Raritan River. George Washington visited it, so did British soldiers, who according to legend left their marks that are still visible today on the heavy wood floors.
Buccleuch Mansion, in Buccleuch Park, is still standing and expected to reopen to the public next year after a $527,000 renovation that has taken more than a year to complete. Broken shutters were replaced with replicas of the originals.
"Exactly historically accurate new shutters were built," city Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin said during a recent visit to the three-story building.
The front porch facing the river was repaired. Steel beams were installed to support the staircase and the walls just below the roof, with all the beams now hidden behind the newly plastered walls. "It's not easy to find someone who knows how to plaster and has the historical expertise," Loughlin said.
All the work was done under plans from an architecture firm that deals in historical restoration.
Still, many historic aspects of the building remain, including the dents in the second-floor dark hardwood floor planks.
Small round indentations along with short straight digs are still visible, both the result of British soldiers who dug their gun barrels and bayonets into the floor when they took over the mansion during the Revolutionary War, according to historical stories of the building.
Rooms are now freshly painted in pale greens, pink and aquamarine, colors chosen for their historical authenticity, Loughlin said.
Chairs, tables, benches and other items in the room were provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution, New Jersey Blue Chapter, which is based in New Brunswick.
"The people of New Brunswick and our members have donated them over the years," said Amy Chancer, treasurer of the DAR chapter.
That chapter has been the curator of the mansion for 104 years, since 1914, Chancer said. The organization keeps an office in the building and offers tours.
Anthony White, the son-in-law of New Jersey Colonial governor Lewis Morris, built the mansion, completing in 1739.
Charles Stewart, a colonel in the U.S. Army, bought the house in the 1780s. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Hancock were among the prominent people who visited the mansion.
Joseph Scott Warren purchased the house in 1821, and in 1911, Scott's grandson, Anthony Dey donated it to the city.
In June 2017, the city council approved a contract to restore the building. This is the second time the building has been restored in the early 1990s, according to Loughlin.
"It's a spot of local historical significance," said city spokeswoman Jennifer Bradshaw.
City officials tentatively plan to reopen the mansion in the spring, resuming the tours on Sundays.