The Derick Sutfin House in Monmouth Battlefield State Park is the park’s oldest structure, and witnessed some of the Revolution’s most dramatic scenes. Jacob Sutfin constructed the dwelling after purchasing the property in 1718. During the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, the farmhouse was in the midst of the action, caught in the crossfire of the biggest field artillery duel of the American Revolution. It is cited by name in at least one account of the battle, and it is shown on battle maps. One of the most dramatic and best documented actions of the battle took place in its apple orchard and along its fence lines. Derick Sutfin’s sons were in the militia. The day before the battle, at least one was involved with the capture of fifteen British grenadiers doing their laundry. When Derick Sutfin died in 1796, two of his neighbors carefully inventoried the contents of the dwelling, outbuildings, and fields. The exceptional detail of this document allows historians the unique opportunity to interpret Federal Period farm life with a record of every room and every shelf of the dwelling, the looms in his weaving shop, the tools in the barn, and the colors of each of his cattle.
The Sutfin House is one of three houses on the battlefield that existed on the day of the battle, the other two being the Craig House and the Rhea-Applegate House. Now a two-and-a-half-story house as a result of additions in the 1820s and 1840s, at its core is a one-and-a-third-story Dutch-framed dwelling with the “big room” in front and two small chambers in the rear aisle. The massive joist that spans the east end of the big room once supported the chimney of a jamb-less Dutch fireplace. Apart from its significance as a surviving early eighteenth-century Dutch farmhouse, it is an important point of reference in understanding how the battle ebbed and flowed over the course of the day. The cider orchard behind the house served as an anchor for the right flank of the British army. Later in the day, it witnessed the Continental counterattack.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park was created by the State of New Jersey between 1963 and 1974 through the purchase of numerous parcels of land in anticipation of the battle’s bicentennial. The battlefield itself underwent an $870,000 landscape restoration in 1993-1998. A new eight-million-dollar visitor center was opened in 2013. The Sutfin House and the Rhea-Applegate House have been stabilized over the years but never fully restored; only the Craig House has undergone a full restoration and is open to the public. All three of the houses are suffering from deterioration, with the Sutfin House being in the worst condition despite being the only home visible from the Visitor’s Center.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park is a jewel in the crown of New Jersey’s historic sites. It is of national significance, and is a major tourist attraction. The threat to the Sutfin House, a critical structure for understanding Federal Period farm life and the battle itself, is immediate. The House is in such a severely deteriorated condition that there have been discussions of implementing triage, and abandoning the house to demolition by neglect so available funds can be used to maintain two nearby homes. With the 250th anniversary of the battle less than a decade away, the State of New Jersey should be moving to allocate sufficient funds to prepare the park, and this specific home, for its upcoming part on the national stage in 2028.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
Michael Timpanaro, Historian
20 State Route 33
Manalapan, NJ 07726
New Jersey State Park Service
Mark Texel, Assistant Director
Division of Parks and Forestry