High on A Hilltop - The Huber Estate
When ink magnate Joseph M. Huber came to America in 1883, he had his eyes set on New York – as so many immigrants did at the time. He brought his family’s dry color business here from Germany and, within a few years, Huber was one of the most recognized names in America’s new industrialized economy. There was Carnegie. There was Rockefeller. And, there was Huber.
While New York was home, Huber and his wife Anna spent much of their vacation time at the Jersey Shore, returning summer after summer to an old farmhouse on the hilly countryside by the Navesink River in the Locust section of Middletown, in Monmouth County. The Hubers purchased the land from Andrew Brown and, in 1923, replaced the old farmhouse with a spectacular English Tudor Manor-style home designed by Mrs. Huber's brother, Brutus Gundlach.
Of course, the home’s design was inspired by the family’s Bavarian roots, and so the now 9,900 square-foot house (including finished 700 square-foot upper and 1,200 square-foot lower levels) is topped by a distinctive terra cotta roof reflective of the Alpine region of Germany. Inside, the wooden plank floors, original to the 1920s home, lead you through. Rounded arch openings welcome you from room to glorious room; in fact, there is something wonderful to see beyond every turn.
Of particular interest is the River Room, a perfect place to unwind at any time of day. Here, the walls have been constructed with fieldstone excavated from the original construction on the property. The sturdy rock also flanks the fireplace and wet bar, and a patio that overlooks the nearby lapping waters of the Navesink.
Just beyond is a large gourmet kitchen with all the amenities. Like so much of the home, this focal point retains old warm charm as it offers the conveniences of modern luxury. Multiple appliances, custom cabinetry and backsplash and a nearby breakfast room complete the space.
The original design of the home is illustrative of large-scale suburban architecture of the 1920-1940 period. However, in 2002, an extensive renovation was completed in the Stickley style, a design philosophy inspired by ideals of simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials. A first-floor suite with three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms was added, along with another two bedrooms on the second floor. More recently, the third floor was renovated to provide more living space.
Whether it’s the view from the long and winding driveway up to the home, or the moments enjoyed at the serene edge of the Navesink, the elegant home provides old world charm beautifully melded with modern convenience and luxury.
Note: The original plot of land, which included peach orchards and expansive farmland and woods, was permanently preserved when the Hubers donated 103 acres to the Monmouth County Park System in 1974. In 1984, the J.M. Huber Corporation donated another 48 acres of the Huber estate, and the house, to the Park System. This property is now known as Huber Woods and is enjoyed year-round by visitors.