The geographic region that is home to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was known historically as the “Minisink,” a name of Native American origin. The area today contains a virtual repository of 18th- and 19th-century vernacular buildings and possesses a unique blend of styles and is under the care and protection of the National Park Service. European colonial settlers brought to the Minisink diverse architectural traditions, which over time coalesced into stylistic blends, one early example being the Van Campen Inn. One could almost liken these stylistic blends to an “architectural cocktail,” an amalgamation of architectural details from Dutch Colonial, Georgian, Federal, and other sources with harmonizing, yet distinguishable, parts.
Later, as 19th and 20th century architectural styles developed elsewhere, a diversity of new styles eventually began to appear in the rural Minisink. Quaint rather than formal, these were unexacting, free interpretations of historical popular styles being published in “pattern books.” So it was with Greek Revival. By the mid-19th century, several “high style” examples of this type had been built, including the Greek Revival House in Peters Valley, NJ. An even greater number of vernacular versions, though, dot the valley’s landscape today. These less pretentious 1 1/2 story dwellings often adopted Greek Revival detailing in the form of paneled friezes with “eyebrow” windows. Such was the case with the Upper Delaware Valley cottage, one of the park’s dominant vernacular dwelling types.
Larger scale hybrid versions of Victorian, Italianate, and Queen Anne styles cropped up in towns and villages and, by the turn of the century, in a growing number of resorts. The Zimmermann family from Brooklyn, NY, built a Dutch Colonial Revival style summer home on their farm, now called Marie Zimmermann House. The region’s early settlement architecture inspired much of this 2 1/2-story stone house’s detailing although other styles were added to the mix. The eclectic result is an extreme example of stylistic blending. Craftsman and Shingle style features together with a rounded bulging entrance tower reminiscent of a Dutch windmill combine to give the building a picturesque, almost storybook appearance — as if to suggest later alterations to an earlier house.
The c. 1910 origins of the Ramirez Solar House had expansive verandahs and intersecting gambrel shaped roofs in a style also derivative of the Shingle and Colonial Revival periods. Architect Henry Wright, Jr., an early solar advocate, drastically remodeled the house in 1944. The decidedly modern yet Rustic result features a large glass window wall facing south to collect the sun's energy. This is the second passive solar house built in America. In the remodeling, Wright freely mixed and matched both traditional and modern, the old with the new, creating an "architectural cocktail" if there ever was one. As a stronghold of vernacular mixtures of Colonial, Classical Revival, Victorian, and Early Modern architecture, the Minisink exemplifies the "messy vitality" that a rural agrarian economy is capable of when unfettered by the amenities or the expectations of a cultured city life.
Last updated: January 14, 2016