Marie Zimmermann House and Farm - Milford, PA
In 1745, Jacobus Van Etten buys a parcel of land along the Delaware River in order to farm. His son, Johannes, builds a house here in 1750. This was a time in which the settlers and Indians lived peaceably together. However, the peace was followed by the bitter 10-year French and Indian War with hostage-taking, scalping, and homestead destruction. How Johannes and his family fared in all this, we don't know. Then in 1780, a bloody skirmish with the Indians occurred at the north end of the property, later called the Battle of Conashaugh, and considered the last major battle of the American Revolution.
In 1882, John Zimmermann, a Swiss immigrant, purchased the property from Daniel E. Van Etten, likely the grandson of Johannes, who has worked the farm for most of his natural life. Zimmermann and his wife, Marie, and 5 children use the farm and house as a weekend and summer second home. The fourth child is named after her mother, Marie, and grows up there, enthralled with the natural world around her and learns to shoot and fish.
This seems to spark a creative sense and Marie decides to become a metalsmith, after taking some courses at Pratt Institute, and after considerable debate with her father, who wants her to become a doctor. By 1910 she has established her talent with many commissions from around the country and she takes a studio in the prestigious National Arts Club in New York. About this time, she also lends her design sense to the building of a new family home (Dutch Colonial Revival with Breton influences) at the farm, which faces a wide curve in the Delaware. It is a slate-roofed and gabled, has 8 fireplaces, and six bedrooms.
The 20s and 30s are a very productive time for Marie, but her life takes a tragic turn as she loses her entire family in a five year period in the thirties. Approaching 60 and being pressured by the government to keep better records of the precious metals and gems she uses, Marie retires in 1940 from the art world. Her retort to Washington, "I'm an artist, not a bookkeeper!".
Over the next few years, Marie transitions to her beloved farm in Pennsylvania, that she knew so well as a child, and applies her creative sense to every aspect of running its affairs, and stays there for the next 25 years. She is attended by a cook, a seamstress, a housekeeper, a personal secretary, and a chauffeur. She pursues hunting and fishing, gives special attention to her two gardens, has occasional private dinner parties with friends, and winters in Florida. Marie is also accompanied for a number of years by her companion Miss Allen, an actress from California.
In 1969, her last year at the farm, and in her 90th year, the men on the farm prop her up in a tractor with her gun to go hunting, and she designs and builds a mausoleum honoring 8 family members and herself in Milford Cemetery.
Marie dies in Punta Gorda, Florida in 1972 at 93 on the same day she was born, June 17.
Twenty-five years later, in 1997, local citizens enter into a working partnership with the National Park Service to restore her legacy, her home, and her property. In 2012 her home and much of her property is restored, and summer house tours are conducted there a year later.
The house and farm are accessed by the Zimmermann Farm Road, whose entrance is in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, US 209 between Milford and Dingmans Ferry at Zimmermann Farm Road between mile markers 14 and 15.
Time Period Represented
19th and 20th century