Benardsville/Peapack, NJ
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Jackie's New Jersey Retreat

 

 

 

 

 

By Steve Brawley

Jackie's Peapack NJ Estate 1965-1994.

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Beginning in 1965, Mrs. Kennedy began to spend weekends with her children about an hour from New York in the heart of New Jersey hunt country.

Jackie's Peapack House (1965 Lease, 1974 Purchase)

Source: Newswire photo

Early 1970s Peapack House rented by Jackie prior to purchase of another property

(photo by Ron Gallella)

The family at first leased, and then bought a simple home for $200,000, from Grenville Emmett, in Peapack, New Jersey - a converted sheep barn in a valley which was ideally situated for riding and fox hunting.

The rambling yellow house with white trim was once a sheep barn and featured a meadow and a hill.

A keen horsewoman since her early childhood, Mrs. Kennedy soon joined the Essex Hunt, which was established in 1870 and incorporated in Peapack in 1913.

The layout of the house was centered around a large room used as the living room and dining room. In addition to several bedrooms upstairs, there was also a library filled with floor-to-ceiling bookcases as well as an area off the kitchen where riding boots and tack were kept.

In 1975, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis auctioned off odds and ends from a house she had rented in Peapack, N.J. The sale, which included a chair used by the late President Kennedy as a student at Choate, brought in a few thousand dollars.



Onassis bought the Peapack farm house, a ten-acre estate, and used it as a retreat until she died in 1994. The home was sold in 1997 for a little under $1.5 million. While it was torn down in 2000, it lives on in at least one sense. In 2005, Caroline Kennedy's auction of family goods, including table linens and pillows from the country house, brought in $5.5 million.

A Provincial Paneled Pine Wall Cupboard (lot 389, est. $2/3,000) is among the furniture from the New Jersey residence that was offered. Also included were a Pair of Bleached Wood Coffee Tables, 20th century (lots 410-411, est. $600/800 each); a lovely Pair of Wrought-and-Gilt Iron Wall-Mounted Pricket Sticks, with leaf-decorated scrolling arms (lot 408, est. $200/300); and a Painted Ribbed Pottery Lamp (lot 506, est. $100/150).

Demonstrative of Mrs. Kennedy's passion for horses was a painting of The Hunting Party at Chantilly, by the Circle of Van der Muelen, which was estimated to sell for $15/20,000 (lot 409).

Residents of the Borough of Peapack and Gladstone in Somerset County, NH pride themselves on being nonchalant about the many celebrities who live in the borough and surrounding municipalities. Mayor Mary Hamilton said famous people were "not singled out and can remain as public or as private as they like here."

Thanksgiving at Peapack (Marta Sgubin photo)

She does have a story about Aristotle Onassis, who rented a home in neighboring Bernardsville with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

"He was an insomniac," Mrs. Hamilton said, "and he would go walking in the borough at 2 in the morning with no identification. To Mr. Onassis' embarrassment, and to the embarrassment of the police chief, he was once taken in for questioning before his habits were known."

Peapack and Gladstone is in a rural New Jersey area of estates and horse farms of the wealthy. The King of Morocco is one of the borough's biggest landowners, and foxes are still hunted here.

Jackie and her Peapack barn cat (Marta Sgubin photo)

 

Jackie's New Jersey Peapack Farm

Jackie purchased the property in 1974 for $200,000. It was sold by Caroline after her mother's death and the house has since

been demolished. (Peter Gould - Keystone 1975)

The farm and house were sold by Caroline and has since been torn down. Pictured above is a 1980/90s image of the house. See the house's dining room pictures below (windows shown above on right). Source Movie Magazine.

View of Peapack around time of Jackie's purchase. House was painted yellow with white trim. Source Movie Magazine

Press photo of Jackie's Peapack's living room. Source Movie Magazine

Peapack Living Room 1975. (Peter Gould - Keystone 1975)

Jackie's Peapack Living Room (Marta Sgubin photo)

Jackie's Peapack Living Room (Marta Sgubin photo)

Jackie's Peapack Dining Room (Marta Sgubin photo)

Caroline celebrates a birthday at Peapack (Marta Sgubin photo)

John celebrates a birthday in the Peapack Dining Room (Marta Sgubin photo)

Interior views of Jackie's Peapack house below (Photos by Sothebys Auction).

Peapack Entrance Hall. Source Sotheby's.

Peapack Living Room. Source Sotheby's

Peapack Living Room. Source Sotheby's. (See other photo below by Chris Dans)

Peapack Den. Source Sotheby's.

Peapack Dining Room. Source Sotheby's.

One of Peapack's Bedrooms. Source Sotheby's.

House rented by Jackie in Peapack area in 1965. Purchased in 1974. Source Newswire photo.

House rented by Jackie in Peapack area in 1965. Purchased in 1974. Source AP Wire.

From Chris Dans - Description of Peapack Property:

 

You can see the rectangular outline of the pool to the right of the house in line with the roof. The "deep" end of the pool is directly above that tree that appears white on the front lawn to the right of the house. This really shows how small the pool was. I doubt it was more than 20' x 12'.

 

That door at the front of the house led to the entrance hall, but really wasn't used. You can see there really wasn't a path leading to that entrance - just a lawn and a stoop.

 


The functional entrance was in that part of the house with the flat roof on the left side near the circular parking area. That dark area in the middle of the flat roofed area led to a mud-room/laundry room where there were racks that held riding boots and riding caps and a kitchen was in the front of the house. Just inside the house from that mud room was a sitting area/den that had a glass coffee table with picture books on it.

 


The caretakers house was to the right of the tree in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Jackie's bedroom was fairly large. It was the room upstairs with the window in the dormer on the right. The kid's rooms were to the left upstairs.

 


The window below the dormer was the dining room. The living room was at the back of the house behind the dining room. You can see the chimney for that living room fireplace at the back of the house. The dining room (on the side nearest the entry foyer) had some French Provincial cabinets and tables that were from the late 1700's. The wood was cracked in some places. It was painted a light yellow rather than stained. Jackie clearly decided to not "restore" these pieces, but to keep them in their original condition

There were no stables on Jackies own property. I believe she boarded her horses nearby (possibly at the "Busch family next door").

The trout stream was just off the dirt/gravel driveway about 75 yards on the right side of the picture in a heavily wooded area. Sorry, I don't remember if the road had a name."

 

Another Jackie Peapack rental in the 1970s (photo by Ron Gallella)

Peapack Stories and Photos by Chris Dans

The Peapack Pool 1980 (Chris Dans photo)

From Chirs Dans: "Really. No kidding. This is me (Chris Dans) and Paula Cunha sitting beside the remarkably austere swimming pool at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' getaway in Peapack, NJ. This was shot in the summer of 1980. My Portuguese Girlfriend and her parents were close friends

with Celestino Esteves, the caretaker of the estate. He and his family lived in a

small house of their own on the property, but when we visited we were able to use

all the facilities. This included sitting in her living room with 200 year old painted

french furniture and reading her numerous coffee table books. The house and decor

was surprisingly simple though, but thoroughly comfortable. It was a Colonial

that's actually smaller than the average McMansion Toll Brothers builds today.

The austerity is evidenced in the picture by the chicken wire fence surrounding the

very small pool.

I don't remember seeing any pictures of JFK or Ari Onassis on display, but there

were some cool pictures of Caroline and John Jr. riding horses in the area

where they kept their riding boots and caps."

The Peapack Pool 1980 (Chris Dans photo)

From Chris Dans: Taken in the Summer of 1979 or 1980 (with a Vivitar 110 Camera) this picture shows a girl named Paula and Elisabeth Esteves (the Caretaker's Daughter) sitting by the shallow end (it was all shallow ) of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's swimming pool. The house was in Peapack, NJ right in the heart of horse country. Obviously, this pool was just a place to cool off. It was really tiny and there were no fancy amenities. The chicken wire with steel posts required you to hop over it to gain access. The narrow patio surrounding it did not invite any glamorous people to lounge around it (there were a few ordinary steel tube and plastic strip chaise lounges on the other side of the pool from where the girls are sitting). The nicer outdoor furniture was on the patio on the nearer side of the house that either was off the Dining Room and Living Room.

Both of these girls are now in their late 30's and mid 40's now. Elisabeth was about 6 years old at the time and had no sense of who Jackie was. She had full run of the place and interacted regularly with the family. She had a Dog (a mutt) that was the calmest pet imaginable and was totally devoted to the child. Since the dog wandered freely around the property I find it hard to believe it was not also a weekend pet for Jackie and her family whenever they were in residence.

Chris Dans and friend in the Peapack Living Room 1980. Notice the pull down movie screen above the fireplace mirror (Chris Dans photo)

From Chris Dans: "Jackie's Peapack next door neighbors were members of the Budweiser Brewing (Busch) family and they, together with Jackie, used to stock this stream with tons of Trout. Tino, her caretaker used to go down there and catch most of the fish and throw them in his freezer shortly after they were stocked. On that occasion, my brother and I had one of the best day's fishing ever due to an extremely well stocked river that very few people ever fished in."

"The girl in the living room picture (above) and I went to Drew University in nearby Madison, NJ. She and her parents were very close friends with Celestino (Tino) Esteves (Jackies' Caretaker at Peapack). They were all Portuguese and lived in the tight-knit community in the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ. Tino and his family had a small house on Jackies property, but still owned a house in Newark."

Peapack Garden - view outside of Dining Room (Peter Gould - Keystone 1975)


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Steve Brawley (314) 740-0298