Legacy Meets Love in a Historic Middletown Home

Historic homes have secrets to tell, if only those who enter or pass by them take the time to listen. Those who choose to become the caretakers of such history by owning and living in a historic home become part of that home’s story. The Ginda family of Middletown can take pride in adding their own chapters to this extraordinary home’s 185 year history.

Dorothy Ginda met her husband while working for a California based software company with offices in New Jersey. Both Dorothy and David have Jersey roots. Dorothy, whose maiden name is Perry, grew up in Middletown while David moved around a lot as a child, since his father was a career United States Army officer. While David was growing up, the Ginda family had live d in Alaska, Germany, Kansas and Governors Island for a time, before ending up in Ocean Township, where his father finally retired after serving at Fort Monmouth.

Dorothy had purchased a Dutch Colonial vintage home in Red Bank before David and she were married and always ha d an interest in preservation and history. She is a great fan of the writing and historical work of Pulitzer Prizewinning author David McCullough and is most interested in the people that make history come to life. The Ginda’s welcomed their first daughter Savannah into their lives in 2004 and soon started looking for a larger home to live in. David is a horse racing fan and while attending the Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs, New York, he saw a bed and breakfast housed in a classic 1873 Gothic Victorian mansion known as the Batcheller Mansion Inn. The focus soon turned to replicating the house in New Jersey.

Even though they had plans to build a new house, they kept their eye out for other properties that might be available in case their plans needed to be revised. While looking for land to realize their vision, they noticed a historic home for sale in Middletown known as the Hendrickson-Morford House, also known as Five Chimneys (for obvious reasons) and made an offer to purchase it. After a bit of haggling they became the 7th owners of one of Monmouth County’s truly historic homes. As with many historic houses their story can be told by tracing additions and researching the various owners of the property. The Ginda home is rich in architectural clues as to its transformation over nearly two centuries.

The Hendrickson-Morford house was originally built in 1830 by Daniel I. Hendrickson, of a well known Monmouth County farming family. It originally had a three-column porch and side hall interior plan. Thomas I. Morford purchased the house in the mid 1840’s. Thomas Morford , with his brothers, were highly successful business entrepreneurs in various enterprises including lumber and coal yards and a transportation company that utilized a steam ship to transport produce from Port Monmouth to New York . Thomas Morford built onto the original house, adding an eastern two-story wing requiring the addition of a fourth porch column and larger deck area. The results are so seamless and detail work so meticulously realized that it is impossible to tell, from the exterior, that this was not the way the house was always meant to be.

The Ginda family moved into their new old house in 2006 and needed to take care of some basement issues and re-building the porch deck, among other things. To say the Ginda’s are living a full life in this historic home would be an understatement. The Ginda family includes younger daughter Juliet, born in 2007, and a menagerie of farm and pet animals including a be loved family cat named Miss Anna (named for the teacher in Roger and Hammerstein’s The King and I) two goats, a number of egg laying chickens and a couple of huggable bunnies. Historic houses become historic homes when families live in them and share the joys of life together. Dorothy has given her home the unofficial moniker 4 Pillars, after t he 4 columns that support the front porch.

Her schedule and responsibility as a mother and wife rarely give her time for reflection, but every now and then while sitting on her beloved home’s porch, watching her girls play with their animals, or spending time with David in front of the wood burning fireplace on a cold winter night, she knows, just as so many have before her, that she and her family are truly home. Such are the joys of homes with history.

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16 Nov 2015

By Michael Berman