R E S S E L   H O U S E   II

Go often to the house of thy friend; for weeds soon choke up the unused path --Scandinavian Proverb

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

The Ressel House (aka House of 13 Rooms), Jackson, New Jersey

explored & photographed by: Shady

We were marveling at all we saw... antique light fixtures and linens, china and armchairs. A large handcrafted stone fireplace dominated one wall of the living room. Handsome heavy wood beams lined the ceiling and chipped flowerpots still perched on the dust-covered windowsills, their once-cheerful blooms long dead and decayed.

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

The staircase to the second floor had a very unusual design- it was enclosed by glass panes, with a French door closing off the stairs from the living room. The door was closed and cobwebby. We opened it up, and headed upstairs to check out the second floor. There we found a few rooms filled with yet more forgotten treasures: a pair of vintage ice skates, an oil painting in a gilded frame, ruffled curtains and antique furnishings. A fully-made bed looked as if someone had just climbed out of it, except that it too was covered in a film of dust.

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

A rusty old radiator sat in one corner, a crumpled handmade rug lay in another. A tiny bathroom still contained it's shower curtain, toothbrush, soap, and other accoutrements. We took one final look around upstairs, and, having finally taken a tour and count of all of it's rooms- 13, including the room leading to the greenhouse, which was inaccessible- as well as seen just about everything that was left behind, so we decided to head back down the stairs and look around outside a little more. We had seen something out behind the yard from one of the upper windows, and wanted to check it out.

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

On the way out, we noticed a big old antique safe near the entryway; the outer door was ajar, but when we peeked in, we found the inner compartment tightly locked. Who knows what could have been in there? We wondered about it as we headed down the wrought-iron railed stairs and back into the sunlight.

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

We still hadn't found anything to explain the giant greenhouses, which we could now clearly see from the back of the house as we re-entered the back yard. We had seen a glimpse of color out in the trees behind the yard, and so we headed out through the tall grass, past a large sailboat overturned in the bushes which we hadn't seen previously. A line of trees slowly came into view, and much to our surprise, we realized that we had discovered a really long, narrow, tree-lined driveway that must have lead all the way up to the greenhouses and the back of the house at one time. It was so overgrown with grass and other wild plants that it was barely recognizable. And there, midway down the driveway, sat the source of color we had spied- the rusting hulk of an old vintage car!

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

We were fascinated. This car was really old, and it looked to be a delivery wagon of some kind. One of it's doors was ripped off and lying on the ground alongside it. We could see that there was some sort of writing on it, but couldn't make it out; as we drew close, the words were barely readable- "Ressel's Florist, Bennet Mills" (above, second from right). Now it all made sense- the gorgeous landscaping... the mammoth, professional-style greenhouses, the numerous garden sheds- the floral delivery truck pulled it all together at last- this family was in the floral trade! It was really strange to see the pieces of someone's life come together like a long-lost jigsaw puzzle.

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

I have to say that this was one of my very favorite places that we have ever explored- the place had everything, including the kitchen- or some room's- sink (above, middle), which we found discarded in a meadow out behind the yard. It even had an abandoned doghouse (above, right) out back! The strangest part is that an abandoned place of such large size, complete with greenhouses, a few boats, a vintage car, numerous sheds, and a house completely filled with antique belongings and the door wide open, could be located right off of a main road on a busy intersection, just feet from a 24-hour convenience store, and yet it looked completely undiscovered, as if nobody had gone near it in ages. It just had such an air of twisted romance and mystery about it. And, to add to the mystique, it also really did have 13 rooms, just like they said... I mean, what more could you ask for??

As you guys can prolly tell, I really, really fell in love with this place. I was even tempted to take some of it home with me (like that ballerina!), but I never do that, so of course I resisted temptation! So, imagine my horror when, just the very next day after discovering this hidden gem, I was at the store next door and looked over toward the place, only to see the corner where it had all been was flattened... the house, the trees, the greenhouses, everything... demolished and reduced to a large pile of rubble in an now-empty lot.

BEFORE

AFTER

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Lost Destinations: Ressel House

Like a mirage, Ressel House, aka the House of 13 Rooms, was gone almost as suddenly as it appeared, quietly and without a trace. I almost would have thought I dreamed this place... except for the fact that I had the pictures. It actually makes me sick at heart now to think of everything that was destroyed- we saw broken bits and pieces of the various antique furniture and belongings piled in the rubble (including my ballerina... waaa!). It seems they plowed it all down with everything inside, what a shame. In cases like that, if they are going to do that anyway, why not let someone come and take away the things of value to be preserved? Grr argh. It's now the site of a Century 21 Real Estate office and parking lot, ironically.

It's really sad to think of all that was lost. I am grateful that we took the opportunity to see it for ourselves when we still had the chance. R.I.P, 13 Rooms.

BACK TO RESSEL HOUSE PAGE 1

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