Behind the Bushes Tour
March 13, 1999

Exploring Ringwood

FOLPI's Spring Behind the Bushes Tour, an annual "members only" event exploring artifacts and sites off the usual tour route, took on a new format this year with members of other associated groups invited to join the fun. Going off-site for the first time, the group explored the relationship between Ringwood Manor, traditional home of the ironmasters, and Long Pond Ironworks. Led by Martin Deeks, Historic Preservation Specialist at Ringwood Manor (and past president of FOLPI), the tour started at Long Pondıs Old Country Store, where early birds were treated to a quick walk over the ridge to the site of the 19th-century Whritenour iron mines.

The tour group, which numbered more than 50, then traveled by car caravan on the old road through the Ringwood Company property to Ringwood's Borough Hall -- which, we learned, was originally the mansion of Abram Hewitt's mine superintendent, P.R. George. Through stories and illustrations, Martin painted a picture of the original Ringwood town center where the company store and other buildings once stood. Then he conjured up Colonial-era Ringwood, pointing out the former locations of grist mills, forges and workers' houses.

At the Manor House complex we visited many of the sites of the Ringwood Ironworks which were dismantled in the 1850s to make way for Mrs. Hewitt's Victorian estate. As a special treat, Martin opened the old red house on the Manor grounds. Believed to date to the 1740s it is the oldest house in Ringwood. The house, he explained, once served as a church for the Ringwood workers, hosting both Catholic and Protestant services.

The tour concluded on the banks of the Ringwood River, which once provided the water power for forges and furnaces of the Ringwood Ironworks. It was a great day, with many revelations, and everyone had a great time.

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