Photo of the Andrew M. Hopper Homestead

 

With the end of the Revolutionary War and resulting independence, the country began to develop new building styles based on changing European fashions. One such style was the Adam Style of architecture, which was established in America by wealthy merchants along the New England seacoast. It takes its name from the three Adams brothers who, in the twenty years from 1760 to 1780, had the biggest architectural practice in England. Thus, what was formerly called the Federal Style of architecture has recently become "the American phase of the English Adam Style."

The Adam Style was at its most popular in the United States from 1780 to 1820, but it persisted locally until circa 1840. This was true in spite of the dominance of the Greek Revival Style from 1830 until 1860, during which period its popularity led it to be called the National Style.

Many of the architectural elements of the Hopper Homestead, which was probably built in the mid-1830s, are Adam Style. The side-gabeled roof, the addition of projecting wings, the bracketed cornice on the south side of the main structure with the brackets extending into the east and west cornice returns, the double hung windows with thin muntins aligned horizontally and vertically and the clapboard siding with narrow corner boards are all features of the Andrew M. Hopper Homestead and are typical Adam.

On the other hand, the wide unadorned frieze on the front of the main structure is more closely related to the Greek Revival Style. Additionally, earliest pictures of the Hopper Homestead show a first-story three-bay veranda on the south side of the main structure that extends across the south side of the east and west wings and includes tapered square columns with Doric capitals, a common feature in Vernacular Greek Revival homes. Remodeling at some later date resulted in the square columns being replaces with slender, tapered round columns.

Certainly no one today can know for sure, but it is believed that the Hopper Homestead possesses the above-mentioned architectural elements because it was constructed during the waxing and waning of two dominant architectural styles.

The Andrew M. Hopper Homestead is significant in the early agricultural settlement of Montvale. The family of Michael Hopper and his descendents lived in Montvale for nearly two hundred years. The Grand Avenue property was purchased by Michael for his son, Andrew, in 1833. It is a unique house in the history of Montvale, as it is the only house still remaining in the Borough that was owned and occupied by one family for over 160 years. Four generations of the Hopper-Dickson family have lived in the old farmhouse.

The added-to appearance of the Hopper Homestead reflects the continuing occupancy through the 19th and 20th centuries by descendents of one family, often, as in this case, occupied by several generations of a family at the same time. The large two-level barn also reflects the added-on appearance of an agricultural homestead which gradually expended over the years. Together with the other outbuildings … a garage, a well enclosure and a two-seater privy … the property represents the best example of a 19th century farm homestead still existing in Montvale.

The house evidently never had a porch platform across the front, but only a stoop with side seats by the door. Two outside entrances to the cellar were placed beneath the outer windows of the first floor, the one to the east now being closed. For many years, the roof was unbroken by dormers, and the second floor remained an open attic. A small center dormer was installed before the 1930s, and the present arrangement of three windows some years later when the attic was renovated into bedrooms.

The cellar has large hewn beams averaging from 8 to 9-1/2 inches in height and between 7 and 8 inches in width, all in a near-perfect state of preservation. The fireplace supports at each end are identical in form and size. Most of the beams extend from the front wall to the rear wall with a large cross beam, braced with upright supports, under the division between the front and rear upstairs rooms. The original northwest first floor bedroom is now the kitchen, and the northeast bedroom recently became a computer room.