Standing proud since its construction in 1720, The Frazee House, located at 1541 Raritan Rd, has engrained itself as a large part of Scotch Plains-Fanwood history.
As folklore holds, Aunt Betty Frazee was baking bread in the home during the Battle of Short Hills when General Cornwallis and his hungry troops approached, asking for a loaf.
“Sir, I give you this bread through fear, not in love,” said Aunt Betty, and impressed by her courage, the General declined the food.
Passed through generations of the Frazee family, the house was eventually auctioned off and purchased by the Ryno family in 1893 and operated as a farm until 1949 when purchased by the Terry family.
Under the ownership of Franklyn Tuttle Terry and Ella Louise Terry, The Frazee House became the Terry-Lou farm, New Jersey’s largest privately-owned zoo and a famous family attraction in the Scotch-Plains-Fanwood community.
Although the house was purchased by the Kafka family in 1994, the zoo remained open until 1997 and was eventually obtained by the Township of Scotch Plains.
Over the years, the citizens of Scotch Plains watched the large part of history just wither away; however, that was until the Rotary Centennial of Scotch Plains-Fanwood stepped in and took on the task of preservation and restoration in 2005.
“Most Rotary Clubs purchase park benches or engraved bricks, we leased a house,” said Andy Calamaras, member of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Rotary Club and President of The Frazee House.
Two years later, funding began, a plethora of grants were gained, and a vision plan was created. In 2018, the Frazee House was ready to begin renovations.
“The goal is not to change the house. We wanted to keep as many of the original details as possible. It is authentic, and it is history,” said Calamaras.
Phase one began with focus on the exterior of the house. Cosmetic refurbishings including repair of the chimney, siding, windows, the foundation and the porch. This phase concluded Spring 2020.
In 2022, phase two began and is still going strong today. Restorations on the bottom level of the house are currently in the process, and an external public bathroom has been added. In doing so, the Frazee House is on the path to being open to visitation from the community. It is projected to be completed in a hopeful six months.
Phase three, the final phase, will focus on the upper level of the house and is predicted to be completed by 2026.
Once construction is concluded, furnishings will be added into the house. All will be antique furniture to uphold the historical feel reminiscent of the years the Frazee House dates back.
According to Calamaras, the ultimate goal is to have the kitchen act as a museum, and the rest of the house will be walkable to the public.
As for now, you can visit the beautiful six-acre property that the Frazee House sits on along with the Scotch-Plains community garden – or go take a peek at the ongoing process of restoration!