Fire That Destroyed Historic NJ Retreat For Celebrities Under Investigation

Authorities are investigating a fire that broke out at a historic Somerset County home once a retreat for New Jersey celebrities.

Fire companies from several towns responded to 751 River Road in Hillsborough around 4 a.m. after 9-1-1 calls came in Thursday, Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said. 

The home — which was being renovated — was nothing but a pile of rubble after firefighters extinguished the two-alarm blaze.

No injuries were reported.

Investigators from the Somerset County Fire Investigation Unit (FIU), along with detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, Hillsborough Township Police Department, and the Hillsborough Fire Marshals are investigating the cause and origin of fire.

Built in 1820s, the house was famously known as “Ellesdale Manor” and was formerly home to a state senator. It was acquired by a 1900s celebrity James “Diamond Jim” Brady, known for his outlandish spending, according to Hillsborough Mayor Doug Tomson. 

“It quickly became known as ‘Brady’s Farm,'” the mayor said in 2014, “where the cows were milked into buckets of gold. He entertained numerous celebrities of the day at his home.”

Brady died in his sleep of a heart attack on April 13, 1917, and the estate was distributed to several institutions.

The 8,600-square-foot home sold for $230,000 last January.

Responders included: Hillsborough Fire, Montgomery Fire, Manville Fire, North Branch Fire, Raritan Fire, East Millstone Fire, Elizabeth Ave Fire, Country Hills Fire, Finderne Fire, Neshanic Fire, Three Bridges Fire, Middlebush Fire, Griggstown Fire, Green Knoll Fire, Readington Fire, Hopewell Fire, Bradley Gardens Fire and EMS, Branchburg Rescue Squad, and Robert Wood Johnson ALS. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 231-7100, or the Hillsborough Township Police Department at (908) 369-4323 or via the STOPit app. 

The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.

to sign up for Daily Voice’s free daily emails and news alerts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *