History of Twin Maples
Twin Maples was built in 1908 in a Neoclassical style similar to our nation’s White House, with a facade dominated by a full-height porch supported by classical columns. The house was designed by Alfred F. Norris, a well-known New York and Montclair architect. It was erected with the finest materials and details of its time.
Gustav Amsink, reputedly the “wealthiest citizen of Summit”, was the first owner of Twin Maples. He sold the property to Mr. James Foley, a prominent New York Attorney, and his wife Karoline Davis. The couple occupied the house until James’ death in 1916.
The house was then sold to Mr. and Mrs. Frederic N. Collins in 1918. Frederick Collins was president of James E. Ward & Co., steamship agents and brokers. He was known in downtown Manhattan as the “Sugar King” for bringing sugar as cargo from the Caribbean. The Collinses had one child, Lydia and conducted a lively household, entertaining extensively until Frederick’s death in 1947 at the age of 90.
Mrs. Collins sold Twin Maples to The Fortnightly Club of Summit in 1949. The house gained its historical status in 1996 and is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Lydia Collins attended Kent Place School in Summit and married Rev. Dr. W. J. de Forest. Lydia shared many memories and photographs with the club and lived in Summit until her death in 2001 at the age of 102.
During 2007-2008, the house underwent significant renovation to restore, modernize and beautify the property. Eco-friendly, energy efficient and sustainable materials and systems were utilized throughout the process. A geothermal well 450 feet below ground provides both heating and air conditioning to the main house. Each room in the main house and the Carriage House was meticulously refurbished by different decorators from the metropolitan New York area. In 2008, the grand estate opened its doors to the public for the Twin Maples Centennial Show House.
The preservation of Twin Maples continues to be an important commitment of The Fortnightly Club of Summit. Each year, Twin Maples opens its doors to the public as a featured site on Union County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend tour.