History of Twin Maples
Twin Maples is a three-story Colonial Revival estate house built in 1908. The front facade features a full-height portico supported by Ionic columns in a Neoclassical style similar to our nation’s White House. The house was designed by Alfred F. Norris, a well-known New York and Montclair architect. It was constructed with the finest materials and details of its time.
Gustav Amsinck, reputedly the “wealthiest citizen of Summit”, originally owned the land before the house was built. He sold the property to prominent New York attorney James Foley and his wife Karoline Davis. The couple commissioned the construction of the house and lived there until James’ death in 1916.
“Foley House” was then sold to Frederic N. Collins and his wife Emily Heffernan Collins in 1918. Frederic Collins was president of James E. Ward & Co., steamship agents and brokers. He was known in downtown Manhattan as the “Sugar King” for shipping sugar as cargo from the Caribbean. The Collinses conducted a lively household, entertaining extensively until Frederic’s death in 1947 at the age of 90.
The Fortnightly Club of Summit purchased Twin Maples 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, the Collinses’s only child, attended Kent Place School in Summit and married Rev. Dr. W. J. de Forest. Lydia Collins de Forest shared many of her memories and photographs of Twin Maples with The Fortnightly 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 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.