Welcome to the Jonathan Dunham House in Woodbridge, NJ, named for the first of former President Barack Obama’s ancestors to be born in America. The house is on the national and New Jersey registers of historic places and has a historical marker from the Woodbridge Township Historic Preservation Commission.
The house was originally built around 1717, according to research done in applying for the registers. Its namesake came to Woodbridge from northern Massachusetts in the second half of the 1660s. He received a land grant from the newly formed township, and built the area’s first grist mill in 1670.
Exterior walls of the house feature Flemish checker brickwork, as documented by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office for a statewide submission to the National Register in 2017. Patterned brickwork houses were included on Preservation New Jersey’s list of the 10 most endangered historic places in 2018.
Trinity Episcopal Church has used the house for its Rectory, or priest’s home, since 1873. The house was expanded and renovated before being donated to the church. Congregants at Trinity and volunteers from the local community restored the house over four years, starting in 2014.
The church celebrated the house’s 300th anniversary and the completion of the project with an open house on April 29, 2018. A tree was planted near the house in memory of Sandy Kalista, who led the restoration with her husband Steve and died suddenly eight days before the event.
An archaeological dig took place in the house’s yard on Sept. 28-29, 2019. The project turned up parts of two earlier foundations, along with a mid-1800s thimble and penny and many other historical artifacts. The dig was open to the public, and the house and Trinity Church were open for tours.