Bald Hill Association
(Excerpt from “Reflections of Denville” by Charles M. toeLaer – 1988)
Bald Hill, being 908 feet above sea level and some 350 feet above Cedar Lake, was an excellent lookout point for the colonial militia to warn of the oncoming British troops. General George Washington sent a troop of mounted cavalry to stand watch at Pigeon Hill (now Union Hill) and a troop of infantry to Bald Hill overlooking the lake.
Click on “Cedar Crest” link to the right to learn of Dr. George Donaldson who did so much to develop lodges on the lake and on the hill. He created his own lodge, Cedar Crest, on the highest point of Bald Hill with a perfectly wonderful view of the lake and points east from his porch as well as a clear view of the valley stretching westward from his front door.
These retreats were isolated because of a lack of water and an equal lack of adequate roads — and that’s the way the early pioneers to this craggy hill wanted it. About 14 years after Donaldson built the first house, a group of Bald Hill property owners met on March 22, 1924 in the City of New York at the office of Leroy J. Ellis on 42 Street to organize the Bald Hill Association. Attending were: George Donaldson, L. J. Ellis, William Storey, L. T. Tetzer, L. I. Mott, J. B. Baker, A. K. Leon, G. Sayman, and Mrs. Wallace. In December 1935, a certificate of incorporation was issued by the State of New Jersey for the Bald Hill Association.
(The first houses built on Bald Hill were in 1910 when five homes were put up: L. Ellis (Peter Pan, torn down), Hix (Dwyers), Welsch (Ruth Welch) and George Donaldson (Cedar Crest). In 1912-13, two more were built: Ownes-Dethrige (Roy Thorpe) and Baker (Sitzman-Horan).
In marking the 50th anniversary of the formation of Bald Hill Association in 1974, members noted that to establish an easier grade, the present road from the water tank location to the stone gate post was built across property of Geo. Donaldson. To differentiate from “Hillcrest Drive,” which runs along the crest of the hill to Baker’s house, this new road was known as “Donaldson Drive.” This portion of the road is still owned by bordering property owners.
In 1914-15, five more structures were built: Daley (burned). Boulder (burned), Decker (A. Cook), Shotwell Garage (Warwick-Levine), Leon (Antonides, Essop, McLauglin) and Jaffa (Houston). The 1916-18 period saw a good deal of construction on the hill: Ling (Simmons), Fetzer (Breach), Seyman (Costine), Burdette (Carney), Griswald (Phillips), Ellis (Shenendoah), Towers (Lasky), Mott (Post), Baker (Newman), Hix (Hampers) and McMillan (Hepner). In 1929, McCance built a home. That was the year the Township Water Company took over the “Diamond Spring” Water Company which had been formed by Geo. Donaldson many years earlier. He had water pumped up from a spring to a reservoir directly below the hill and north of the lake. The following year, 1930, electricity was extended to Bald Hill. Burns built a home in 1933 (now Debus) and George Hall (now Mattes) in 1935.