211 Route 31 North
Washington, NJ 07882
Pleasant Valley is one and a quarter miles southwest of the Borough of Washington, on the Pohatcong Creek. The Pleasant Valley hamlet developed around a mill on the Creek, dating to the mid-18th century. During the 1800s, the hamlet consisted of a large farm, a store, and grist-and-saw mills.
The John Sherrerd family operated the mill and farm for three generations. Known as Sherrerd's Mill (c. 1790), it supplied flour to Washington's army encamped in Morristown. John's son, Samuel, married Ann Maxwell, daughter of Captain John Maxwell of the Revolutionary Army, and brought her to Pleasant Valley. Samuel and Ann's eldest son, John Maxwell Sherrerd, became Warren County first surrogate. One of Samuel and Ann's daughters, Susan, married William Warne, who purchased the property after her father's death (1833). The mill was then known as Warne’s, then Mattison's (1865), and later, Larison's (1893).
Local entrepreneur and aviation pioneer Earle S. Eckel bought the main house, mill, farm, and dependent houses in 1926. Just before Christmas in 1929, the mill was running 24 hours, and due to lack of lubrication on the wood bearings, it caught fire and burned. Eckel rebuilt a hydro-electric power plant on the old foundation, using the water power from the millpond to create electricity. He bought the electric heaters from the trolley cars that were being scrapped, and installed them in each room of the main house, causing the house to be the earliest heated by electric.
Eckel built an Autogiro airport on the property in 1931. it was the first exclusive Autogiro airport in the U.S., and Eckel owned the first Pitcairn Autogiro. Eckel revived the millpond, and opened it to the public for skating in the winter.
Surviving are architecturally notable resources: the main house, millwright house, farmhand house, millpond and icehouse, brick mill building, wagon house, and the two Autogiro hangers.
Pleasant Valley was put on the State and National Historical Registers in March 1994.
Earle S. Eckel at his Pleasant Valley air field with one of his autogiro planes posing with two unknown girls
Mill Pond Dam Earle S. Eckel Built c1930. Mill Pond Road crosses over the dam today
Postcard of Pleasant Valley picture taken from a autogiro c1930-1940
Pleasant Valley Mill Pond and Eckle Power House. Note sign on roof for air craft pilots of the day says “Washington - 10 miles to Easton”