Posts Tagged ‘alpine’

Manuel Rionda’s stone tower

Related Pages:

My experience in the NJ Palisades

Old Bridge: In the woods of Creskill is a large stone bridge, which may be a part of the old Camp Merritt. A bit of research and a few emails from readers suggests this bridge is more likely a relic from the Rionda estate…..

There are tunnels and underground chambers in various places thruout the Palisades.

Hitler’s Rock Profile: A 160 ft tall profile of Hitler appeared on the cliffs of the Palisades during WWII

Complete history of the Palisades: A detailed summary of the history of the Palisades.

In an old cemetery in the Palisades is the grave of a fellow named “Whack me Jug”


Manuel Rionda was a Cuban sugar dealer who owned an estate in Alpine. Bought in 1904 with only 13 acres, by the time of his death his estate had grown to over 200 acres, running from the middle of Cresskill to the edge of the cliffs along the Palisades. Among the more notable elements of the estate was a manmade lake, and a 100+ foot stone clock tower. The path to the tower was flanked by cedars, giving the impression of royal guardsman. The tower boasted an iron elevator and was flanked by a library and a chapel.

His wife Harriet died in 1922 and he had her interred here for over 20 years. Rionda’s property was open to anyone who wanted to stroll, a sort of a public park. Rionda offered the property to the town of Alpine to become a public park, and they rejected the offer. He sold the land instead and now his property is home to the Tammybrook Country Club.

The rest of the property was sold off in pieces, and the only thing that remains is the tower. Numerous homes in the area were built from the carriage houses and satellite buildings, and as such they share the same look as the tower.

When Rionda died, his will required his wife be removed from the mausoleum, and that he and his wife be burying at Brooklawn Cemetery in Englewood where they remain to this day.

Vandals and rumors have done irreparable damage to the old tower. The ornate stained glass windows are broken out, the tower was vandalized so often it has been sealed it off completely and there is no access to the upper sections. The building still retains that old gothic, medieval church feeling, and that has led to much storytelling among the local youths who come to drink and hang out (which amazes me could go on in this clearly private prim & proper section of town). The rumor is that if you drive around it backwards (meaning counter-clockwise I guess?) three times at midnight, a woman’s ghost will appear. I’m guessing this would be his dead wife. A similar rumor says if you walk around it backwards six times, the devil appears…