Walter Graeme Ladd and his wife, Catherine (“Kate”) Everit Macy Ladd, began to acquire land in what are now Peapack-Gladstone, Far Hills and Bedminster in April 1905. Eventually, the Ladds created one of the largest estates in the area, encompassing some 1,000 acres stretching from what is now Route 206 on the west, across the North Branch of the Raritan River on the east, and from Highland Avenue in Peapack on the north, to what is now Route 202 on the south. They named their estate “Natirar,” an anagram for the Raritan River that meanders for two miles across the property.
The Ladds’ brick forty-room Tudor-style mansion with limestone trim and slate roof, extensive oak paneling and molded plaster ceilings, was completed in 1912. The main residence, several of the principal outbuildings, and the overall lay-out and landscape of the estate were designed by Guy Lowell, a Boston-born architect who is most famous for his design of two public buildings, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (plus later additions) and the New York County Court House on Foley Square in Manhattan.
Beginning in 1908, Mrs. Ladd had provided a convalescent facility on the Natirar estate, originally at “Maple Cottage,” a large residence that once stood along Peapack Road where “deserving gentlewomen who are compelled to depend upon their own exertions for support shall be entertained, without charge, for periods of time while convalescing from illness, recuperating from impaired health, or otherwise in need of rest.”
Following Mrs. Ladd’s death, title to Natirar was conveyed to the Kate Macy Ladd Fund and the convalescent facility was relocated from “Maple Cottage” to the renovated main residence, where it operated until 1983, the fiftieth anniversary of her husband’s death. That year, in accordance with the provisions of Mr. Ladd’s will, the property was sold to Hassan II, the King of Morocco. King Hassan died in 1999 and Natirar was inherited by his son, Mohammed VI. In 2003, Somerset County purchased the estate from Mohammed VI.