Tour Tommy Dorsey’s Beautiful “Tall Oaks” Home

The current owners of bandleader Tommy Dorsey’s home, fell in love with Tall Oaks the first time they saw it. They completed a careful and loving restoration of this magnificent home in 2000, being careful to maintain the look and feel of the era during which the home was built.

This is a home that envelops you in a big ol bear hug. It exudes warmth and coziness which is truly amazing since the rooms are all quite large. It’s convinced me that any home, no matter the size, can feel warm and inviting.

It has a grand porte-cochere at its entrance, great for keeping dry on rainy days when arriving back home from errands.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


This stately Georgian-style mansion is located at 200 Old Army Road in Bernardsville, New Jersey. It sits upon Bernardsville Mountain and backs up to a 276 acre wildlife sanctuary. As if that wasn’t wonderful enough, its mountain top location provides a view of the New York skyline!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


Tommy Dorsey lived and entertained here during the peak of his career from 1935 to 1944. The grand entrance hall runs all the way from the front of the home to the back. The home has beautiful heart pine floors on all three levels.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Entry Foyer


This home is not decorated for the minimalist. There’s an abundance of warm, rich colors and a lot of mixing of patterns. They all work beautifully together and as we tour this wonderful home, there is so much to be learned by just observing how the furniture is arranged and how different patterns are combined and mixed to create inviting spaces.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


You’ll also see a fair amount of wallpaper. Look at the beautiful detail on the fireplace mantel and the heart pine flooring. Sooo beautiful! Great chandelier!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Dining Room


I absolutely love the kitchen because it’s so different from the kitchens of today. The cabinetry looks original, doesn’t it? I’ve never seen stainless cabinets before, have you? I wonder if those were here when Tommy Dorsey lived here. The roosters, the pot rack covered in copper pots and baskets and the farmhouse table give the kitchen a French country feel.

See the little pass-through area on the left? It opens up to the butler’s pantry on the other side. We’ll go in there in just a second. You’re going to love it!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Kitchen


A view of the other end of the kitchen. The wall on this end of the kitchen was opened up with floor-to-ceiling windows and a French door leading out to the terrace.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Breakfast Room


Such a fabulous butler’s pantry! I love, love, love the glass-door cabinetry and the plaid wallpaper! I also really like the soft color the cabinets are painted. It looks great with the plaid wallpaper and kind of picks up the lighter stripe in the wallpaper. I wonder where those little doors underneath the cabinet go? I guess they open up to the kitchen. Okay, I just scrolled back and I think there are drawers on the other side which makes me wonder why they have doors there. Ummm, a mystery!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Butler's Pantry


This is one of my favorite rooms in this home. I think it’s a small den just off of the kitchen. I love the raspberry red wall color! I see a fire aglow in the fireplace. Notice the wonderful old windows with transoms.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


I’m not sure where this room is in the home. It seems to be a mirror image of the one we just saw so maybe they are across from each other. It has a more masculine feel so perhaps they are his and her parlors or sitting rooms.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


I have never seen paisley wallpaper before but I love how it looks here! On second thought, I guess that’s not a paisley pattern, but it really reminds me of paisley. I was thinking as I toured this home, if I ever renovate my downstairs powder room and have to replace my pheasant wallpaper, I would consider going with either plaid or paisley wallpaper after seeing this home. One of the bathrooms in this home has plaid wallpaper and it looks great! I think that bath is only visible in the video tour of this home so I’ll link to the video at the end of this post so you can see it.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


The staircase in this home is wonderful! Love that brass chandelier!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Staircase


Notice how there are windows on the landing…keeps it light and bright.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


Notice how the runner on the stairs actually continues for a little ways at the top of the stairs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done before.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


The master bedroom has two baths and two dressing rooms. The rich wood tones and warm colors in this big room give the room a cozy feeling despite its large size. As I look at this home, it gives me the same feeling that the home in the movie, Home Alone always gives me. Just feels like a real home.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Bedroom On Bernardsville Mountain


One of the two dressing areas off the master bedroom.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain 12


I wish the tour took us into all 6 bedrooms…at least we get to see one more. Love the fireplaces in the bedrooms! Just imagine decorating them all for Christmas! I would be in mantel-decorating heaven with 7 mantels to decorate! 🙂

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


There are two master baths. The home has 5 full baths and 4 half-baths. Definitely no waiting for a bathroom in this home!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Bathroom


I’m guessing this room is on the lower level. It’s appears to be a rec room of sorts.

Living Room Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain 08


Notice the coffered/beamed ceiling. More gorgeous heart-pine floors!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home Billard Room


I wonder if this was once a porch. Looks like it would make a great mudroom!

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


Lots of great areas for entertaining.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Porch


Since this home sits atop Bernardsville Mountain, it has wonderful views overlooking the skyline of New York.

Tommy Dosey Tall Oaks Home On Bernardsville Mountain


I’ll leave you with this evening view…such a beautiful home!

Tony Dorsey's Home In New Jersey


Take a 3-minute video tour of the home (complete with Tommy Dorsey music) and hear the current owners describe the home in THIS VIDEO. I loved hearing when Tommy Dorsey lived here, the neighborhood children would sneak up the driveway to listen to the music being created.  Some of the views of the home in the video (like this one below) are really wonderful. ~~~sigh~~~



You’ll find additional pictures of this home at Turpin Realtors.

Thanks so much for all your input yesterday regarding if I should move the tree we planted back a couple of feet. I will let you know what I end up doing. You made some great points and I appreciate all the wonderful suggestions and advice!

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  1. Wow…. There are so many elements about this home I love! I read the listing on it just in case I’m suddenly in the market to buy it! I’m so in love with that wall clock in the entryway among other things like that fabulous master bedroom! Sigh… Love the location, the fabulous driveway and all the exterior plantings- just my style!

    • It is amazing, Liz! I could not wait to share it today. I just love how warm and inviting it feels inside…you could really live in this home! Please buy it so I can come see you! 🙂

  2. Linda Page says

    Most of the time there will be something in the tour house that I don’t care for. But not this house! Everything is perfect. This is one of the most livable houses that you have featured. I love everything! Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Peggy Thal says

    Gorgeous and fantastic home. Really enjoyed touring this great home of Tommy Dorsey. So beautifully decorated. I am still in love with wallpaper. I used to have each room in wall paper in my old home. Now I just have a few rooms and bathrooms. A room always looks so finished in wallpaper. Love the pot rack. Used to have that with shiny copper pots. Now they are put away and not as shiny. What a beautiful large pantry too. Great bedrooms with fantastic views. All the home is missing is a pool! Thanks Susan for the beautiful tour.

    • Peggy, I remember many years ago when I was a newly married visiting a home with my husband and every room in the home was wallpapered. It must have been back when wallpaper was really popular. I loved it…made me want to go home and wallpaper every room in my home! I still love it, just don’t like removing it although if the walls are primed properly, it isn’t that bad. Are copper pots hard to keep polished? I guess they get tarnished from use. I’ve never had any and always wondered if they were a pain to keep polished/shiny.

  4. What a stately home Susan! I love the architectural details, and the grounds are simply stunning!

    I checked the listing info and it looks like that rec room might actually be on the second floor, (unless there’s another pool table). They call it the ‘blue’ room although I don’t see much blue. I have a feeling that might be the original cabinetry in the kitchen. The listing doesn’t mention that the current owners did anything to this room (although admittedly one of the previous owners might have). I think the stainless cabinets are very interesting, and definitely something not seen every day.

    Considering the size, history and location, the asking price is less than I would have expected. I’m off to break my piggy bank now…

  5. Love love love!! Such a stunning home…I kept scrolling up and down to make sure I didn’t miss one single detail!

  6. Many today do not like wallpaper, but I think it is gorgeous in this beautiful home. You’re right… it is so wonderfully homey!

  7. Regality (aka The Quing) says

    Wow! Just WOW! I even love the rugs, which is unusual for me, because so often rooms are well decorated and then a completely out of place rug is plunked down on the floor. These all make ultimate sense. Wowie wow wow!

  8. WOW, Susan!
    My first thought when I saw the picture of that house was: “WHAT?! Did Susan secretly extend her house last night?!” Seriously, that house looks like an older and bigger sibling of your wonderful home as especially its exterior and its front porch remind me a lot of yours! Ha! 🙂
    I love, love, love (almost) everything about that house, I wish I could check out every room personally! (I would even dust it voluntarily, when needed… lol) Okay, but truth be told, I would only replace those stainless cabinets in the kitchen… not a lover of fingerprints everywhere, here. 🙂
    Oh, I almost forgot to say, for the price they request for that dream home I have seen houses here in Germany, which are shacks compared to it! Seriously! (Don’t ask why… I have no idea… it must be the beer they drink here! lol)
    ~Hugs to you~

    • Ha! Now that would take a BIG extension! 🙂 Wow, so houses in Germany are a lot more expensive? I am surprised that one wasn’t more than it was with it’s location and history. I’d love to have a home that backed up to a protected area like that! Just imagine all the wildlife and birds!

  9. Carolyn Price says

    Gorgeous home! Yes, the butler’s pantry is to die for! I think the doors there are only a decorative distraction because the vent in the floor had to be placed in its current position in front of them, maybe? Just a guess on my part ….

    • Carolyn, I bet you’re right! I love that butler’s pantry too! Didn’t you love the red plaid wallpaper…must be someplace in my home I can squeeze in some plaid wallpaper. 🙂

      • Carolyn Price says

        I did love the red wallpaper in there. Maybe you could do some plaid wallpaper in a guest half bath? Maybe just an accent wall? : )

  10. Susan — totally off topic but would you provide the recipe for the yellow paint you love please.

  11. I could pack my toothbrush and clothes and walk right into my house. I love all of it! I love comphy elegant “homes.”

  12. I loved sharing this post with a dear friend whose mother sang in Tommy Doresy’s Band as a lead female singer for many years. I knew she would enjoy the connection. Thanks Susan. Outstanding home!

  13. I AM IN L*O*V*E!!! I would never complain about anything ever again…perfection!! franki

  14. Wow…..there’s not one single detail that I don’t love in this stately home!! As you said, warm and inviting for such a large home. Love the pantry and outdoor living spaces and……..have always loved heart pine floors. Really very American!! What a treasure, thanks for the tour!!

    • Thanks, Cleo…I couldn’t wait to share this one! Those floors are amazing! I wonder if it’s even possible to come by heart pine anymore. They use to reclaim it from the rivers where it had fallen off barges many, many years ago when the logs were being transported. Not sure there’s any left to reclaim now…which makes the old homes with heart pine flooring that much more special.

  15. crumpety cottage says

    Absolutely gorgeous. I love the staircase, the butler’s pantry and the entry foyer the most. The grounds and views are sensational. But the property taxes are 35K a year!!! A year! I wonder if they’re getting their money’s worth.

  16. Me Oh Me Oh My!!! This one is a keeper Susan. It is outstandingly beautiful and comfortable. I would be in transom heaven and the butler’s pantry is wonderful. I was imagining you slipping through those small doors as you did in the Christmas House.
    I should imagine you had your eye on the grandfather clock on the wall.
    I could not find the price even though I went into the real estate listing.
    Every room was perfect and I see that one of those rooms, used to be a men’s smoking room!
    Thank you for this tour, I think we can spend our pennies on this one and there would be room for us all!!! 🙂

    • lol You know, if they opened up to the other side, I’d have to try it at least once. Some people never grow up! 😉 That clock was really unique. Did you notice how the back was designed with a cut out to fit over the chair rail. I was wondering if it was an original piece built especially for the home back in the day. I wonder which one was the men’s smoking room…maybe the one with the leather chairs and the gun cabinet. That room had a definite masculine feel.

  17. Ummmmm……..somebody created the perfect home. Sure will be crowded with all of us living there….. 🙂

  18. Beautiful home! So warm and cozy…Thanks for sharing 🙂

  19. Linda Page says

    Do you get the feeling that EVERYONE loves this home?? Wow, it seems that all of your readers are of the same mind… love with this home!! I will contribute my pennies to acquire this house for all of us readers and you! Wouldn’t we have a wonderful time. I keep reopening this edition and looking again at the rooms and finding new things to love. You did good, girl!!! Off to the dentist for a crown. Ugh! I hope everyone continues to love the Dorsey house. But then, what’s not to love?!?!

    • Linda, I sure hope your dentist visit went well…a crown beats a root canal…so there’s the up side! 🙂 Glad you loved this one. I knew I had to share it when I found it…just too awesome to not share!

  20. I’m sorry, Susan. You said that this house had a lot of patterns and color mixing. Not minimalist (made me think “cluttered). That is was bright and airy. And you said that it even so it still exuded warmth and comfort. You were spot on. It is probably the most charming house ever featured here. I’m sorry that I doubted you 😉
    Would love photos from that era of them entertaining at home. The cars! The clothes! The hairstyles!

  21. Wow! This is my favorite house tour so far! It was stately, beautiful and somehow very cozy. You can imagine fabulous parties, a family holiday or just curling up with a book. Thanks for sharing!

    Have a great day!

  22. Okay…I have another question for you Susan…I think you once mentioned a company where one can order…the part of a chandelier that holds the bulb…the “tube” part…and you had a place to get an antiqued look with candle wax drippings…or am I STILL in chandelier hell….this has become way too hard!! 🙂 franki

  23. bobbi duncan says

    Amazing home…can I at least have the butlers pantry? Please, oh, please. I agree that the house resembles yours, which was actually my first thought when I saw the picture of it. Although it is large, I find brick homes just have a cozier feel, which always seems to continue to the interior…you know what they say about first appearances and how it invites one inside. Bernardsville is another one of NJ’s lovely areas, with beautiful stately homes that NJ seems to have so many of. What a long-range view this home has! I, too, think the floor register in the pantry determined the inset, and they probably put the doors there simply to mimic the adjoining cabinetry for a more cohesive look (my take on it , anyway). Thank you, Susan , for sharing this warm and inviting home…just lovely!

  24. Hi Susan: This home was gorgeous but some of the rooms had a little bit too many patterns going on for my comfort level but all in all it is a gorgeous home. Question however. On the second floor, the room with the paisley-like wall paper there is a two-door dresser/chest on the left in the photo. To my eyes, it appears as it is only a dresser front, with no sides. Am I completely bonkers or am I missing something?

    • Peggy, you know what I think it is, I think it’s the lens on the camera making it appear that way. A lot of times photographers will use a super wide angle lens so they can get as much of the room as possible into the picture and it often distorts the room and the furniture pieces in the room. It’s the down-side of using a wide angle lens. I’m sure it’s just distorted that piece and that’s why it looks so weird.

    • The red thing (next to the brown cabinet with the doors) is a radiator cover, I think. You were talking about the brown cabinet, right? I wonder if there’s a TV inside that cabinet…it’s about the right height for that but it doesn’t face the sofa so it may not hold a TV.

  25. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA says

    Linda Page (above) took — as they say — the words right out of my mouth. It’s beautiful and so livable. I adore it. Thanks again, Susan.

  26. Sigh. Just. Sigh. 🙂

  27. Great house…hope it comes with a “staff” for upkeep, and cleaning! Many years ago when we were house hunting in Miami, we looked at an Art Deco style home that had stainless steel cabinets, and counters in the kitchen. It also had a corrugated metal, and glass block wall separating the kitchen from the dining room that someone had covered on the dining room side with drywall! Unbelievable. There were gorgeous tile mosaics of tropical birds over the bathtub, with maroon bath tiles surrounding it. We didnt buy that house but I often wonder about it.

  28. Michael Shoshani says

    The 1972 book “Tommy and Jimmy: The Dorsey Years”, by Herb Sanford, devotes an entire chapter to this house. Chapter 10 is titled “Expeditions to Bernardsville”. It includes a description of the house and life there:

    It was a twenty-eight-room house, with aroom for all. On the top floor, beside the Lionel train setup, was a dormitory. […] The bar was a fun spot, a setting for stories told by Tommy and others. […] Tommy sometimes acted as bartender, but guests could make their own. There was a phonograph and lots of records. But there was no live music on those weekends. All that was left behind. And there was no businss talk… Outside, there were tennis courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool. The pool was heated, and stayed in use until Thanksgiving time.

    The twenty-two-acre estate, as we saw it on those weekends, was developed over a period of several years. (Dorsey publicist) Jack Egan was there at the start. “I went out there,” he says, “in late ’34 or very early ’35 – the Dorsey Brothers Band was playing at the Palais Royale at the time – on a Sunday morning with Tommy and (Tommy’s wife) Toots, either just before or right after he closed the deal. We went all through it and around the property, unoccupied at the time, of course, then had dinner, just the three of us, at the Bernardsville Inn.”

    When the Dorseys moved from Freeport, Long Island, to Bernardsville, they had furnishings for only five rooms in the twenty-eight-room house. “At one point,” says Jack, “Tommy asked me to save him any furniture, especially bedroom, we might be replacing at home in Yonkers. I remember going out from the Onyx club, leaving the city at 4:00 AM, getting (to Bernardsville) at 5:00 AM, and Tommy rooting Jimmy Plunkett out of bed so I’d have a place to sleep. It was done in shifts in those days. All this in the days before he knocked out five or six rooms on the second floor wing and made it into a playroom, then later had the place landscaped, and installed the pool and tennis court.”

    The Bernardsville place had recuperative powers. Friends who became ill lodged at the Dorsey home and regained health. It was likewise good therapy for those of us who came for a weekend.

    End of excerpt. I figured your readers and the property owners might get a kick out of reading something about the house written by someone who was actually there when the Dorseys owned it.

    • That was awesome, I enjoyed that very much! Thanks for sharing it Michael. It’s so interesting hearing how it was back then. It’s a beautiful home and I’m so glad it’s being well-cared for still.

      • Michael Shoshani says

        Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! The book describes Tall Oaks as a 28 room house, while the listing describes it as 19, so some work seems to have been done on it over the decades. (Apologies for the handful of typos, btw. I was typing directly from the book and didn’t think to check my work before posting. 🙂 The few incidences of deletia are where incidental material was glossed over, since it wasn’t relevant to the house or those who were in it.)

        • I wonder if over the years a wall was torn down here and there to combine smaller rooms to make a bigger rooms. That’s so popular to do these days. That was nice of you to share that excerpt from the book! And no apologies at all needed for typos. I specialize in typos…in fact, I think I might be the Queen of Typos! 😉

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