The Abandoned Hofheimer Grotto in Warren, New Jersey

Long story short: there was a guy named Nathan Hofheimer who had a copper mine in Warren, NJ. When the copper mine gave up all the copper it could, Hofheimer filled it with water and surrounded it with a semi-circular, multi-level structure made from rocks pulled from the mine, creating the impressive and eponymously named, Hofheimer Grotto. More info about the copper mine on

Grotto Plaque


The Grotto is currently the property of Elks Lodge 885. It’s open to the public and can be found at 99 Bardy Rd, Warren, NJ, nestled in the woods on the Elks Lodge property.

Sadly, the Grotto has fallen into disrepair. People throw tires, shopping carts, picnic tables, and every kind of trash you can imagine into the Grotto orifice — masks, vape cartridges, dental floss picks, blue bags filled with canine excrement, beer bottles, pizza boxes, Monster energy drink cans — it’s all in there. On top of the garbage, the Grotto is overgrown with all manner of weeds, including the thick-trunked Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which attract the lousy Spotted Lantern Flies that parasitize them. The water in the Grotto is stagnated and green. It doesn’t smell bad though, which is good.

Regardless of the decay, the Hofheimer Grotto is worth checking out. I climbed its Roman coliseum-like structure and chilled for about 30 minutes. Greeted dog-walkers as they entered the park. It was nice.

South-east of the Grotto, you’ll find the Hofheimer Cemetery. I found the Mausoleum, which was totally desecrated, slathered with spray paint, and had a collapsed roof. I walked the nearby trails and saw some mounds that looked human-body-sized.

Hofheimer Cemetery

So what can be done?

I’ve read that part of the problem is getting power to the Grotto to power lights and a fountain to keep the water from stagnating. Allegedly, Warren Township and the Elks need to cooperate on this, and they can’t agree on a path forward. Maybe, solar to make everyone happy? Then get a team of volunteers from the Lodge, a wood-chipper, chainsaws, and a dumpster, and get rid of the brush. Pump put the water. Fix or put in the fountain. Put in some lights. Rainbow LED fountain lights. Make it safe for families. Fix up the cemetery. I’m willing to help.

Comment (1)

  1. There is no Hofheimer Cemetery. Just the Mausoleum. All family members were intered there until the estate was sold to the town of Warrenville. I was raised in Warren when it was called Warrenville, and watched the steady decline of first the mansion, which any of we kids could enter and roam through at will, and then the Mausoleum. The Mausoleum was auctioned off for the princely price of $1.oo, with the understanding that it be removed within a set period of time. As can be seen, only one granite roof slab was moved. The roof cannot colapse, because the roof slabs are too thick and solid for that to occur, at least when I last saw the Mausoleum. The doors were huge, bronze and beautiful. There were marble benches up against the walls, flower vases, and only two of the crypse had been broken into. It is disgusting what vandles will do out of disrespect for the property of others! The coach house and servants quarters is another story in itself. We used to play inside it as young kids, and it was spooky as all get out! It had a ballroom that was two stories tall. All of the servants rooms were dark and very dirty indeed. There was a butlers outfit hanging in the basement area that went missing when I worked on the road department. Strange things seemed to happen in that building, or it was just young imaginations gone wild! I do know one thing for sure. At one time, we entered the ballroom, and hanging on the back wall were swords, shields, and a variety of spears. Some time after the road department took over the basement level, those wall hangings went missing. Someone in town knows where that stuff ended up. It should all be in a town museum! One interesting thing did happen in that coach house that brings back fond memories. When I was in the boy scouts, the town had a disaster drill in the coach house and my troop,(troop 28) was used as victims. It was in the evening, very dark, and very, very, spooky. “Things that go ‘bump in the night”. When I was a kid, there was a horse drawn buggy in what was the first floor garage, and a horse drawn fire apparatus. That all went missing too. All sounds gloomy, but all brings back wonderful pictures of growing up in Warren Township, Plainfield New Jersey it was called as a mailing address. Like I said, wonderful images of a lost countryside.

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