First of all:
New Providence Daily Photo is one year old today! Isn’t that nice.
Hey so today was FOUR CENTURIES [website], which is a weekend where Union County opens up a bunch of its historical sites to the public, and you can go and wander around inside them, and I did, and it was cool, and this was one of them.
The Twin Maples estate, as far as I can tell, is a historical landmark because it’s old and looks pretty, not because it has a particularly interesting history.
But here is the not-so-interesting history, nonetheless:
After the mansion was built in 1908, James Foley and his wife Karoline (nee Davis) lived here until 1916, when Mr. Foley died.
His widow sold the place in 1918 to Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Collins, who lived with their one daughter until she got married (to Dr. W.J. DeForest, a Big Name in Summit) and moved out. Her parents remained in the mansion until Mr. Collins died in 1947.
In 1949, the Collins widow sold the estate to the Summit Fortnightly Club [website], a women’s organization dedicated to do-gooding. (The Summit Junior Fortnightly Club was formed 39 years after the Senior Fortnightly Club; I don’t really know why there are two of these clubs instead of one.)
So what does the Summit Fortnightly Club do with this big mansion of theirs?
Well, they have meetings. And the rent it out to choral groups and tango classes and other clubs who need a meeting space. And every once in a while, they turn it over to decorators for designer showcases, as was the case in 2008.
Click the link above to see what it looked like when it was freshly redecorated; here’s what it looks like now that the designers have taken all their lovely furniture back:
When I got a guided tour of the house, only recently renovated details were pointed out to me (sisal wall coverings! purple media room! a flat-screen TV!), and I was all “wahhhh I want history wahhhhh what’s original wahhhhh.”
The house had been redone in the 1970s or thereabouts, too, so a lot of the “historical character” (which would’ve been old and outdated and gross back then) was probably destroyed at that time. But as it turns out, several of the original floors were retained, even for this go-around, as were the neoclassical moldings. So. Not all is lost.
Summit Junior Fortnightly Club. (n.d.). “Our History.” http://sjfclub.org/history/index.cfm
[Brief interviews with historically-minded individuals whose names I did not get. (2011).]