Posts tagged ‘history’

May 16, 2013

Revolutionary cemetery

Westfield Revolutionary Cemetery

The old cemetery across the street from Westfield Presbyterian has been officially noted on the National Register of Historic Places as the “Burial Ground of the Presbyterian Church in the West Fields of Elizabethtown” since 2007.

The gate shuts out casual onlookers because the headstones are soooo old and fragile that they can fall apart if you touch them. People were buried here from 1730-1958 (give or take 10 years); if you lived in Westfield, this was the only public burial ground available to you until Fairview Cemetery opened a little over a mile up the road in 1868.

The site includes ~70 Revolutionary War veterans, three War of 1812 veterans, and eight Civil War veterans, as well as a few veterans from WWI and WWII.

Headstones in the Westfield cemetery

Originally, local residents could just select whatever random spot they liked, pick up a shovel, and bury their loved ones (at no cost). Eventually the Presbyterian church got its act together and enforced some sort of organization here.



NJ DEP – Historic Preservation Office. (2012). “New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places – Union County.” p.6. Retrieved August 31, 2012.

The Presbyterian Church in Westfield. (n.d.). “Cemetery information.”

Westfield Bicentennial Committee. (1976). “The Westfield Bicentennial Committee has designated the Revolutionary Cemetery…” (Plaque). Documented May 2013.

May 15, 2013

North End

Ocean Grove North End Pavilion, May 2013

Depending on your source, the North End Pavilion may or may not be a remnant of Ocean Grove’s 1911 North End Hotel complex.

North End Hotel, Ocean Grove

North End Hotel. Image from the Ocean Grove Historical Society.

In 1938, the hotel suffered a brutal fire, and its pier was swept away by a winter storm, but the overall structure kept standing… until it was demolished in 1978.

I don’t know whether the remaining North End Pavilion structure (such as it is, after Sandy; until now, it’s always held a variety of quaint beach shops) is a recreation of the original North End Hotel, or a façade of the original. Any shore residents want to weigh in on this?


EDIT: My dad posited that this is definitely the original structure because it looks like the original. But I’ve seen cases where replicas and homages of historic buildings are erected after the original is no longer there, and I was skeptical. I did a little extra digging, though; turns out he’s right. There are some photos of the 1978 demolition on Blogfinger that show how they carefully preserved this one little section of the complex.

According to that same link (Blogfinger is a great resource for all things Ocean Grove; it’s like NPDP but way better), after the North End Hotel was torn down, the site was slated to be turned into a retirement community. Never happened, though.


P.S. The top photo also shows off Ocean Grove’s brand-new asphalt walkway. Ooh la la.

May 9, 2013

Westfield Presbyterian

Westfield Presbyterian Church

Westfield Presbyterian is the oldest congregation in Westfield— they’ve been around since the Revolutionary era. This church is actually their fourth, built in 1862.

Westfield Presbyterian, c. 1908

Westfield Presbyterian, c. 1908

Of course, things change. You’ll note that the church didn’t used to have as many side windows! (Check it— 5 vs. a modern 7.) In the 1960s, they lengthened the church:

It was split just behind the third window, the steeple end was rolled forward, and a new section was inserted. This added two windows and about 30 feet, while preserving the church’s original appearance (Lipson 1996, 32).

The White Church, date unknown (probably old)


Lipson, S.H. (1996). Images of America: Westfield: The Golden Age of Postcards. Arcadia Publishing: Dover, NH. ISBN 0752404067.

May 6, 2013

Arcanum Hall

Westfield's Arcanum Hall (during the 2013 Spring Fling)

I have a bunch of piecemeal sources that I’ve tried to assemble into a linear history, but I’m not 100% sure of any of this, so please correct me if you know I’m wrong.

Arcanum Hall is a neat little copper-domed building in downtown Westfield on the corner of Elm and East Broad Street. It’s been there for at least a hundred years or so.

Arcanum Hall, c. 1906

Arcanum Hall, c. 1906. (From Lipson 1996, p.100.)

It’s called “Arcanum Hall” ‘cos it was built by “the Fireside Council #715 of Royal Arcanum,” which was the local chapter of a fraternity kind of like the Masons. Initially, apparently the original Arcanum Hall was a block away on a different corner (Prospect and East Broad), but that building burned down in 1892. And so the Royal Arcanum rebuilt the current hall in its current location shortly afterwards.

At the moment, the ground floor is home to Sole Italian shoes.


Fuzy III, F.A. (2011?). “The history of Westfield; Westfield historical information; Interesting facts.” Tamaques Elementary.

Lipson, S.H. (1996). Images of America: Westfield: The Golden Age of Postcards. Arcadia Publishing: Dover, NH. ISBN 0752404067.

Philhower, C.A. (1923). History of Town of Westfield. Lewis Historical Publishing Company: New York.

Ricord, F.W. (1897, reprint 2001). History of Union County, New Jersey, Volume 1. East Jersey History Co.: Newark, NJ; reprint: Heritage Books, Inc.: Bowie, MD. Google book.

April 28, 2013

Greenwood Gardens

Greenwood Gardens: The reflecting pool terrace (minus a reflecting pool, currently)

Greenwood Gardens, near Old Short Hills Park, is usually an admission-only space, but they opened it to the public for free today. (Who doesn’t like free things?)

Greenwood Gardens: Main house and main lawn

In 1906, Joseph P. Day purchased 80 acres of land in Short Hills and called it “Pleasant Days.” The original house on the property was destroyed by a fire in 1911, so Day built a huge Italianate mansion in its place. By the time the property was purchased by the Blanchards in 1949, the 1911 mansion “had deteriorated significantly,” so it was replaced by the modest Georgian Revival mansion you see here (“modest” my foot).

And, y’know, if you’re gonna purchase a large estate and call it your own, you might as well call it by a name YOU prefer, like “Greenwood Gardens” (because, really, “Pleasant Days?” that’s like so 1910s, OMG, really) so there was THAT.

Greenwood Gardens: Garden of the Zodiac

In 2000, a Blanchard descendent began working with the Garden Conservancy to establish Greenwood Gardens as a nonprofit public garden and conservation organization. They’re in the process of fully restoring everything to its glory, but (in my humble opinion) it looks pretty good now.


Greenwood Gardens. (n.d.). “Garden Guide and Walking Tour.” (Pamphlet).

April 26, 2013

Tokens of a bygone era

Historical stuff!!!

Remember the Wick House? Seems like only yesterday.

Sometimes the Wick House is open to the public. When it is, they have it set up as they think it might’ve been during the 1779-1780 encampment. The table above is supposed to be a bunch of maps and stuff that General Arthur St. Clair might’ve laid out when he was planning an attack or whatever generals do.

April 25, 2013

Wick House

Wick House! Jockey Hollow, Morristown, NJ (formerly the Tempe Wick House, I think)

HISTORY TIME!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the Wick House.

It was built by Mr. Henry Wick around 1750 (possibly 1752 exactly), and is currently preserved within the Morristown National Historical Park.

That would be cool in and of itself, but during the Revolutionary War, Continental soldiers loitered around the Wick Farm from 1779-1782, chopping down 600 acres of Mr. Wick’s trees, and made themselves at home IN his home (this house) during the winter encampment of 1779-1780.

…Well, SOME soldiers (officers) hung out in his house. Most soldiers had to make do with makeshift huts.

There’s a lot of talk of Major General Arthur St. Clair using the house as a headquarters during that time. (I’d never heard of him, but maybe you have.)

…And then there’s the Legend of Tempe Wick. According to the story, Tempe (Henry Wick’s daughter) was out riding her horse when some soldiers tried to commandeer it; Tempe was like “screw you,” galloped the horse back home, and stashed her steed inside the main house. The soldiers eventually followed her back to the house, but found themselves stumped because obviously horses aren’t found in houses. And thus the horse was saved.

I must’ve read this next part on a sign board somewhere and neglected to document the sign, so I can’t verify this information—but in recent years, I believe the accuracy of the story is unverified, so they’re not promoting it as hard truth anymore. As such, the former “Tempe Wick House” is now called simply the “Wick House.” Regardless, there’s still a Tempe Wick Road in Morristown.


Aaaaaand this is what the building looked like many years ago (specifics unknown, but apparently it’s from an old Water Company brochure):

Wick House, back when it was still called the Tempe Wick House.

Oh, and because I put an “architecture” tag on this post: apparently it’s a Cape Cod. There ya go.



National Park Service. (n.d.). “Jockey Hollow.” Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey. (2008?). “Wick House: The Revolutionary War in North Jersey.”

“The Wick Farm.” Information plaque near Wick House. Morristown, NJ. Documented April 2013.

Williams, J.M. (1996). Images of America: Morristown. Arcadia Publishing: Dover, NH. ISBN 0752402072.

April 16, 2013

Former hut

Charred ends of the cabin

So remember those K-RA-ZY exciting soliders’ huts I was talking about yesterday? There are five huts in a tight little arrangement: four in a row, and one (an officers’ hut?) behind the rest, which is the one I showed you yesterday.

…Well, there WERE four in a row, before one burned to a crisp from the inside out.

Burned-up solder hut

I don’t know exactly when it happened— there’s no charred smell, so it can’t have been too recent, but there’s still yellow tape all around (tho’ it’s starting to come down). My totally uneducated guess is somewhere between 6 months-2 years ago.

Burnt to a crisp! Damn fires.

I also don’t know WHAT happened. The hut is clearly burned from the inside out; neighboring huts exhibit wax dribbles (presumably from candles?). Maybe a candlelight Boy Scout outing went awry?

April 15, 2013


totally officer material, check it out

In Morristown National Historical Park, there are some replicas of huts that soldiers would’ve stayed in during the Continental Army’s winter encampment of 1779-1780 (oddly enough, called, on the map, “soldiers’ huts”).

Each log-cabin hut has a 14’x16′ floor (roughly) and would’ve housed 12 soldiers.

They were pretty cramped. It was a lousy winter, by all accounts.


P.S. Here’s where Morristown National Historical Park is (link to a Google map):
Morristown National Historical Park map

Also here are links to trail maps (it’s connected to the Lewis Morris Park):
* Jockey Hollow
* NJ Brigade map
* Morristown Historical Park in context of Morristown
* Lewis Morris Park in color (PDF)
* Lewis Morris Park in less color (JPG suitable for printing B/W)



National Park Service. (n.d.). “Plan your visit,” Jockey Hollow.

Parsons, E. (n.d.). “Jockey Hollow (Morristown) – Soldiers’ Log Huts.” Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Art & Architecture of New Jersey.

Purdes, J. (2003-2003). “Jockey Hollow.” Hiking in New Jersey.

Skylands Visitor. (2008?). “Morristown National Historical Park: The Great Story.”

March 5, 2013

Mindowaskin bridge


I don’t know what Mindowaskin Park was before it was Mindowaskin Park. It’s pretty well established that (a) the park was established in 1918, (b) there was some debate leading up to its development, and (c) it was named after “one of the four Indian chiefs who deeded the lands now comprising northern New Jersey (Lipson 1996, 58).”

But with a fancy footbridge like this, I dunno, I thought the park was built from a leftover estate. Maybe Mindowaskin Park was simply established during a time when little community parks deserved the very best.

Mossy bridge indeed.



Lipson, S.H. (1996). Images of America: Westfield: The Golden Age of Postcards. Arcadia Publishing: Dover, NH. ISBN 0752404067.

Philhower, C.A. (1923). History of Town of Westfield: Union County, New Jersey. Lewis Historical Publishing Company: New York. (PDF).

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