UNION COUNTY — For all those interested in historic restoration and the challenges involved in saving century-old buildings, Union County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend will include a special treat this year.
On Oct. 16th and 17th, 25 historic sites across the county, many of which usually have very limited visiting hours, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
From Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, west to the Drake House in Plainfield, from the Merchants and Drovers Tavern in Rahway north to the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, homes and farmhouses, some dating back to the Revolutionary War, will all welcome visitors during the annual event.
One of the more popular stops for many is the Deserted Village of Feltville/Glenside Park, where a major historic renovation project is underway at Masker’s Barn.
Some of the other special events and exhibits planned for the weekend include:
• The Osborn Cannonball House in Scotch Plains presents “Ragtime to Jazz,” featuring Edwardian Era fashions, and ragtime music recorded on wax cylinders played on an antique gramophone
• The Dr. William Robinson Plantation of Clark celebrates the heritage of Native Americans featuring teepees, dress, drumming and dancing
• The restored 1889 historic Wisner House at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Summit will be open, as will the 10 acres of gardens
• The Miller-Cory House Museum in Westfield will feature 18th century folk music as costumed interpreters recreate the daily chores and seasonal farm work of rural life, circa 1740-1820;
• The Woodruff House/Eaton Store Museum in Hillside is hosting a mini apple festival.
• The Crane-Phillips Museum in Cranford celebrates Four Centuries of “The Little House on the Rahway.”
• At the Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum in Rahway, there will be a Pumpkin Patch Harvest Festival. Visitors can also walk over to the adjoining graveyard to see the gravesite of Abraham Clark, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The 25 sites open to the public free of charge during “Four Centuries in a Weekend” are grouped into five historic themes that describe periods of major changes from colonial times until the early 1920s. Visitors can select a cluster of sites to tour, or mix and match from all 25 locations that include the grand homes of the early aristocracy; the settings for the dangerous war years during the American Revolution; modest examples of hard farm life; the entrepreneurial spirit of Commerce and Industry; and the grandeur and comfort of the Victorian Resorts and Suburbs.
Copies of the Historic Sites Tour booklets containing brief descriptions of the sites and illustrated maps can be obtained by contacting the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth NJ 07202. Telephone: 1-908-558-2550 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
THIS OLD BARN…at Union County’s Deserted Village is undergoing a major restoration as part of an effort to preserve the historic building. During Four Centuries In a Weekend visitors will be able to see the barn, which has been fenced off, and talk to the contractors about the project. The Deserted Village is one of 25 historic sites across Union County that will be open to the public Oct. 16 & 17.
INSIDE AND OUT…Maskur’s Barn at Union County’s Deserted Village is getting a complete overhaul from the foundation to the roof. The barn was built in the mid-19th century as part of a milltown founded by David Felt. After being sold by Felt, the village wasted away and became deserted, but was reborn in 1882 as Glenside Park, a summer resort, which closed in 1916. The barn is the second major restoration project undertaken at the village in recent years. The church/general store was restored several years ago.
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