KENILWORTH – Visitors to Kenilworth’s historic Oswald J. Nitschke House (c. 1880) at 49 South 21 Street on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20 will have an opportunity to see the newly restored and furnished home of the late Mayor Oswald J. Nitschke (1867-1934), who made significant contributions to the development of Kenilworth in the early 1900s.
Tours of the site, focused on the interpretive period 1905-1934, will be given between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Oct. 19 and from noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 20, during Union County’s annual historic sites tour, “Four Centuries in a Weekend.” Admission is free.
Attendees will be able to view the fine craftsmanship that is evident in the carefully restored walls, ceilings, floors and faux-grained woodwork throughout the Nitschke House. Additionally, they will have an opportunity to see the building’s recently completed cultural arts center; to view a photographic exhibit chronicling the history of the Kenilworth Volunteer Fire Department, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year; and to learn about the Nitschke House heirloom gardens, which include plants that were prevalent in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
Kenilworth Girl Scouts will be participating in various aspects of the weekend event.
For further information, call 908-709-0434.
Funding for certain aspects of the “Four Centuries in a Weekend” program at the Nitschke House is being provided, in part, by the Kenilworth Municipal Alliance Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
The Kenilworth Historical Society saved the Nitschke House in 2003 by moving it to its present location. Its project to restore the historic site and transform it into Kenilworth’s first and only “living history” museum and cultural arts center has been funded, in large part, by historic preservation matching grants awarded by the New Jersey Historic Trust, New Jersey Cultural Trust and Preserve Union County Grant Program. These competitive grants were matched with funds that the Nitschke House project was awarded by the E.J. Grassmann Trust and various local businesses, in addition to other monies raised by the Kenilworth Historical Society through numerous ongoing fundraising activities.
The Nitschke House project was recognized by the State of New Jersey with a 2008 New Jersey Historic Preservation Award and most recently was cited as one of six “success stories” statewide in the 2011-2016 New Jersey Historic Preservation Plan, “Preserving New Jersey’s Heritage: A Statewide Plan.”
The Kenilworth Historical Society has owned the Nitschke House since 2003, when the then-threatened building was donated to the Historical Society by Dr. Jerome Forman and moved to land acquired with the help of the Kenilworth Veterans Center, former owner of the land, and a major New Jersey DEP Green Acres grant.
Once the Nitschke House site is fully operational, it will feature not only a “living history” museum on the first floor and a cultural arts center in the basement, but also three rooms of exhibits on the second floor, an elevator that will make the building completely accessible for people of all ages and abilities, additional heirloom gardens, and a Kenilworth Heritage Walkway featuring engraved commemorative pavers sponsored by local donors.
The Kenilworth Historical Society is an independent, volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to the research, preservation and interpretation of the historic Oswald J. Nitschke House, local history and culture.