Union County readies for ‘Four Centuries in a Weekend’

UNION COUNTY — Union County’s annual public heritage event, “Four Centuries in a Weekend: A Journey through Union County’s History,” will take place Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20, from noon to 5 p.m. Sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, with the cooperation of staff and volunteers at 27 house museums and historic sites, the two-day free event opens the doors to more than 370 years of history throughout the county.

Among the historic sites on tour, all listed on the National and New Jersey State Registers of Historic Places, with special programs or events highlighting their rich heritage are:

• Reeve History & Cultural Resource Center in Westfieldcelebrates the restoration of the 1870s Victorian Italianate home, and exhibits work by famed local artists John Brunner, Harry Devlin and Sigmund Ivanowski.

• Deserted Village of Feltville-Glenside Park in Berkeley Heights will host a meeting of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey in the restored Masker’s Barn. On Saturday, the Society will give four presentations about archaeological sites (including Feltville). Other weekend activities include free hay rides, children’s games and tours of the village.

• Deacon Andrew Hetfield House in Mountainside, home to the Hetfield family for 186 years, will show a video of the recent move of the historic Levi Cory House to its new location adjacent to the Hetfield House.

• Oswald J. Nitschke House, operated by the Kenilworth Historical Society, will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the town’s Volunteer Fire Department with a display of photos chronicling the history of Kenilworth.

• Liberty Hall Museum of Union will have on view “Ring for Service: The Role of Servants in a Country House,” a special exhibit about the role of slaves and servants at Liberty Hall from the time of Governor William Livingston.

• Reeves-Reed Arboretum of Summit will celebrate its 40 years as a historic public garden with a display of outdoor sculpture by Tom Holmes.

The Wisner House Gallery will feature a series of Holmes’ large scale photographic works and smaller sculptures.
• Crane-Phillips House Museum in Cranford will present “Clean as a Whistle,” an exhibit about the beginnings of healthy living and sanitation including early indoor plumbing, the Civil War Sanitary Commission and Cranford’s role in the first Federal Food and Drug Act.
• Historic Cannon Ball House in Springfield will feature a Civil War Encampment on Saturday; Revolutionary War re-enactors on Sunday, and relics of the 1780 Battle of Springfield.

Journey on to Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, the 1772 home of Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress, where there will be a celebration of the 150th Anniversary of President Lincoln proclaiming Thanksgiving a National Holiday – with an emphasis on the man who had the idea first: Elias Boudinot; tour the restored Revolutionary War burial grounds at the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, the oldest English-speaking congregation in New Jersey; and visit the Caldwell Parsonage at Connecticut Farms in Union, an American Revolutionary site that will feature a re-enactor portraying the “Fighting Parson” James Caldwell.

A visit to Hillside will bring you to the Woodruff House/Eaton Store, built in 1735, and the historic Evergreen Cemetery, a virtual museum of funerary art. In Rahway you’ll be welcome at the Merchants and Drovers Tavern, a restored early 19th century hotel, and you can tour the Union County Performing Arts Center, a beautifully restored classic Vaudeville theatre.

When you stop at the Dr. William Robinson Plantation in Clark, you’ll discover a post-medieval English-style house where Dr. Robinson practiced healing with plants and herbs.

Children can earn a Time Traveler’s Certificate and a Four Centuries Patch by visiting and obtaining a Time Traveler Passport at any of the sites, having it stamped and returning the completed form to the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

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