Community Life

Noted Olmsted Historian and Author, Jeanne Kolva, to Give Presentation on Essex County Park System

February 21, 2013 at 4:11 PM

CALDWELL / ESSEX FELLS, NJ - The Grover Cleveland Park is over 41 acres and runs through the Caldwell-Essex Fells border. It was acquired in 1913 and in honor of its 100th anniversary, the Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy will be offering a series of events and celebrations throughout this year.

Credit: Essex County Parks

Frederick Law Olmsted, the esteemed landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park and numerous other parks across the county, was succeeded in his business by his son and stepson, John Charles and Frederick Law, Jr., better known as the Olmsted Brothers. The brothers became renowned in their own right for their designs of numerous parks and campus landscapes across the country; notably Atlanta's Piedmont Park, as well as roadways through the Great Smoky Mountains,  Acadia National Parks, and Yosemite Valley, along with such campuses  as Bryn Mawr College, Johns Hopkins University, Phillips Academy, and the University of Notre Dame.

The Grover Cleveland Park, along with all of the parks in the Essex County Park System, was also part of their notable commissions; the park system was established on March 5, 1895, and was the first of its kind in the country. Each park is created to look as if it was naturally made, but instead, lakes were excavated, hilltops were grown and and trees and plants were sent in from all over the country.

Credit: Raymond Caprio  

In 1913, the Olmsted Brothers were asked to create a plan for the Grover Cleveland Park, and by the summer of 1914, a playground, sand court, wading pool, tennis courts, baseball fields, and a shelter house were well underway, and finally completed by 1916. The park is named after President Grover Cleveland and follows the path of Runnymede Road and Brookside Avenue. According to the Essex County Park System, the setting of this park is a “formal design with manicured lawns, well-spaced large trees, and three acres of waterways.” At the farthest end of the pond, there is a “small footbridge which marks the location of a former sawmill which at one time was used for grinding tanbark to make paper.” The footbridge is one of four that connect the park over the Pine Brook Creek.

The upper pathway. Credit: Raymond Caprio

In recognition of the park’s 100th year, the conservancy is kicking off their year-long celebration with a visit by noted Olmsted historian, Jeanne Kolva. Kolva, author of "Olmsted Parks in New Jersey," will present a talk along with a slide presentation on Sunday, March 3 at 2pm in the West Caldwell Public Library, located at 30 Clinton Road

Kolva has her Master's degree in Art History, and is a 2004 graduate of the Historic Preservation Certificate Program at Drew University. As an architectural historian, she has worked on many historic preservation projects throughout the state of New Jersey 

Walking path from pond to play ground, second building on the left.
Credit: Raymond Caprio

According to the conservancy, Kolva will give a historic overview of all of the Olmsted parks in the Essex County Park System. After the talk, she will be selling and signing copies of her book and home-baked refreshments will be provided for guests. There is no charge to attend the event, however pre-registration is requested. To register for the Kolva Presentation, call (973) 226-5441 or email

For further information:

The Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2001 by friends and neighbors dedicated to the maintenance, restoration and enhancement of the treasured park.

Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy
PO Box 203
Caldwell, NJ 07006
(973) 618-9154 

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