Arts & Entertainment

Summit Historic Homes Showcased in New Book

October 11, 2013 at 11:50 AM

SUMMIT, NJ - The newest addition to the popular Images of America series is entitled Summit Historic Homes, from local author Cynthia B. Martin.  The book includes more than 200 vintage images of the beautiful, historic homes of Summit.

Originally sought out by city dwellers as a refuge from the tribulations of urban life, Summit developed from a bucolic rural spot in 1836 to a fully established suburb by 1940.  The town’s growth was intrinsically tied to the development of the railroad, and the convenience of the commute it offered to nearby New York City.  The houses constructed during these years reflected their owner’s wealth, social standing and aesthetic sensibilities, and exemplified the trends of their times.  Some of these houses served as summer residences; others as primary dwellings.  Some were designed by well-known architects; others by local talent.  Many of these residences are still standing, although some have been altered or even demolished to suit modern lifestyles.

Summit Historic Homes tells the story of Summit’s early development by focusing on the expansion of the railroad and the houses built by the city dwellers who moved there as a result.  Highlights of Summit Historic Homes include:

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- Rarely seen before images of residences designed by local architects, including John N. Cady, Benjamin V. White, Louis R. Hazeltine, Joy Wheeler Dow, William A. Balch, Perry R. MacNeille and Richard S. Shapter.

- Tracing the influence of the railroad and how it affected the development of northeastern New Jersey.

- Such well-known Summit sites such as the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, the Beacon Hill Club, the Fortnightly Club and the DeBary Inn

Since 1988, author Martin, her husband and their three children have lived in one of Summit’s historic houses.  Her enthusiasm for Summit is reflected in her active participation in the life of the community.  She was elected to three terms on Summit’s Common Council from 1997-2006, and has served on the boards of many local organizations.  Currently she is a volunteer and trustee of the Summit Historical Society, and serves as Chair of the Summit Area YMCA Board of Trustees.  

An art history major at Smith College, Martin has a longtime interest in American decorative arts and architecture.  She followed up on this interest by receiving a Certificate in Historic Preservation from Drew University in 2010.  Her studies at Drew prompted her to begin the research that resulted in Summit Historic Homes.

She hopes that the book will inspire Summit homeowners to do their own research on their homes and, "provide a lasting visual record of Summit’s residential architecture, giving today’s residents an appreciation for Summit’s historic homes and their legacy."  The author’s profits from sales of the book are being donated to the Summit Historical Society.

Summit Historic Homes is available at area bookstores, independent and online retailers, through Arcadia Publishing at 888 / 313-2665, or online at


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