Union County’s annual public heritage event, “Four Centuries in a Weekend: A Journey through Union County’s History,” is back this year for another exciting weekend, taking place Saturday, October 19th and Sunday, October 20th from noon to 5:00 p.m.
Sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, with the cooperation of staff and volunteers at 35 house museums and historic sites, the two-day free event opens the doors to more than 370 years of history throughout the county.
“Four Centuries in a Weekend is a Union County tradition that allows residents and visitors to travel through time to learn about the rich history of how our county came to be,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “I encourage all to explore the historic sites that reside in our own backyards.”
Visitors will be able to stop by a beautifully restored mansion and church, Revolutionary War burial grounds, the county’s oldest railroad station, quaint house museums, special exhibitions, and more.
Some sites with special programs or events highlighting their rich history are:
- The Deserted Village of Feltville / Glenside Park in Berkeley Heights will offer children’s games, freshly pressed apple cider, and interpretive signage and opportunities to “meet” key people from Feltville/Glenside history.
- Dr. William Robinson Plantation-Museum in Clark explores the role of the U.S. servicemen and women, and the civilians who supported them, including: living history displays; a fully functioning 1919 Model T; Army Signal Corps tent with equipment, uniforms and weapons on display; and live USO shows throughout the weekend.
- Deacon Andrew Hetfield House in Mountainside will exhibit a miniature diorama of the local 1780 Revolutionary War Battle of Springfield. There will also be Guided tours of this house (circa 1760).
- Drake House Museum in Plainfield will provide tours of this historic site. Both days, 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.: Ensembles from the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra will play musical selections in the second-floor ballroom. Under the direction of Charles Prince, the PSO, New Jersey’s oldest community orchestra, is celebrating its 100th season.
- Roselle Park Museum in Roselle Park will be Exhibiting: From Science to Technology and Invention: Edison, Keurig, Marconi and new information on Nikola Tesla in Roselle Park; plus Inventors and Invention in Roselle Park. Lifetime member and iron worker Martin Kiernan will demonstrate his model of Tesla Coil, and provide information about how to make one.
- Caldwell Parsonage in Union will present a map exhibit featuring the 1860 Thomas Hughes farm map and zoning maps showing the town layout. Aerial photographs give a bird’s-eye view of the development of Route 22. A brief film made by Union High School History Club, shot in part using a drone, focusing on some of Union Township’s most significant landmarks will be shown. There will also be an appearance by “Rev. James Caldwell.”
- Donald M. Payne Vauxhall Meeting Center in Union will have displays highlighting the historic significance of the Vauxhall section of Union including: the 1780 Revolutionary War Battle of Springfield; Veterans from World War I to the present; and Land development in the Vauxhall area.
- Miller-Cory House Museum in Westfield will have open-hearth cooking demonstrations in the Frazee Building. On Saturday, museum cooks will also “fire up” the beehive oven, a laborious task requiring skill and experience. Sunday only: Presenters will discuss the Lenape tribe of Native Americans, explaining customs, beliefs, ceremonies, and displaying artifacts. Includes a fun and educational craft — children may make their own medicine pouch to take home. Gift shop offers a wide array of items.
- Reeve History & Cultural Resource Center in Westfield will provide Guided tours of this beautiful, Italianate Victorian house. There will also be an exhibit highlighting the life and career of Charles Addams, the cartoonist, who called Westfield his home; plus other exhibits and artwork.
- Nokia Bell Labs in New Providence/Murray Hill, visitors can visit the on Campus Museum from noon until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday only.
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.
This program is funded in part by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.
For free copies of the Four Centuries in a Weekend tour booklet, map and further information, call 908-558-2550 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., NJ Relay Users dial 711, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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