MAPLEWOOD, NJ - More than a century ago, Burnett Avenue was a much quieter place than it is now.
There was more open space. Where Woolley Home Solutions is located, there were coal silos and railroad tracks for the Rahway Line.
Then came 1924. That's the year the Woolley family came to town from New York and built Woolley's Home Service, a plumbing, cooling, heating and biofuel business. The land was a coal yard that went bankrupt with a farmhouse that was once located on the property.
The business was started by two brothers Norman Whitehouse Woolley Senior and Herbert Woolley, who opened it in their late teens and early twenties. Herbert was 24 and Norman Senior was 17.
The year 1924 was an important one in Maplewood. It was the year a firehouse was constructed on Dunnell Road, Prospect Church opened, and the Valley View development exceeded 75 homes, according to Norman Woolley Jr., Norman Senior's son. And at the time, Norman Woolley Jr. said, the library was located inside of the firehouse.
"It was definitely an up-and-coming town that was starting to grow," said Woolley Jr. "All the new homes needed heat and ice for their refrigerators."
A lot has changed in Maplewood over the past 95 years, but what remains the same is that the Woolley family still owns and operates Woolley Home Solutions in the same location along Burnett Avenue, not far from where De Hart Community Center and Park is today. Woolley Jr. and his son Norman E. Woolley run the business.
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Woolley Home Solutions celebrated its 95th anniversary this spring.
Some of the services today that Woolley Home Solutions offers include air conditioner repair, replacement and maintenance; shower and bath installation and toilet installation; sump pump repair and installation; whole house dehumidifiers and humidifiers; air purification systems; heating oil and biodiesel.
"The fuels have changed over time," said Norman E. Woolley about the fuels over the years. "They've gotten better as far as the environment is concerned, and the equipment burns the fuel more efficiently."
Norman E. Woolley said Woolley Home Solutions started using biofuel more in the 2000s.
"We became the first biodiesel station in New Jersey and Maplewood was the first customer," Norman E. Woolley said.
Other services that are common today in homes include the usage of energy efficient motors for heating and air conditioning, humidification, filtration of water, and running the air conditioner blower all year, which removes impurities from the air, according to Norman E. Woolley.
Smart theromstats are more commonly used too, explained Woolley Jr.
"As far as fuel in general, there's been no change besides the renewal aspect of it on the fuel oil side and they call that Bioheat, trademarked as renewable," said Woolley Jr.
For celebrating 95 years in business, Woolley Home Solutions was recently honored by the Union Chamber of Commerce. The business is also offering a Swing into Spring promotion. More information can be found about Swing into Spring on Woolley's website, https://www.woolleyfuel.com/.