Arts & Entertainment

History Comes Alive During Somerset County Journey Through the Past

General George Washington and his Continental Army spent the winters of 1777 and 1779 in Somerville and the surrounding area. Washington's headquarters was at The Wallace House in Somerville.
The early 20th-century Daniel Robert Mansion which now serves as Somerville’s Borough Hall.
The Somerville Fire Museum is located at 25 South Doughty Street; its extensive collection of firefighting memorabilia includes 19th-century fire apparatus. Credits: Rod Hirsch/Tapinto file photo

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County’s rich history and its pivotal role in the growth of New Jersey and the country will be on display during the 12th annual Weekend Journey Through the Past this weekend.

More than two dozen historic sites, including three in Somerville, will be open Saturday, Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 15, noon-4 p.m.

The Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission is coordinator of the living history weekend.

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"This popular fall event has something for all ages," said Freeholder Brian D. Levine, commission liaison. "This year there will be 29 historic sites countywide open free of charge."

Visit the event website at www.SCHistoryWeekend.com for details and watch the 90-second Weekend Journey video. There is an interactive map of participating sites at http://bit.ly/2017WJMap.

Highlights include the Wallace House in Somerville, where Gen. George Washington established his headquarters with the Continental Army in 1777 and 1779; the Daniel Robert Mansion which now serves as Somerville’s Borough Hall and the Somerville Fire Museum, a former 19th-century firehouse loaded with vintage fire fighting apparatus and memorabilia.

The weekend will feature tours led by costumed docents and actors portraying historical figures; old-time silent movies with live organ music in an old vaudeville theater; authentic, traditional blacksmithing; 19th-century firefighting wagons and apparatus; sights and sounds of 18th-century living; open-hearth cooking by reenactors; one-room schoolhouses; original Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows; craftspeople demonstrating period crafts; live theater and music; a talking tour of Rocky Hill, a National Historic Site; an annual period antiques fair and community flea market; a live organ recital, including a rendition of "The Battle of Trenton" by James Hewitt; access to local genealogical resources to aid in tracing family's ancestry; a scavenger hunt for children at the U.S. Golf Association Museum and a guided tour of the USGA equipment standard lab, both on Saturday.

At the Van Horne House in Bridgewater, across from TD Bank Ballpark, experience British-occupied New Jersey as it was in 1776. During your interactive guided tour, put quill to paper and sign the King's Loyalty Oath. Join a dance to meet genuine loyalists and secret patriots. Get a military briefing on the war against the rebels. Join a loyalist-versus-patriot debate in the pub. Witness the raising of a liberty pole. The free tours run 1 hour and 15 minutes each.

There are two new participating sites this year, both in Franklin Township: the Van Liew-Suydam House at 280 South Middlebush Road and the Griggstown Bridgetender's House at 2 Griggstown Causeway. The bridgetender's house, among other things, will feature spinning wool on an antique spinning wheel, organic dyes and sheared wool to sample.

2017 Participating Historic Sites and Locations

1. Blawenburg Reformed Church, Blawenburg (Montgomery)
2. Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate, Basking Ridge
3. The Brick Academy, Basking Ridge
4. The Brook Arts Center / Historic Brook Theater, Bound Brook
5. Codington Farmstead, Warren 
6. Gen. John Frelinghuysen House / Raritan Public Library, Raritan
7. Amy Garret House, Rocky Hill
8. Griggstown Bridgetender's House, Princeton
9. Griggstown School House, Princeton Township
10. Historic 1860 Schoolhouse / Millstone Borough Hall, Millstone
11. Kirch-Ford-Terrill House, Warren 
12. Mount Bethel Meeting House, Warren 
13. Old Millstone Forge Blacksmith Shop & Museum, Millstone
14. Old Presbyterian Graveyard, Bound Brook
15. The Presbyterian Church at Bound Book
16. Relief Hose Company No. 2 Engine House, Raritan
17. Daniel Robert Mansion, / Somerville Borough Hall, Somerville
18. Somerville Fire Museum, Somerville
19. South Branch School House, Branchburg
20. Abraham Staats House, South Bound Brook
21. Andrew Ten Eyck House, Branchburg
22. Texier House Museum, Watchung
23. USGA Golf Museum, Far Hills
24. Philip Van Horne House, Bridgewater
25. Van Liew-Suydam House, Franklin Township
26. Van Veghten House, Bridgewater
27. Dr. John Vermeule House, Green Brook
28. Wallace House State Historic Site, Somerville
29. Washington Rock State Park, Green Brook

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