LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston residents will have an opportunity to visit Livingston’s Force Homestead, a historic landmark that sits at 366 South Livingston Avenue nestled between St. Philomena's church and the Memorial Oval, on the afternoon of Sunday, April 10 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Though most Livingston residents drive by it regularly, many have never explored or heard the story of the Force Homestead, which is restored and maintained by the Livingston Historical Society. The tour of the two-story home on Sunday will give residents the opportunity to hear about the history of the house from Historical Society docents take a look back to what life was like in the area during the Colonial Period and American Revolution.
The historical society opens the house for tours once a month, but the April 10 open house is special because it coincides with bus tours of historic sites in Livingston. The forty-five-minute tours will drive by approximately twenty historic sites in the western part of town, with historic narrative provided by a guide from the Livingston Historical Society.
“The bus tour itinerary was originally created for Livingston's Bicentennial celebration in 2013. It was so well received then that we thought we should make it available once again,” said Historical Society President Denise McDonald. “In one afternoon people can see historic sites they may not have known about and also visit Livingston's most famous historic home.”
Visitors will see the home's four open-hearth fireplaces, each equipped with the cooking pots and furnishings typical of the mid-eighteenth century when it housed the Force family, who were operators of a mill on the creek that flows behind the current Town Hall.
The public will also be able to explore the small cookhouse building and barn, which houses an impressive array of Revolutionary era tools. The cookhouse was used originally as slave quarters. The narrow winding stair from the single first-story room leads to a small loft room with a rope bed, a reminder that slavery was once a reality here.
“It means more to me to drive around town now that I know a little bit more about what happened here,” said former Mayor Arlene Johnson. “I think it just gives us a deeper appreciation for what came before us that makes us enjoy and appreciate our town in a different way than we did before.”
The bus tours will be at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and will begin and end in the northwest corner of the St. Philomena's parking lot. Since the Force Home will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., visitors will be able to take one of the bus tours and then walk a few steps to visit the Force Home.
The cost of the bus tour is $5 per person, with proceeds benefitting the work of the Livingston Historical Society. Advance reservations are required for the bus tours and can be made by contacting Denise McDonald at 973-535-1390 or the Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since space is limited, reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Checks should be sent to Livingston Historical Society, PO Box 220, Livingston NJ, 07039. Payment must be received by April 5 in order to hold a reservation.
It is not necessary to take a bus tour in order to visit the Force Home. No reservations are required for entering the Force Home, and there is no charge to take a docent-led tour, but contributions for the upkeep of the historic home will be gratefully received.
The April 10 historic tours are sponsored by the Livingston Citizens' Institute and the Livingston Historical Society.