LIVINGSTON, NJ — In commemoration and reflection of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of captive Africans in the United States, the Condit Family Cook House, the former Slave Cabin and The Force Homestead Museum in Livingston will be open to the public on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
In 1964, two years after the Township of Livingston purchased the homestead in 1962, members of the Livingston Historical Society started the repair and restoration of the interior of the home—taking great care that only original materials were used. Over the years, many supporters have donated period pieces that are displayed in the home today.
According to the Livingston Historical Society, both the Force Home and the Condit Family Cookhouse are currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Condit Family Cookhouse—a small, 19th century, one-and-a-half-story building with two small rooms—stood for many years as part of the former Williams farm. It was built as a slave cabin and later converted into a “cooking house” on what became the Ira Condit farm.
After being moved onto the northwest corner of the Force Homestead property in 1964, the building was completely restored by the Kiwanis Club of Livingston, the Livingston Historical Society and the township management.
The Condit Family Cook House, a 12' 3" x 18' 3-3/4" wood-frame structure complete with a fireplace, was used as a summer kitchen, tenant house, washhouse and store room while at its original location.
According to the Livingston Historical Society, the exact date the cookhouse was built is not known, but the type of use and materials used in the construction indicate that the building was constructed some time during the later part of the 1700's.
This building, originally part of a large farm of several hundred acres, was located at the intersection of Walnut Street and South Orange Avenue in the Cheapside section of the township and was known for many years as the Ira Condit Farm. On this original site, the Cook House was located southward of the main farmhouse at No. 370 Walnut Street, which stood on a knoll facing the intersection of South Orange Avenue and Walnut Street prior to its relocation.
The site also contained a main farmhouse, several barns and other farm buildings, according the historical society. It is now the location of the Livingston Mall.
The Livingston Historical Society aims to foster wide appreciation of the development of the Livingston community from its earliest days. The committee strives to “discover, collect, preserve, publish and exhibit materials illustrating the history of the area.”
Donations are encouraged to help pay for the preservation of the artifacts in The Force Homestead Museum, which is located at 366 S. Livingston Avenue.
Visit www.livingstonnj.org/HistoricalSociety to learn more or arrange a private tour by contacting Lorraine Palmer at (973) 992-6896.
Docents from the Livingston Historical Society also typically lead free tours of the Force Homestead on the second Sunday of the month during September, October, November, April, May and June from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.