Arts & Entertainment

Rich In History- Elizabeth Sites Share the Spotlight in County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend Event


ELIZABETH, NJ –Take a walk through history at Union County’s annual civic heritage event, “Four Centuries in a Weekend: A Journey through Union County’s History” on Saturday, October 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 22 from noon to 5:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the County Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with staff and volunteers at 35 historic sites, the free two-day event provides county residents and visitors with a chance to walk in the footsteps of the men, women and children who shaped more than 370 years of Union County history.

One of the featured stops on the Four Centuries weekend is Boxwood Hall State Historic Site, home of Elias Boudinot. Explore the 250-year history of the house and a mini-exhibit featuring objects depicting George Washington.  

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Another important stop on the tour will be the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth & Snyder Academy Special exhibits in the Snyder Academy Museum Room. On Saturday activities include tours of the campus with church, burial grounds and Snyder Academy, which was attended by Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Visitors will see a Colonial-era battle reenactment on the front lawn, tours of Snyder art studio including a recent portrait of Alexander Hamilton as a student.

A Look Up &You’ll See Elizabeth guided walk will be held on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Discover centuries-old architecture within a single block.

Union County’s historic sites are about to unveil nearly 30 unique “Passport To Your National Parks” cancellation stamps. Visitors will bring their Passport books to national parks, and monuments managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The national park passport stamp program began in 1986. The stamps and passbooks help visitors commemorate their trips. Those holding passport books can also receive the recently-introduced Crossroads-themed stamps for the First Presbyterian Church and the Snyder Academy.

Also on the tour is the Nathaniel Bonnell Homestead. Colonel Francis Barber lived with his wife Mary at the house, which is the oldest in Elizabeth. The house takes its name from Nathaniel Bonnell, the man who built it in 1682. The Belcher-Ogden Mansion built in 1750, was originally the residence of Royal Governor Jonathan Belcher. Belcher sponsored the College of New Jersey, which later became Princeton University.

“We know that there are people who travel to sites, in part, to add another stamp to their Passport book,” Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski said, noting that there have already been inquiries from Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., as word has started to leak out about the new stamps.

“It is a great feeling to be able to help our local historical societies promote their sites,” Kowalski said.

“During Four Centuries in a Weekend, some of the most fascinating historic sites in Union County open their doors to provide visitors with a unique experience enriched by live demonstrations, re-enactments, and more,” Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen said.

Nineteen of the 21 municipalities in Union County are represented in the Four Centuries event.

“As always, we encourage families to engage children in the shared history of our community,” Kowalski said. “Our new local history trading cards are now available at the sites, and students can earn a Time Traveler’s Certificate and a Four Centuries Patch by requesting a Time Traveler Passport at any of the sites.”

All Four Centuries visitors can pick up a free Union County, Across the Centuries history booklet at any of the sites, and representatives at many of the sites of the sites can mark the Time Traveler Passport with new “Passport to Your National Parks” cancellation stamps. Adult visitors are welcome to use the Time Traveler Passport, too.

The new cancellation stamps are available at sites included in the National Park Service’s Crossroads of the American Revolution national heritage area, which includes Elizabeth and parts of Union County.

“National Parks fans of all ages enjoy traveling to sites around the country and commemorating their visits with cancellation stamps for each park,” said Kowalski. “It’s a real pleasure to offer this service to visitors at our historic sites right here in Union County.”

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