NUTLEY, NJ – Colonial times were much simpler times. No computers or cell phones. No automobiles or electricity. Many early innovations were developed right here in our own backyard.
It was a real treat to witness Nutley’s rich and vibrant history that was on display during the second annual Colonial Day Celebration and Open House on Sunday afternoon at Kingsland Manor.
The event, which saw residents young and old alike get immersed in the experience, was sponsored by Nutley Educational Foundation.
The fun, interactive living-history event saw Nutley’s colonial past come to life as visitors learned how people worked and played in pre-industrial America. Visitors got to see how they cooked food, dressed, made cosmetics, spun yarn, used woodworking tools, wove baskets and performed music.
The Kingsland Manor, made from brownstone and lumber, was built in 1668 when Major Nathaniel Kingsland acquired land for British colonization. Joseph Kingsland purchased the property in 1790.
Theresa Kish, recording secretary at Kingsland Manor, provided visitors on a tour through centuries of amazing history.
“We have music in the ballroom, marble making in the parlor, and basket weaving in the dining room,” said Kish. “We have silhouettes right here in our office and we believe that was the office used by Joseph Kingsland.”
There were food samples available, and guests could help churn butter, try rug braiding, play colonial games, make marbles, and listen to harpsichord music and popular songs.
“Upstairs, we have spinning and colonial games, and in the kitchen, we have authentic colonial food and a demonstration of butter churning and butter making,” Kish added. “Outside, we have colonial tools and tool making.”
Members of Ministors of Apollo performed, with Eliza Vincz on vocals and Erik Lichack on harpsichord and flute.
“We do early American music, specializing in late 18th century music,” said Vincz. “We are time travelers, so we do various time periods. I guess you could say we are time traveling rock stars. We both really love history.”
Vincz and Lichack were decked out head-to-toe in full, authentic colonial garb.
“I went to Montclair Stare University for music education and that’s where I studied the harpsichord,” Lichack said. “Another thing we do is that I have a flute and drum corps, I teach about 10 students, and we perform at different historic sites, parades and libraries.”
The Bus McGinnity Speakeasy restoration is taking shape in the basement of the manor. In the early 1900’s, Daniel McGinnity, a fight promoter and entertainment mogul, purchased the home and used Nutley as a training camp for prize fighters. His son, Bus, ran the speakeasy in the basement during Prohibition.
Created in 1973, the Historic Restoration Trust of Nutley is a group of active citizens whose continuing task is to move Kingsland Manor toward the broad goal of landmark, museum and local activity resource.