PARSIPPANY, NJ - September 21st and 22nd were two special dates for Mount Tabor and its Richardson History House. For this building was one of many locations for the 10th annual Pathways of History tour.
Mt. Tabor has always been its own unique community within Parsippany-Troy Hills. Walking through its neighborhood, you automatically notice the colorful and cartoonish-like houses that close together and planned out thoroughly. And walking through Trinity Park, you’d think it was some Disney-style doll house of a community.
The truth is Mt. Tabor started off in 1869 as a Methodist camp meeting ground, which was held for only 10 days each summer. But slowly, more people came and decided to stay there for the rest of their lives. And today, its residents still enjoy being together in the same location.
“You walk around town and see your neighbors,” said Michelle Laconto-Munn, president of the Mt. Tabor Historical Society. “It’s a real tight-knit community.”
And this tight-knit community showed its pride during the Pathways weekend at the Richardson History House. There, over 80 people entered through its doors to learn the building’s legacy and that of the small town itself.
This tour at the Richardson house was part of the annual Pathway of History Tour; a self-guided tour organized by multiple local historical societies, and featuring a dozen or more historic sites in Morris County.
The Richardson History House dates back to 1873 when it was first built as a home for residents J. Smith and Lydia Richardson. It occupies one-third of the Treble Cottage, located right near Trinity Park, and stands as an example of a Second Empire-style camp meeting cottage. In 2007, Evelyn Clark, a great niece of the Richardsons, handed over the house to the Mount Tabor Historical Society to be turned into museum.
The residence is unique as a part of the only attached row within the community, and includes a circa 1880 kitchen addition and a decorative slate covered mansard roof. And during the weekend, attendants were able to gaze at the framework of the house, inside and out.
“Pathways is a fantastic event that is great for Mt. Tabor and the historical society,” said Munn. “Typically, we are open only once a month. But with everyone open during one weekend, they get to see all these gems in the county. We’re kinda hidden up here.”
Mt. Tabor resident and society member Beth Shaw felt the same way and even brought along toys and games from the 19th century for people paly and observe, such as hoop rolling.
“Pathways helps to bring exposure to Mt. Tabor and display the rich history within it,” said Mt. Tabor resident Beth Shaw, who has been a member of the historical society for 25 years.
“Morris County has wonderful history everywhere, but people don’t know that we’re here.”
And when people were done inside the house, many went outside to enjoy the air around Trinity Park where they were treated to a tour around the neighborhood, learning more about Mt. Tabor’s history. There was even a replica of 19th century camp meeting tent, just like the one used by early Methodist settlers.
“The Richardson building is really interesting, and just a cute, little house,” said Allegra Lagani, from West Orange.
“It’s cool to see the way on how you have a certain amount of space and land, and make a neighborhood like Mt. Tabor. There’s a trend of little houses and they apparently were doing that back then in this district.”
Lagani’s partner John Del Pezzo, also from West Orange, also found the Pathways tour fascinating.
“Discovering the architecture is the most interesting I found about Mt. Tabor,” said Del Pezzo,
“The community has such an enthusiasm for maintaining its community and spirit that you don’t see in many towns.”
And what some people may have been noticing this year is the year-long celebrations for 2019, for Mt. Tabor has been celebrating its 150th anniversary. From swing dance classes, to car shows, to picnics, to concerts, and softball tournaments, the pride of Mt. Tabor has been on display for all to see.
Later on, an anniversary dinner is to be held on November 9th, at the Zeris Inn, in Mt. Lakes, followed by a tree lighting on December 1st, in Trinity Park.
For more information on the Mount Tabor Historical Society, visit their website at http://mounttabornj.org/, or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mounttaborhistoricalsociety/.