The Deserted Village of Feltville will be open to visitors on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20 with special history events featuring free hayrides, colonial games, children’s activities, guided tours and a special presentation on the houses that make up the village.
The Deserted Village is located in Union County’s Watchung Reservation. It will be open from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20 as part of the Four Centuries In A Weekend celebration of historical sites across Union County.
Special events during the weekend include the debut performance of Storied Boards at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Storied Boards is a one-woman show through which four houses share their memories and experiences of being and becoming homes. Through their stories of coming home, being home, missing home and going home, they reveal secrets, dreams, celebrations and sorrows.
“We are happy to be hosting the debut performance of Storied Boards at the Deserted Village of Feltville,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “Ms. Gaulke’s research skills and talent as an actress and storyteller have been bringing historical figures to life in an entertaining and educational way. I am intrigued to see how she will now bring the fireplace in House #7 to life as well. De la Selva’s murals are integral to plans now being drawn for restoration of that house, and we would love for people to know more about them.”
Throughout the weekend, visitors can take self-guided tours or enjoy a narrated hayride that runs continuously during the weekend, rolling past most of the buildings and through the grounds of the village.
The ghost of David Felt will be available at the General Store to converse with visitors, describing the factory town he built in 1845 to house a printing mill and the 175 people who worked in his mill, on his farm, his store and school. At 2:00 p.m. each day, Mr. Felt will provide a 20-minute long armchair tour on the porch of the store.
The General Store will also feature historical exhibits along with nostalgic candy, snacks, toys and games for sale. Picnic tables are available for those packing a lunch.
At 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, a special archaeology activity will enable visitors to learn how an “X” on the ground yielded a great assemblage of artifacts at the site, and also revealed an interesting social history. The activity will be led by Matthew Tomaso, Dr. Richard Veit, and Carissa Scarpa, professional archaeologists who have conducted archaeological investigations at the Deserted Village.
Another highlight is the beautifully restored circa-1882 Masker’s Barn carriage house. Outside the Barn, visitors can sit with the ghost of Frank Malloy and roast marshmallows at the campfire ring.
“Storied Boards” was written by and will be performed by Laurie MacDonnell-Gaulke, an actress/storyteller who specializes in creating historical portrayals of real people with real stories to tell. Using primary sources whenever possible, she strives to present each character in a historically, culturally and socially accurate manner.
With “Storied Boards,” Laurie has chosen parts of each of the four houses to be the characters. One of those houses is a former Feltville mill workers’ house in which Roberto de la Selva, a Nicaraguan artist, painted murals on the plaster walls in 1927. The fireplace in House #7 will share tales of events to which it has borne witness.
All activities for the Four Centuries weekend are rain or shine, and most are free of charge.
Enter the Deserted Village via Cataract Hollow Road, off of Glenside Avenue (GPS 1 Cataract Hollow Road, Berkeley Heights). Wear warm clothes and sturdy walking shoes.
For additional information about the Deserted Village of Feltville/Glenside Park, visit ucnj.org/dv.
Information about over 30 other Four Centuries in a Weekend sites is available from the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs online at ucnj.org/4c.
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