SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ After a lengthy hiatus and months spent packing, moving, unpacking and reorganizing, South Plainfield Historical Society’s History Center is set to reopen in its new home at the Highland Woods Nature Reserve on Sylvania Place. Located in the classroom space at the nature center, the history society will officially reopen to the public March 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a Grand Opening/Town History Day celebration set to take place in May.
"We are happy to be here and to have a roof over our heads," said Dorothy Miele, president of the South Plainfield Historical Society. "This location gives us more flexibility to come and go as we please. "
The South Plainfield Historical Society was formed in 1976 as an outgrowth of residents working together for the Bicentennial and, after years of meeting at members' homes moved into a downstairs classroom at the Roosevelt Administration Building in 2006. However, in early 2015, the school district's need for space left the society in search of a new home and, with the support of Mayor Matt Anesh and the South Plainfield Borough Council, the classroom at the nature center was offered.
The history center offers the public access to such memorabilia as photographs, documents, videos and audio materials to antique and vintage clothing, memorabilia and other artifacts pertaining to South Plainfield's history. There are collections dating back to the Civil War, scrapbooks, oral history and reference materials, including old newspaper articles and published works. Numerous showcases and bookshelves fill the room and historical timelines and maps are displayed prominently on the walls. Additionally, the center has several computer terminals, a non-lending library and seating for 25 people.
The timing of the history center's reopening appropriately coincides with the 90th anniversary of the borough's incorporation. Miele, who is an active member of the mayor's anniversary committee, has been working to plan various special events – such as last week’s presentation at South Plainfield’s 90th Birthday Celebration – along with travelling history tours and other programs, which will take place throughout 2016.
While moving years worth of collections and memorabilia wasn't ideal, the move, according to Miele, comes with a few benefits. "We reorganized everything, added a lot of new reference materials and photographs, and took a thorough inventory of our artifacts and books," she said, noting that the relocation process began last May and took close to eight months to complete. "I had no idea this would take so long. We're happy with the results, and I believe the public will be, too."
The new location, said Miele, also enables the history center to be open and host special events on weekends, which was never an option when it was located in the administration building, therefore making it much more accessible to the public. Additionally, Miele, who also serves as a volunteer and director of programming with the Friends of the Woods at the South Plainfield Nature Center, feels providing the access to both resources in the same location is also a benefit to the community.
"Our new location provides the public with access to both South Plainfield's cultural heritage and natural history," said Miele. "We plan to launch history walks and talks through the woods, discussing the effects of the Wisconsin Glacier– remnants of which are still visible after 21,000 years in the woods – or talk about the Woodland Indians whose campsite was discovered on the property in the 1990s."
The South Plainfield Historical Society's History Center at the Highland Woods Nature Center will be open the first Saturday of every month with additional openings during the month will posted on the South Plainfield Historical Society’s Facebook page. Individual and group visits are also welcome by appointment. The society meets monthly (September-June) on the second Tuesday at 7 p.m. and members are needed to continue the work of collecting, researching, publishing, fundraising and grant writing.
For more information, contact Dorothy Miele at email@example.com or follow the South Plainfield Historical Society on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/South-Plainfield-Historical-Society-264439776909976/?fref=ts<https://www.facebook.com/South-Plainfield-Historical-Society-264439776909976/?fref=ts.
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