WAYNE, NJ – The weather couldn’t have been better on Saturday evening for the Dey Mansion Garden Extravaganza and ribbon-cutting that marked the official opening of the newly restored Olmsted Garden.
Several of the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders were present for the ceremony, including Director John Bartlett and Freeholders TJ Best, Terry Duffy, and Pat Lepore.
Bartlett began the ceremony, speaking while the sun began to set. “We are blessed in Passaic County to have exceptional historic sites, but I think I’m showing my own bias that the Dey Mansion is the ultimate example in that,” said Bartlett, adding: “Today is another special day, marking a step forward in the Dey Mansion as a destination. That is the official formal opening of these beautiful gardens.”
“We have more educational and cultural programming happening every year at Passaic County Parks, particularly at our historic sites, then we’ve had in decades,” continued Bartlett. It’s to the great credit of our Director of Historic and Cultural Affairs, Kelly Rufel, and Jessica and their entire team,” said Bartlett. Jessica is Jessica Bush the Museum Curator for the Passaic County Department of Cultural and Historic Affairs.
Edward Smyk the Passaic County Historian for the last forty-three years spoke next: “It is highly satisfying to me to stand here and see what has happened with the restoration of this property. It will help us to, again, tell the story of American liberty that took place in that building with General Washington and his band of patriots.”
Bush was all smiles as she addressed the crowd in front of the Dey Mansion, clearly proud to have been part of the garden restoration project. She thanked the Freeholders and spoke about the restoration but her story about what she hoped to find while the grounds were being dug up brought laughter from the crowd. What did she hope to find? “The privy,” said Bush.
“If you go back to the 1800s, think about what the privy was,” said Bush. “It was a garbage area because you could throw things away and it would eventually be filled over and forgotten about. Also, if you go to use the privy in the middle of the night and something dropped out of your pocket, you’re not going to reach back in there to get it. So, for a historic site to find the privy, it is a wealth of archeological evidence.”
They did find the privy and uncovered all kinds of artifacts that are now on display in the museum. But don’t worry, they’ve all been cleaned.
The ribbon was cut by the dignitaries and the restored Olmsted Gardens are officially open. Plan your visit to the Dey Mansion soon. For hours of operation and tour information visit the website here: www.DeyMansion.Org