WESTFIELD, NJ — If you’ve ever listened to a concert in Mindowaskin Park or relaxed on one of the park benches, taken your children to the playground, gone for a stroll or jog on the park trails, thank our next inductee to the Westfield Hall of Fame, Charles H. Darsh, the local architect who designed the park.
The Reeve family home, the Westfield Historical Society’s headquarters, once encompassed a portion of what is now Mindowaskin Park before it was donated to the town.
Another familiar site in our town is the Westfield Fire Headquarters. Built in 1911 at a cost of $23,000, the “Moorish” style building was designed by Darsh and John Goltra and built on land bought in 1887 for $450. It had seven horse stalls, a stable area and space for fire apparatus. The building’s tower was used to dry the cotton covered fire hoses before storage. In 1980, the Headquarters was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Darsh was born in Westfield in 1869. He was educated in local schools, studied architecture at Cooper Union and L’Atelier Emanuel Masquereau in France. He was associated as a designer with the architects Bruce Price of New York for 18 years rising to the position of superintendent of drafting and head designer, designing some of the finest homes and public buildings in the East. He planned and supervised the construction of many of the elaborate residences in Tuxedo Park, Orange County, New York, one of which was the home of Pierre Lorillard. The George J. Gould estate in Lakewood New Jersey is also his work.
Spending a year and a half in Canada, he designed the Canadian Pacific Railway Station, Montreal, the James Ross estate as well as many other fine buildings like the American Surety building, the St. James building and the Bank of the Metropolis.
He was with a Baltimore firm at the time of the great fire in 1904 and was instrumental in much of the reconstruction of the devastated area.
Darsh had an office in Cranford where he owned extensive property there as well as in Westfield. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Gargoyles of New York, the New York Sketch Club, Rotary and the Westfield Art Association. He was well known for his watercolors, liked to draw cartoons of his fellow Rotarians, and enjoyed fishing.
Darsh and his wife, Marie Elizabeth, had two children, John and Beatrice. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and active in its Men’s Club.
Charles Darsh died unexpectedly of a heart attack at his home 534 Boulevard on July 4, 1939. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery.
Darsh is one of 12 important historical figures chosen to be inducted to the Westfield Hall of Fame in September of 2019.