I stopped in at the Museum of Prehistory after a tour of several other historical sites in the area and this little museum is packed with interesting artifacts.
One section was dedicated to the Lenape Indians who lived in the area. There was a many artifacts such as arrow heads, spears, pottery and an assortment of fishing and cooking materials. The Native Americans had an interesting system of living that adapted to nature. They developed a sophisticated system of living that was mobile and came with them as they moved around during the seasons.
There is an extensive fossil collection that includes trilobites, shark teeth, crabs, lobsters and they even had a foot print of a dinosaur. What I thought was…
I spent an long weekend visiting historic sites in southern New Jersey studying the Revolutionary War. Don’t miss this area as it is steeped in history of the Revolutionary War and the country’s founding.
I took an extensive tour one weekend of historical sites of southern New Jersey to see how the lower part of the state was inpacted by the Revolutionary War and one of the most important sites was the Hancock House. The family was extremely prominent not just in Salem, NJ but in New Jersey politics as well.
The house once stood on an very busy road between Salem and Bridgeton and where most commerce passed by. When I was taking the tour, you could see that the house was built in two parts. When I was listening to the lecture I found that the side of the house that faced the road had once been…
After a few weeks of touring around New Jersey for a historical weekend, traveling to see my mother for Mother’s Day and running in and out of the City with me finally returning to Soup Kitchen and posting my grades on my class’s successful group project on “Rocking it in Rutherford”, I was finally able to get in Manhattan and continue my walk around the island. I finally was able to get into the main part of the Chelsea neighborhood.
After a long morning in the Soup Kitchen, I planned the entire day out. We were really busy that day as we have increased the productivity by a hundred bags to give away with the food distributed to the homeless. I was told that the need is getting bigger, and we had to increase the numbers. It is a sad state of this economy right now. These lines are just getting longer. This is the one thing I like about volunteering here is that you are part of a solution rather complaining about the problem.
After I was finished for the day and a little snack to tide me over, I started my walk around the border of the northern part of the Chelsea neighborhood. What was nice was it was right out the door of the church, and I started the walk down West 28th Street which it shares with the border of Hudson Yards/West Chelsea. I got to revisit this part of the neighborhood again.
What I did learn from walking the neighborhood was more about the history of The Church of the Holy Apostles. The Church of the Holy Apostles was built between 1845 to 1848 and was designed by architect Minard Lafever with the stained-glass windows designed by William Jay Bolton (Wiki).
The church has always been progressive, and it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The church had been an extension of the Trinity Church downtown for the working-class people in the area. Now it also runs the second largest Soup Kitchen in the United States. The biggest is in San Franciso (Wiki).
The Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue feels like a second home to me
It was also convenient in that it was where I needed to start my walk on the edge of West 28th Street where the church is located right across from Chelsea Park south of the northern section of Hudson Yards and right across from the Lower Garment District (please read my blogs on walking these parts of Manhattan as well).
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was that it was a park. Chelsea Park is located across the street at the corner of Ninth Avenue and between West 28th and 27th Streets. I had always thought this was part of P.S. 33, the elementary school next door complex. There is a whole separate park behind that corner.
Chelsea Park extends all the way to Tenth Avenue with soccer and basketball courts and places for people to not just run but relax under the blanket of trees in the summer. Facing Ninth Avenue in a small courtyard is the statue of the ‘Chelsea Doughboy’.
The statute was designed to honor the war veterans of WWI. The term “Doughboy” no one is too sure where it originated. Some think from the fried dough dumplings that the soldiers eat or maybe from the way their uniforms looked which were a little baggy or from the dough clay that they used to clean their uniforms (NYCParks.org).
Artist Philip Martiny was a French born American artist who settled in New York when he immigrated here in 1878. He was a contemporary of artist August Saint-Gaudens and known for his decorative styles in the Beaux-Arts fashion. He created many sculptures for buildings in New York City and Washington DC (Wiki).
I walked past Chelsea Park on the way to Tenth Avenue and walked all along the borders of the park. The park is becoming a homeless encampment. I have not seen anything like this since Mayor Guiliani closed Thompkins Square Park in the East Village and then fenced it off to the homeless and renovated it. There were people sleeping all over the place even by the small playground that the kids were playing in. It really is beginning to show the state of the City now. The bathrooms were even locked to the patrons.
The track area was pretty much empty and what was really a shocker is how the neighborhood again changes at the Tenth Avenue border. This part of the neighborhood has gotten extremely expensive that was documented in the documentary “Class Divide” on the changes of the neighborhood due to the Highline.
“Class Divide” by HBO. The sound is muted but you can see it with subtitles
On the other side of Chelsea Park is some of the newest and most expensive real estate in Manhattan, a lot due to the Highline. The Highline is an elevated walkway that starts on West 30th Street and extends to West 19th Street and has in recent years set the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Highline Park was created from a remnant of the former New York Central railroad spur that was elevated above the roads below. In 2006, there was a neighborhood effort to save it and create an urban park. Now the 1.45-mile park supplies an elevated greenery above the neighborhood which has created expensive real estate on all sides of the park (Wiki).
The Highline Park was designed by James Corner Field Operations, Piet Oudolf and Diller, Scofidio and Renfro.
As I passed the Highline Park, I passed the most unusually designed building at 520 West 28th Street. The building is a residential complex known as the Zaha Hadid Building after the architect who designed it Zaha Hadid. It was one of her only residential complexes that she designed and one of the last buildings she created before her death. The building is designed with curvilinear geometric motifs (Wiki).
520 West 28th Street-The Zaha Hadid Building (Streeteasy.com)
You will be passing a lot of construction going on by the time you get to Twelve Avenue. Buildings are being renovated and rebuilt and all new buildings are popping up on the edge of this now very trendy neighborhood. What was once dock yards and parking lots is becoming high end office buildings for “Silicon Alley” as the Tech industry is called in New York City.
At the end of the block is Hudson River Park, a strip of green park created on this side of Manhattan under the Bloomberg Administration (God are we now missing those years!). This little strip of park at the end of West 28th Street has some interesting views of Edgewater, NJ. The afternoon I visited the park, there were a few joggers and dog walkers making their way through the park. The strip gets smaller along Twelve Avenue until you walk to about West 42nd Street by the Circle Line boat ride.
As you enter the park, there is a very unusual set of sculptures entitled ‘Two Too Large Tables’ by artists Allan and Ellen Wexler. Two Too Large Tables consists of two elements. Each is constructed of brushed stainless steel and Ipe wood.
One piece has thirteen chairs extended up to become columns that raise sixteen square feet plane seven feet off the ground. In the second piece, the same chairs act as supporters to lift a sixteen square feet plane 30 inches off the ground. The first functions as a shade pavilion, the second as a community table. As people sit, they become part of the sculpture. People sitting together, forming unusual pairings because of the chair groupings (Artist bio).
Two Too Large Tables in Hudson River Park (Artist bio)
Artist Allen Wexler is an American born artist from Connecticut and studied at Rhode Island School of Design where he received his BFA and BS in Architecture. He studied and earned his MS in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. He is known for his multiple disciplines in art (Wiki).
The trip up Twelve Avenue is less than exciting. There is a tiny strip of park along the river that is mostly behind fencing. On the other side of the street is construction holes and fences from all the planned buildings that will start raising along the avenue.
The one place where there was some action was BLADE Operations at the Hudson River Park where helicopters were flying in. It reminded me of the opening scene of the Peter Bogdanovich film “They All Laughed” that I had just seen at the retrospect of the director’s work at the MoMA.
“They All Laughed” trailer by Peter Bogdanovich is a true Manhattan film
I made the turn down Twelve Avenue and here you have to watch because of the all the construction going on. There is so much building going on along the avenue just watch out for scaffolding and unpassable sidewalks along the Hudson River waterfront.
You will pass some very impressive buildings that are part of New York’s “Silicon Valley” including the well-known Starrett-Lehigh Building that has changed the complexity of the businesses in this neighborhood.
The Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street
The building was built and finished in 1931 for the Starrett Corporation and the Leigh Valley Railroad as a freight terminal. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Cory & Cory and in 1998 went through a renovation as a office building. It is currently going through another renovation that will be completed in 2023 (Wiki/Starrett-Leigh website).
As I crossed the street from Hudson River Park I passed the renovations of Chelsea Waterside Park. This is the park where last year I started “The Great Saunter Walk” last year on the Summer Solstice. The park had a ‘Butterfly Garden’ that people were working the morning that I started the walk. The park is going through a full make over and the plans for it look amazing.
Chelsea Waterside Park at 557 West 23rd Street (Hudson River Park Archives)
The renovations are in the works right now
When you walk through Hudson River Park, it is the nicest place to take a rest and sit under a tree to cool off. The park has the most amazing breezes and views of the river and neighboring New Jersey.
As I was walking around one of the wooded piers admiring the view, I came a across a grouping of stones that looked unusual with the way that they were set. The grouping was a sculpture garden by artist Meg Webster entitled “Stonefield”.
“Stonefield” by artist Meg Webster
This landscape sculpture consists of large stones chosen from quarries in New York State and the northeast corner of Pennsylvania. They were selected for their special shapes and unusual sculptural qualities. Some are colorful, some are concave, some craggy, one is very tall. The artist views each stone as special and arranged each to showcase its unique characteristics and individual “being-ness” (Hudson River Park.com).
Ms. Webster is an American born artist who has a BA from Old Dominion University and MFA from Yale University. She works with natural materials such as salt, sand and earth known for her Post-Minimalism and the Land Art Movement. She is known for her sculpture and installation work (Wiki).
Artist Meg Webster talks about her artwork
As you pass the fencing of the renovations, watch out for the traffic with its lots of busses, cars and bicyclists. It is almost as if no one sees traffic lights or pedestrians. Look both ways when you cross from the park to West 23rd Street.
West 23rd Street is a combination of new construction and historic buildings showing how the neighborhood is transitioning but with a historic element. Not only a residential but interesting commercial strip with engaging shops and very reasonable restaurants and take-out places. It is a real New York neighborhood.
Between Twelve and Eleventh Avenues, you are seeing the development around the High Line Park. All the new modern structures are being built around the pathway park which is influencing this part of the neighborhood.
When you reach between Tenth and Ninth Avenues, you arrive at the brownstones of the Chelsea Historic District, which was once part of the Captain Thomas Clarke estate that was separated into townhouse lots that have been changed and altered since the original parcels were created in 1835. His descendant, Clement Clarke Moore, created the neighborhood plots for the townhouses.
The creation of the neighborhood of “Chelsea” from the Captain Thomas Clarke Estate
This block of the neighborhood is a combination of interesting stone townhouses on one side of West 23rd Street and the other side of the street is turn of the last century apartment buildings. When you are walking west towards the Hudson River, take the time to admire these last 19th Century buildings. The official historic district does start one block below on West 22nd Street.
Once you cross over Eighth Avenue, the rest of the street is a combination of commercial businesses with a mixture of residential either on top or to the side of these establishments. What I love about Chelsea is that it is a treasure trove of reasonable restaurants that dot the street all the way to Sixth Avenue.
Just off the corner of Eighth Avenue is Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street, which has the best Detroit style pizza that I have tasted in New York City. The sauce and cheese are baked into the sides of their pizza, and they really load down on the toppings.
Don’t miss their sausage or pepperoni pizza which has a heavy covering of spicy sliced pepperoni and the sweet sausage that is topped with maple syrup. Their pizza has a crisp outside and a pillowy inside.
The Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza here is just excellent
Just next to Lions & Tigers & Squares is Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street. This amazing little restaurant serves the best burgers and chicken fingers. Their French Fries come in a little sack that can serve two people.
When I had lunch there recently when I was finishing my walk around West Chelsea/Hudson Yards, I had the juiciest twin Cheeseburgers and a bag of fries. Their burgers are so fresh and well-cooked and topped with lots of fresh vegetables. They are so well caramelized on the outside that the burgers have such a good flavor when combined with the toppings.
The Mini Cheeseburgers with fries are excellent at Lucky’s Famous Burgers
In between the blocks there was some unique buildings that stood out amongst the more modern apartment and post WWII buildings. Tucked in here and there are traces of the Victorian past of the neighborhood.
At 244 West 23rd Street is a beautifully embellished building in brick and cream colors was built in 1900 by developer Isidor Hoffstadt. Decorations of garlands adorn the windows and top of the building and some of the upper floor windows are surrounded by archways. It now contains twelve lofts with multiple bedrooms (Daytonian in Manhattan).
A few doors down are one of the most famous hotels still under scaffolding after a few years of renovations. The Chelsea Hotel at 222 West 23rd Street was built between 1883 and 1885 and was designed by architect Philip Hubert from the firm of Hubert, Pirrson & Company. The hotel is designed in the Queen Anne Revival with a combination of American Gothic (Wiki).
The hotel had originally opened as a cooperative and a home to artists and members of the theater community, but the concept changed in 1905 when it reopened as a hotel. The hotel has gone through several management changes over the years. In early 2022, the Chelsea Hotel reopened again as a hotel when the interior renovations were finished.
What has made the Hotel Chelsea so famous over the years are the artists and theater people who have lived at the hotel over the years and have used the hotel for their own creativity. Music, books, movies and story lines have been written here over the years by some of the most creative minds in history.
The hotel was a catalyst for the creative set. Notable famous residents included Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, and Joseph O’ Neil, who when living here with his family was influenced by the hotel when he wrote ‘Neverland’. Film stars including Dennis Hopper, Elliot Gould and Warhol star Edie Sedwick had stayed at the hotel at various times. Musicians and singers Madonna and Janis Joplin both resided in the hotel and Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, Nancy Spungen was found stabbed (Wiki).
On the corner of Eighth Avenue are three restaurants I have noted many times in this blog for either their creative cooking or their cheap eats. These are real neighborhood restaurants.
The first one being Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street, which was the starting point when I had breakfast last summer when I started “The Great Saunter” walk on Father’s Day. The breakfasts here are just amazing. The pancake platter was out of this world and their breakfast sandwich Bacon Egg and Cheese was delicious.
Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street is great for all meals
Next door to it is Pizza Gaga at 171 West 23rd Street for $1.50 slices and $1.00 cans of soda. This is my ‘go-to’ place when I need a quick snack and then need to dash on the subway to go somewhere else.
The cheese pizza at Pizza Gaga at 171 West 23rd Street is really good
A few doors down is Excellent Dumpling House at 165 West 23rd Street. I have only eaten there once but the food was pretty good that evening but it still warrants a second trip because the raving that it got online did not live up to the hype of the food. The Soup Dumplings I had that night were large but did not have that much flavor.
At the corner of the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street at 100 West 23rd Street is the second Macy’s Department Store building. This was on the very edge of the Ladies Shopping Mile that once stretched along Sixth Avenue.
The building was built in 1871 and you can see all the elaborate embellishments on it with interesting stone carvings and elegant window design and some wrought iron details on different parts of the building. It was the last location of the store before it moved to its current location at 151 West 34th Street.
151 West 34th Street (Renthop.com) is an old Macy’s
When you walk up Sixth Avenue, which Chelsea shares with the border of NoMAD (North of Madison Sqaure Park) was once the Flower District. This part of Manhattan used to be lined with whole vendors up and down the Avenue. When I was working at Macy’s in the early 1990’s, most of this neighborhood was rezoned for residential. Practically every block from West 35th to West 23rd Street was knocked down and rebuilt with new apartment buildings. So, the character of the neighborhood changes until you walk the side streets.
The edges of Chelsea share the border of what’s left of the Flower District, NoMad and Koreatown so when you turn the corner of Sixth Avenue to walk down West 28th Street, you walk right into what is left of the old Flower District. I walked from one side of West 28th to the other and made it back to Holy Apostles to go to the bathroom and then headed back down West 28th Street to sees sites and stores that I had visited when walking the neighborhood when exploring NoMad.
Behind the church is the housing that formally union housing for the International Ladies Garment Union housing, now known as “Penn South”, that was created in the 1950’s for housing for union workers. Contruction started in 1960 and these ten building still house some of the elderly members of the union. In the courtyard of building Seven is dedicated to Bayard Rustin, a civil rights and union member who lived there. There is a memorial plaque to him in the courtyard Wiki).
The plaque dedicated to the activities is outside Building Seven between Eighth and Seventh Avenues
As I traveled the border of the neighborhood on West 28th Street from Ninth to Sixth Avenues, I have never seen so much transition on a street. On one side of the street is the back part of my Alma Mater ‘The Fashion Institute of Technology’. It seems that the college is taking the back loading dock area and building an addition to the college.
On the other side of the street between Eighth and Seventh, the entire street has either been knocked down and rebuilt or older buildings renovated but the entire block between the two avenues is brand new. Since my initial trip almost two years ago, the entire block between Eighth and Seventh Avenue has been rebuilt with new buildings and the few remaining older buildings have been renovated for business offices.
As you cross Seventh Avenue at West 28th Street are the last remnants of the former “Flower District” which dominated these blocks here and along Sixth Avenue until the area was rezoned in the 1990’s. Now Sixth Avenue in this area is now apartment buildings and hotels. Still there are many commercial flower shops here and some amazing floral businesses along this block.
Mahir Floral & Event Designs at 156 West 28th Street is one of the nicest flower shops in the district (See my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). The store is so beautifully designed to showcase not only the flowers but the decorative items that they sell along with the plants and flowers.
Mahir Floral & Event Designs at 156 West 28th Street
There are all sorts of interesting design pieces that not only make the perfect gift but also to create the perfect event.
The store is so beautifully designed to showcase their items
Another wonderful store is Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street. What I love about the store is the way it is designed when you walk through it. It is like walking through an enchanted tropical garden with paths down exotic trees and flowers on all sides. They have a big commercial and retail business according to the salesperson I talked to that day.
Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street
In the front of the store when the weather is warm, it is lined with the most seasonal flowers and plants. When you walk through the store, it is like walking through an Amazon jungle in a warm climate at any month of the year. Just touring this store is fun.
Walking through Foliage Paradise is an experience
What brought back a lot of good memories when I walked down West 28th Street was walking past the Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street. This was my starting point of my morning of walking “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile excursion around the Island of Manhattan over the summer of 2021 (before I pulled my back out).
The Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street has the most amazing views
I had the most interesting room on the 10th floor with the most breathtaking view of Midtown Manhattan. I would just sit on the bed looking at the views before going to sleep. You have never seen a site than Midtown all lit up at night.
The Lower Garment District shares the border with the NoMAD and Koreatown neighborhoods and even over the last few months I have noticed some significant changes in the blocks that I had explored for the blog. Many buildings had been finished that were under construction or were in the process of being renovated. They still looked empty but there were better days ahead when they will be filled with the latest tech and advertising companies. Sixth Avenue is becoming a big commercial and residential neighborhood.
When I finished the walking the borders of the neighborhood, I doubled back to outside the Fashion Institute of Technology and took the subway to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to see the Crawford Rose Garden which was in full bloom. All the flowers have been blooming two weeks in advance and with a series of rainstorms on the way I wanted to see the roses before the knocked all the petals off like it did with the Cherry Blossoms.
I took the 45-minute trip to the Gardens and walked around the rose garden, admiring the flowers colors and smells. The Cranford Rose Garden is one of the oldest sections of the Gardens and when they are in full bloom, they are just amazing to look at and wonder around. This is why you have to see them before the rains come. Roses have about a two-week blooming cycle.
The Cranford Rose Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
After walking all over the rose garden, I explored the rest of gardens, admiring the Children’s Garden with all its plantings and the beauty of the Japanese Gardens even after the Cherry Blossoms were gone. You never tire of these gardens.
The heat had been getting to me all day and it was 93 degrees when I got to the gardens. When I reached the Cherry Blossom Tree lawn, I just stopped and laid down on the grass and just relaxed. I ended up falling asleep under one of the trees and just relaxed for an hour. I was exhausted from a long week.
After I left the gardens for the afternoon, I headed to Chinatown for a quick dinner. I have been watching all thirteen episodes of the Fung Brothers “Cheap Chinatown Eats” videos and I remembered this restaurant their friend mentioned on Catherine Street on the outskirts of Chinatown, more in the Three Bridges neighborhood, Shun Wei at 45 Catherine Street. So, I decided to go there.
Cheap Chinatown Eats Part 9 that mentions Shun Wei
By the time I got to Chinatown from Brooklyn, it was rather late in the day, so I ordered my meal and ate it in the park across the street. Sounds innocent enough but I could see the underlining stares that I got from the restaurant owners, patrons and patrons in the park.
I went to Shun Wei which had been mentioned in the “Chinatown Cheap Eats” video and I thought why not give it a try? I had passed the place many times when I was eating at Catherine Deli right next door (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), so I gave it a try.
I did not want to order Chicken Wings but when I walked in there was a picture in the front window of a Boneless Roast Pork with Roast Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll for $9.95 and it looked really good. I also ordered a side of Fried Dumplings. So, I ordered that and waited for my order. The one thing about the restaurant is that it is located across the street from the Alfred E. Smith Houses and the Hamilton-Madison Houses and caters to the people who live there.
The Roast Pork with Pork Fried Rice was delicious
As I waited for my order to come out, I could see slight stares from the cooks making my food and from the other customers who walked in to get their orders. I guess people had not seen a 6:3 guy before. I just ignored it all and went to Alfred E Smith Park across the street from the restaurant to eat my meal. I figured with all the families in the playground and people sitting on the benches, there would not be any problems.
I noticed the same thing again. It was like I could see out of the corner of my eye people were doing their best in the park not to look at me, but I could see the subtle stares. I just enjoyed my dinner and watched it get darker in the park. I have to tell you that I really enjoyed the food, and they gave you plenty of it. I was stuffed when I was finished and even had to bring the egg roll home with me.
After dinner, I left the park and toured around Chinatown and its fringes. It is really getting scary that even before I went to Shun Wei most of the restaurants were half full or the ones on the fringes were almost empty on a Tuesday night. As I passed through East Broadway, Henry Street, Division Street and then walked up Elridge Street and then crossed onto Canal Street and walked back into Chinatown. At 9:00pm, everything was shutting down for the evening. I can see what the pandemic has done to this neighborhood.
Some of these restaurants used to closed at 11:00pm and some to even 2:00am to cater to the restaurant workers getting off. With more restaurants closing and “For Rent” signs in the windows, I can see the trickle-down effect of all of this. That and all the galleries moving into former restaurant and market spots, I have a feeling it will be in the near future we will be calling this “NoLoChi”, No Longer Chinatown.
As I said before, Manhattan just keeps morphing.
See my other blogs on Walking North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty Seven: Walking the Borders of North Chelsea/Flower District:
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department Annual Inspection May 21st, 2022
For the first time in two years (due to the COVID pandemic), the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department stood for Inspection for the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights.
All department members worked during the week washing, scrubbing and cleaning every piece of apparatus, cleaning all the tools and organizing all the cabinets to be sure that everything was in place. Then we cleaned the fire house from top to bottom. Every room was cleaned and vacuumed and shown the pride the department has in our firehouse.
The Department Inspection was led by Chief Tim Moots, First Assistant Chief Kevin Todd and Second Assistant Chief Mike Greco. The members stood attention for the flag salute, a special greeting by Chief Moots and speeches by invited dignitaries.
The Department invited the community to join in inspecting all of the department’s equipment and out of town chiefs judged each piece of apparatus, two engines, the ladder truck, the rescue truck and the two ambulances for appearance and equipment check. The rescue truck won that evening.
After the Inspection of the equipment was over, the members of the fire department and their invited guests joined together for an Italian dinner in our large meeting room. It was nice way for everyone to come together after a two-year gap.
Good luck and Godspeed to all members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in 2022!
I have been a member of the Museum of the City of New York for almost twenty years and what I love about the museum is that its concentration is to be everything about New York City and what makes the City so great. Its development from a Dutch Colony to the Modern Metropolis that it is today. It covers the history so well that they created a permanent display entitled “New York at its Core”, an extensive history of the City from its start as being…
I have been a member of the Cornell Club for over a decade and enjoy all the special programs that the Club sponsors. There are so many interesting Alumni to meet along the way and many of them go out of their way to socialize and engage with other Alumni.
Having finally put my major Marketing project with my class behind me and having given the Final Exam the night before, I was able to join other Club members for an evening out to see “Romeo & Bernadette” that was to be followed by a Q & A with the author of the Book and Lyrics, Mark Saltzman.
Romeo & Bernadette at Theater 555 in Manhattan
The production like most on Broadway was in previews right before COVID hit and was just about ready to open when New York City closed on March 13th, 2020. This shut down everything in New York City. We went to see the production as it had reopened again and the week before the reviewers came out to see it.
It was a cute little production Off-Broadway that told the story of Romeo who was wooing his beloved Juliet, and both were drinking sleeping potions and then poison. Somehow Romeo got these mixed up and woke up in modern times. It kept in character of that time in modern Bensonhurst (I must have dozed off for a minute because it took some time to get the connection).
Talking about the Production
The Penza family travels to Verona with Bernadette traveling with her parents, Sal and Camille (Camille’s family is originally from Verona). Romeo sees Bernadette and mistakes her for Juliet and then the rest of the story moves to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. With a lot of twists and turns, Romeo charms Bernadette and love conquers all.
The only problem I had with the production is that I am getting tired of stereotypes people have of Italians in New York City. With everything going on in the world right now I thought they could have modernized the story a bit more. Still, I keep a good personally and enjoyed the show. The cast could really sing, and it was a very upbeat production.
The funny part was that because we got to pick our seats and I ordered the tickets immediately when the program came up, I picked a seat in the front so that I would have leg room. I ended up sitting next to the brother-in-law of the actress who played Bernadette, Anna Kostakis.
He spent the rest of the production when we had a free moment talking about her career starting with high school productions right up to making candy and working in the family restaurant in Rochester, NY. He then told me the family history of the restaurant. It was interesting how actors kept busy during the lockdown. I had to ask what his opinion was of the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. I was only kidding but he was serious of his thoughts of the film.
Still, it was nice to see how proud he and the rest of her family were of her to make it to Broadway. She had gone from starring in her high school plays to make it all the way to an Off-Broadway production is quite an accomplishment.
The audience reaction to the show before its release
I really enjoyed the performance, and it is a fun show to go see. All the actors can really belt a tune and the songs really played on the neighborhood situations that bring the story of Romeo and Juliet into modern times with a good twist to it.
After the show was over, I said goodbye to my seatmate and waited with other club members to talk with Mark Saltzman. Because of the COVID restrictions and wearing masks in the theater, we had to keep the Q & A short. We asked where the inspiration came from and how he built on the story. Many of the members asked about his experiences up in Ithaca and that is when the answers got fun. Everyone always likes to look back. It was a consensus amongst the Alumni that we enjoyed the show and we wished him luck in bringing it to Broadway.
After the show was over, the heavens opened up outside the theater and the rain that was predicted arrived in Manhattan. People left the theater with umbrellas out and sloshed along the streets. Everyone started to make their way down West 42nd Street very quickly.
I just had to walk back in the slushy rainstorm that would not let up until Sunday afternoon. I wanted to get to bed as soon I as I got home. The next morning, I had to be on the first bus into Manhattan to start “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk of Manhattan.
Read my blog on “The Great Saunter Walk” the next morning:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Six: Completing the Official “Great Saunter Walk” May 7th, 2022:
I was hungry but not starved so I stopped at my favorite ‘Dollar Slice’ place, 2 Brothers Pizza at 542 9th Avenue right behind the Port Authority for a quick snack. This has always been my ‘go-to’ place for a quick bite since they opened up about fifteen years ago and their pizza is consistently good.
I am always amazed by the characters that eat at this place late at night. That’s the neighborhood for you. It makes it more interesting when you are all dressed up and eating there. I can only imagine what the other customers thought of me.
I just wanted to get back on the bus and get ready for the next day’s walk.
I have been to Lucky Larry’s Luncheonette, which is one town over from me, for both breakfast and lunch and I have to say that the food, service and atmosphere are very homey and down to earth. It is a real neighborhood spot, one of those places that the locals hang out to meet one another and catch up on town gossip.
The Lucky Larry’s logo
Blog under the old Lucky Larry’s:
It is more of a deli than a restaurant so there is limited seating but that does not stop the crowd of diners from eating and relaxing there. They will even bring your order to the…
When I was visiting Rehoboth Beach, DE recently the museum I had wanted to visit in Rehoboth was closed for the day, so I remembered that there were a few museums in Lewes, DE, a small town right down the highway so I headed there and found the Lewes History Museum at 101 Adams Avenue. The museum was the old library which has since moved across the street.
The museum is very interesting and well set up. The museum is one big room that is broken down in different sections which helps explain the history of the town. Each display moves you through the…
I had been sent the notice that the County of Morris, New Jersey was having a two-day Open House of many of their historical sites for touring and for special events for a program entitled “The Pathways of History: Museum and Site Tours of Morris County, NJ”.
The “Pathways to History” event takes place every May
The weekend event spread to small museums, historical homes and cemeteries all over the County with walking tours and lectures at various sites. Having never been or even heard of many of these sites, I was interested in visiting as many as I could for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” which is here on WordPress.com as well.
I plotted my two days of the event and tried to organize the trip so that we could see as many sites as we could. The event asked the sites to open one of the two days as most of these sites are small and have a tough time getting volunteers. So, I tried to coordinate the sites I had wanted to visit with visiting other places along the way such as farm stands I wanted to visit and restaurants I wanted to try.
The map of historical sites that I wanted to visit
I recruited my aunt to help me take pictures of the sites and travel with me to get her opinions on each of the sites. She also wanted to get out of the house and travel with me so off we went. We started the day with a good breakfast at the Blue Cafe at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaSheStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I like the hometown atmosphere and service of the restaurant.
The Blue Cafe at 273 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Not wanting to snack along the way, both my aunt and I had a large breakfast. She had an Egg White Omelet with bacon and tomatoes with a side of hashbrowns and toast ($8.95). I had the Pancake Platter which came with two pancakes and two scrambled eggs with a side of link sausage ($8.95). I have to say that everything came to the table promptly and was delicious. The portion sizes were very fair, and the service could not have been nicer.
We needed a good breakfast at Blue Cafe for the long journey
My pancakes were perfectly cooked and had that nice, malted taste and the scrambled eggs had a nice taste of clarified butter. The sausage had a nice spicy sage taste to it. My aunt could not finish her eggs and asked me to take some. They were delicious as well. The flavors of the bacon and the tomatoes had a nice complexity to them and the hashbrowns were well seasoned and crisp.
My pancakes and eggs that morning was delicious
With a nice breakfast behind us and a warm sunny day, we both looked forward to visiting the sites without stopping much. We travelled down Route 80 and then down Route 206, which once upon a time was one of the only highways to travel through the State of New Jersey. It took us down to Route 24 through the rolling hills of Chester, NJ and to our first stop, the Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Mill at 12 East Mill Road in Long Valley, NJ.
East Mill Road lead into a quaint little town that looked like something out of the early 1800’s with older clapboard homes and historic churches with old cemeteries surround them in a highly wooded spot. It reminded me of my trips through the Hudson River Valley.
The Obadiah La Tourette Grist & Mill at 12 East Mill Road
The Grist Mill was fascinating. The mill has been a working mill from the early 1800’s until about the late 1930’s, during the Depression when they needed to expand operations. The place had pretty much been abandoned until the 1980’s when it had been falling apart by the side of the road and concerned citizens got together to save it. It is now going through a renovation.
What the mill looked like in 1993
When I toured both the upstairs and the downstairs, upstairs was all the equipment to move the wheat and bundle it for processing and for milling. I even saw amongst the equipment the old portion size bagging attachment where the final packaging took place.
On the lower level of the mill, you could see the stream under the building and the turbine wheels of the old mill still placed in the stream and along the side of the mill. You could view from the deck the workings of the equipment and how the stream powered the mill itself. You could also see the flow of the stream and how it is now affecting the structure of the building.
It is amazing how we survived with just Mother Nature at one time
The staff takes immense pride in the building structure and how the renovation is coming along as well as its unique history. The tour guides could not have been more enthusiastic about explaining to myself, my aunt and the other visitors about the history of the mill, the way they milled the flour and the ongoing structure improvements. It was also so picturesque with the small flowing stream and woods that surrounded it.
We walked along the property back to the car and please to all readers, watch yourself on the road because for some reason everyone was speeding that morning and there is no sidewalk. Remember to walk to the back of the buildings to view the stream, the woods and all the historical homes in this little hamlet.
Our next stop was on the other side of the stream and around the corner from the mill. We visited the Union Schoolhouse & Union Church and Burial Ground at 6 Fairview Avenue in Long Valley, NJ. The Union Schoolhouse has been converted into Washington Township Historical Society building housing its collection. The Union Church burned down years earlier and was left is a stone structure that you can view inside and out. The church is surrounded by the old cemetery where prominent members of the community are buried.
The Washington Township Historical Society at 6 Fairview Avenue
The Union Schoolhouse/Washington Township Historical Society is a well-organized two-story building, that houses a collection of antique objects from the community. There was a set up a school room, selection of quilts, old dishware, antique furniture and on the first floor a complete display of the Welsh Farms Ice Cream Company and Dairy.
The second-floor school room reflects the buildings past as a schoolhouse
The original ice cream factory (no longer exists) used to be right down the road from the old schoolhouse and members of the Welsh family are buried in the cemetery. I thought that was fascinating as I never knew it had been started here.
The local Welsh family started the Welsh Farm Dairy and Ice Cream factory down the road
The Welsh Family cemetery plot
I toured through the old church with another patron and the tour guide while my aunt, who did not want to walk on the uneven ground of the cemetery got her own verbal tour with one of the members of the historical society. We got to walk through the cemetery and see the graves of the prominent families that were once members of the church. We also got to see how the staff used tombstone cleaner to make the tombstones brighter.
The Union Church and Cemetery
What was also impressive about the building was the beautiful flower garden that lined the stone wall between the schoolhouse and the cemetery. One of the local Garden Clubs must have planted and taken care of the gardens because they were so well pruned and planted. It was so colorful with an array of flowers line with blooming tulips along the path.
The old Washington Township Schoolhouse is now the museum
On the way back down Route 24, my aunt and I decided to stop for a snack. We stopped at an old favorite mine that I have been visiting since the early 1970’s, the Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill at 104 State Park Road which is right outside Hacklebarney State Park, which I had also visited many times as a child for walks and barbecues.
The Hacklebarney Cider Mill Farm at 104 State Park Road
I love coming to Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill at all times of the year. It is especially best in the late Spring and in the Fall months when the leaves are changing, and all the Halloween events are happening. The farm had opened their hot dog stand early on customer demand the owner explained to us as well as made sure the bakery was well-stocked for visitors on the tours.
The hot dog stand and the work buildings remind you that this is a working farm and not a tourist trap
We toured through the bakery, and I ordered a Cider doughnut ($2.95) and a Fruit Dumpling ($3.95) for dessert, and we shared a Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla ($5.95) and two Cokes for our lunch (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). It was so nice to just sit and relax and enjoy the weather.
The wonderful baked goods at the Hacklebarney Farm bakery
The Quesadilla was well made and stuffed with lots of chicken and cheese and the salsa had a nice spicy flavor to it. I love the crispiness of their Cider doughnuts with lots of cinnamon sugar on top of them. The Fruit Dumpling was filled with fresh blueberries and strawberries and had nice buttery sweetness to it. We devoured everything in record time, and I could not believe how hungry we both were that afternoon. Maybe it was all the driving or maybe it was just looking over all the rolling hills and the soft breezes from the field.
We got a chance to talk to the owner again when she came over with an old picture of the farmhouse that her great-grandparents had built and the pride that they took in all their baked goods. She told us that everything is made from scratch in their kitchen and all the fruits are hand peeled for their desserts. In the Fall, I have watched them make their apple cider on property and you can watch the steps to make the cider you will buy inside (when it is in season, make the trip out here for it. It is well worth the trip).
The Hacklebarney Farm family farmhouse
After a relaxing afternoon of relaxing, playing with their dogs and walking around the farm, we left for Downtown Chester, which is located right down Route 24 and on the other side of Route 206. We passed the old shell of a building that was once Larison’s Turkey Farm Inn which closed in 2009.
The old Larison’s Turkey Farm building is a reminder of changing times
I had eaten here a few times with my family over the years and you used to be able to get a full turkey dinner for a reasonable price. Forget trying to visit the place at Thanksgiving. The place is now falling apart, and I read online that they want to knock down this historic landmark for a strip mall.
Our next site on the listing was the Chester Historical Society or otherwise known as the Chester’s Rockefeller Center at 137 Main Street. Main Street Chester was a madhouse on Saturday as there was a food truck festival going on in the park downtown and traffic was all over the place. We must have circled the downtown three times looking for the Historical Society.
The soon to be Chester Historical Society at 137 Main Street
We finally found the empty building that was falling apart right next to the park. All that the historical society was an empty building that had been moved to the park and a kiosk that was closed off by the food truck festival. When we were able to stop and talk to the members who were there, they were closing up shop for the afternoon.
They said they were showing the plans for the renovation of the building and how they wanted to store the collection. That is what amounted to their current historical society. It was a work in progress. The little building was built in 1897 and was ordered from the Sears & Roebuck Company.
The Chester Historical Society is just beginning to be established
We quickly got out of downtown Chester and headed back up Route 206 North and took some back roads to our final destination that afternoon, the Silas Riggs Saltbox House/The Roxbury Township Historical Society at 213 Main Street in Ledgewood, NJ and the King Canal Store and the King Victorian Home at 209 and 211 Main Street right next store to the house. The sites were closing up shop for the afternoon, but they were nice enough to stay open so that we could have a long visit.
I am so happy that we could visit the sites as the people running them were so interesting and they took such good care of the sites. A few of the volunteers said that this always happens that someone comes late, and they were hoping to close on time, but they take such pride in all these sites that they did not mind staying for us.
Our first stop was the King Canal Store. The store had been sealed off after the death of Albert King by his wife, Emma. After his passing, she followed his wishes and closed the store down only opening it during the Great Depression when locals needed supplies.
After Mrs. King’s death in 1975, the store and her home, the King Homestead were bought by the Rotary Club of Roxbury, NJ and they set out to renovate and restore the site. The King Canal Store was left untouched and is a step back in time when the Morris Canal was a major form of transportation in the state. The store had been open since the Civil War and closed on the eve of the Great Depression even though the family had been seeing declining sales since the closing of the canal to traffic.
The King Canal Store is a step back in time when this was the neighborhood gathering place
Next to the King Canal Store at 211 Main Street is the King Homestead built in the Queen Ann style by Albert King for his family. The house was closed by that point, but I was able to walk the grounds and on the porch. It is a spectacular home.
The last place on the tour before we ended the first day of touring sites was the Silas Riggs Saltbox House at 213 Main Street. The home had been Emma Riggs King’s parents and it had been moved to this site when it was threatened with demolition. The home is a perfect example of the “Saltbox” architectural style.
The Silas Riggs Saltbox House/The Roxbury Historical Society at 213 Main Street
I loved touring this smart little house. Talk about well taken care of and well appointed. The home is well decorated with vintage antiques and artifacts and when you walk in the door you have this welcoming feeling. The house is so warm and cosey that volunteers have commented that people feel that they could move in here.
The front room of the Silas Riggs Saltbox House
What I enjoyed about the Silas Riggs Saltbox house is that the home was decorated in period furnishings that all worked to welcome you into the home. It was almost like the people who lived there just left for the afternoon.
What I really liked about the house was the back-room kitchen with the open hearth. Not only was it a perfect place to cook but it must have been the gathering place for the family and also heated the house. One of the volunteers told me that they had a successful “Soup Dinner” fundraiser during the holidays where they made homemade soup from scratch and homemade cornbread as well. It must be nice to eat a hearty meal in this period home during Christmas as the family once did.
The rustic kitchen at the Silas Riggs Saltbox House
After the house closed for the after, all the other sites had closed at 4:00pm as well and we made our way down Route 10 just off the old main street and then back on to Route 46 East to head home. It had been getting warmer all day and we both needed a snack before dinner. It was by coincidence that we just happened to pass the Dover Dairy Maid Ice Cream store at 240 East Route 46 and stopped for a cone.
Never having travelled down this part of Route 46 East before, I had never seen this popular place for ice cream and all of a sudden, I turned the car and needed some ice cream. There are times in life that you take a different bend in the road, and this was one of the more popular ones. Their homemade ice cream was amazing.
The Dover Dairy Maid at 240 East Route 46 is the best
While my aunt tried the Mint Chocolate ice cream, I had a yearning for something more fun and I got a bowl of Cotton Candy ice cream and at $5.45 for two large scoops, it was a reasonable trip. It is nice that a business not only does not gouge a customer but offers that personal service was reflective of when I was a kid in the 1970’s when this business opened. I felt like it was a step back in time when things were simpler. We even at our ice cream out on the benches in the back of the store. Talk about 70’s! Between here and Hacklebarney Farm I felt like a kid again.
There was no traffic on Route 46 East that evening and got home in record time. My aunt and I needed some recovery time, so I dropped her off and met her for dinner later that evening. We finished off the evening at Napoli Pizzeria at 25 Washington Street #2 in Lodi, NJ for dinner. Napoli’s food is consistently excellent, and I love their pizza. The best part is that the parking is always plentiful and never have to travel far to go.
Napoli Pizzeria at 25 Washington Street #2 is wonderful for lunch and dinner
It was a nice evening chatting over a cheese pizza ($10.95) and a glass of wine. We talked about all the sites we had visited and the ones that we could not and made plans to revisit some of the sites in the future. There was a lot more to see and do in Morris County. It was a nice way to end the first day of touring and it had been such a perfect sunny day that it was a pleasure to stop and really enjoy each site.
The historical marker at the Ayres-Knuth Farm at 25 Cooper Street
On the second day of the “Pathways’ tour, my aunt was busy, so I started early with a quick breakfast at home and was on my way back to Morris County for a second day of adventure. My first stop on the tour was the Ayres/Knuth Farm (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation Inc.), a former working farm just off Route 10.
The main farmhouse on the Ayres/Knuth Farm
Not only was the site open for touring but they also had a mini car show with antique cars and fire trucks owned by some of the members. Seeing some of these Model T Ford’s and Steam Engine Fire Trucks in perfect condition shows American quality motorship at its finest.
What interested me about the farm is that it had been a working farm up until the last fifty years and showed the progression that the farm took in its almost 100 years in the county. The farm itself dates back to pre-Revolutionary War days with the farm being purchase in either 1735 or maybe 1759 by Obadiah Lum. The property itself was settled and developed by Daniel Ayres, who was born in New Jersey in 1778 (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation).
The Ayres-Knuth Farm and the outer buildings
105 acres of land was given to him by his father-in-law, David Garrigus upon the marriage of his daughter, Hanna in 1803. His son, William took over the farm in 1856 upon the death of his father in 1856, changing the farm to add husbandry and fruit cultivation. When William retired in 1896, none of his children wanted the farm and it was sold. Changing hands many times, it was bought by Martin and Anna Knuth in 1906. The farm was taken over by two of their children and it remained in the family until the 1990’s upon both of their passings. In 1996, the Township of Denville purchased 52 acres of the original farm and it is now managed by the Ayres/Knuth Foundation Inc. (The Ayres/Knuth Farm Foundation).
On this clear and sunny Sunday morning, it was fun to walk around the former working farm to see how it developed. Both families learned to modernize and add to the operation. I was able to tour the smaller tenet farmhouse (built in 1895), the barn (built in 1895 (and the various outer buildings like the chicken coops (built in 1895), outhouse (built in 1930) and the Smokehouse (built in 1825). The small well was built in 1797 and was the oldest structure left on the property.
What got my attention is that there still are tenant farmers on another tract on the property still working the land and the property is protected by grants from Morris County. So, it still is technically a working farm. A lot of care was taken to preserve the farm as is and the volunteers told me that there were plans to fix up the other buildings. The Tenant House needed a lot of work and was run down but the main Farmhouse had been renovated and was closed that day.
After having a nice conversation with many of the volunteers about the development on the farm, I was off to the next site, The Whippany Railway Museum at 1 Railroad Plaza in Whippany, NJ. I usually don’t get excited by railway museums one looking like another but the care and dedication of the volunteers of this museum is just mesmerizing. They really care about the detail and condition of every railcar and artifact that comes into possession of this museum, and it shows by the way its displayed.
The Museum was so well organized and told the story of the rail systems not just in New Jersey but their development all over the country. Unlike some rail museums that I have been to where they put dishes, lanterns and tickets all the same shelves, the Whippany Railway Museum took a lot of pride in setting up their displays more as a progression to how the railways evolved over time starting with coal, then to steam and then electric.
Not only that it was the way people traveled and how dining and then First Class tried to rival the growing Jet Age travel to keep customers. Each case line told a story. The cases show a progression in communication, ticketing, uniform, dining and equipment used on the trains. Take time to look over the information supplied in the cases as well. They also have a nice gift shop inside the museum.
It was the hour-long walking tour that really blew me away. This volunteer named Mike walked around the museum asking people if they would like to take a tour at noon and then for the next hour and a half, we toured all the train cars.
Each of the train cars were at different stages of renovation and some were fully restored. Mike explained to our small tour group that different members of the museum had special skills, and everyone had a hand in restoring the cars. The volunteers all dressed like period conductors and would be stationed at each car to describe the railcar to us.
Where the museum really shines and where I saw the most pride is in the rail cars that have come to the yard over the years and have been carefully restored. The Southern Railway No. 385 built in 1907 for faster freight service, the Texaco Fireless Cooker No. 7240 built in 1937 for industrial switching duty and one of the newest steam locomotives still surviving, the U.S. Army No. 4039 built in 1942 for WWII service are just some of the cars on display (Whippany Railway Museum pamphlet).
The railcar that most impressed me was the Lackawanna Railroad Subscription Club Car No. 2454 that was once known as the “Millionaires Express” (Whippany Railway Museum). The mahogany paneled car carried businessmen from New York City through towns in the middle of New Jersey. What I thought was interesting was the people who rode it (Christie Todd Whitman’s father was a member) and the fact that you had to ‘buy’ the seat, which meant that no one could ever sit in ‘your chair’ if you were not there. This car ran for 72 years finally retiring out in 1984 (probably due to the recession and changing times).
After the extensive tour was over, I visited the model trains that were riding around the outside of the rail cars and talking with other volunteers on what the future plans of a new railcar that just arrived. I also walked up to their snack shop that is at entrance of the museum site and was bummed when they did not have any of the large pretzels in stock. The woman said that they are their most popular item and had not arrived for the tour day. I then moved on to my third site, The Whippany Burying Yard at 325 Route 10 East.
The Whippany Burying Yard was also having a tour that I just made when I arrived. It was given by a retired college professor who had lived in town all of his life and knew the history of the cemetery quite well. The old cemetery is steeped in history as one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey and home to many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans. As we learned on the tour later on, the only people that can be buried there now are former Mayors of the Town of Whippany who have died.
Two of the founding families of the town have many family members buried here, the Tuttle’s who still have relatives living in the area and the Kitchel’s. The guide for the afternoon took us on an hour tour of the cemetery, pointing out prominent members of the war years including Timothy Tuttle (died 1754), a founding judge of Morris County, Keturah Tuttle Platt (died 1850), who was a Charter member of the First Presbyterian Church, Captain Timothy Tuttle (II of III-died in 1816), who was a member of George Washington’s First Regiment in the Continental Army, Samuel Tuttle (died in 1762) and Colonel Joseph Tuttle, a blacksmith and Deacon at the Presbyterian Church who served in the French & Indian War.
The entrance to the Whippany Burial Yard
The Kitchel family was prominently represented as well with Abraham Kitchel (died in 1741), who was one of the six original judges of Morris County and his wife Sarah, whose family was claimed to date back to Charlemagne, Emperor of France, Abigal Kitchel (died in 1768), Uzal Kitchel (died in 1813), a Militiaman in the American Revolution and his wife, Anna (died in 1815). Many of these people as well as their ancestors made major contributions to the growth of the surrounding community.
We were also given a lesson in the construction and care of the old tombstones, some of which were beyond repair. Some of the original grave sites were made from sandstone, marble and granite with granite becoming the popular choice later on. Here and there some of the tombstones were decorated with winged skulls or cherubs. These show morality images of the dead (Whippany Burial Yard pamphlet).
We were also walking by the river that the graveyard sits on and were told that current erosian is affecting some of the grave sites. These might have to be moved in the future and the tour guide was not sure if any have been lost over the years. The old Presbyterian Church that sat on the site (built in 1718 and removed in 1755) has since disappeared and there is no trace of it now.
The Whippany Burial Yard has many different types of tombstones
At the end of the tour, the guide explained to us that the old Tuttle House, dating back from the late 18th Century was just left to the town by its last owner to be preserved as a museum for the community. The Tuttle house will need a lot of work in the future.
The Tuttle House at 341 Route 10 will be a future museum for the Historical Society
It was getting late in the day after my last tour, and I figured I had time to see one more site before the day was over. I wished they did not end the day so early at 4:00pm. It does not give people much time to visit all these sites in one day, but the museum tour guides made them so interesting that you did not want to leave so quick.
My last stop on the tour day was the Florham Park’ Historic Preservation Commission’s Little Red Schoolhouse and Hancock Cemetery at 203 Ridgedale Avenue. On the map it looked so far away but it was only ten minutes down the road from the cemetery and I got there in plenty of time to spend the last half hour of the day at the museum.
The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum at 203 Ridgedale Avenue
I was the only one there with two members who said that they were surprised on how busy the day was for them. They told me that almost every person who visited said the same things: either they passed the place a million times and never knew it was a museum or they lived here for about twenty years and never knew the town had a museum. I said I was from another area of the state, and this was my first time as well. The little museum is nicely set up.
In the back there is a small classroom set up keeping with the theme of the building. This lets students who are visiting the building of their counterpart’s early education with desks, ink wells and chalk boards that have not changed that much over the years. There are old desks and chalkboards and items that date either from the late 1880’s to about the 1930’s.
Not much has changed in the modern classroom over the years
There is early century clothing, farming equipment from the town’s farming past and event Native American objects found in the town and in private collections. Other items included decorative items from the home including dishware, home products and furnishings. Each section of the museum is divided up by lifestyle.
The docents that day explained that the items were reflect the town’s past and some came from families that have been in town for years. The museum reflects the community spirit of town’s past. It explains that times have progressed but not changed too much over the years. They also told me how hard they work to promote the museum.
I asked where the Hancock Cemetery was, and they told me down the road from the museum, so I left after about a half hour to let them close and looked for the cemetery. I never found it “down the road” so I was not too sure what direction they were talking about. By the time I got back to the museum, it was shut, and all the cars were gone. It was now 4:30pm. I decided to head off to dinner.
I got lost trying to take the back roads from Route 10 to Route 46 (later on when I got home, I found I was in the right direction but did not know it). I passed the Parsippany Historical Museum at the Bowlsby-DeGelleke House at 320 Baldwin Avenue on the way but at 5:00pm I could see one of the costumed docents was desperately trying to close up for the day, so I did not stop.
I finally made it to Downtown Boonton, NJ for dinner. The town was really quiet on an early Sunday evening. I passed the Boonton Historical Society and Museum at 210 Main Street that was closed for the evening. They had a full day of activities that day and must have closed early.
Boonton Historical Society and Museum at 210 Main Street
Ever since I got involved in the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association, I have been visiting this interesting little museum. They have the most intriguing walking tours on the history of the town’s development and on the ruins of the local iron works. They also have nice inhouse tours of the museum and very inviting Holiday Open House (pre-COVID).
Dinner that evening was a restaurant I had wanted to try several times but it either was not open or did not look open because there was no one in it. I2I at 408 Main Street just up the hill from the museum.
I had been looking forward to eating here for some time and even though the food and the service were quite good, the owner did something that really irked me, and I will not be returning anytime soon. (Please read my TripAdvisor review above for details on my experience).
After dinner, I walked around Downtown Boonton for a bit, looking over stores that had opened since the pandemic. The downtown is getting more and more hipster businesses and you can tell that an ‘artsy’ crowd is starting to move into the area. All the neighborhoods around the downtown are having a lot of home improvements from new paint jobs and windows to new landscaping meaning the artists from the City are starting to move in.
Please read my blog on Exploring Downtown Boonton, NJ-Day Two Hundred and Two:
I drove home later that evening. It had been an interesting two-day exploration to Morris County, NJ and I did not realize the rich history that it had. There are many more places that will be visiting in the future on their list as they open up for the summer months.
Please look at their link for more details and happy exploring!
On my last stop of touring Historic Morris County for the “Pathways for History ” event, I visited the Whippany Burial Yard at 325 Route 10 in Whippany. The old cemetery is steeped in history as one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey and home to many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans. As we learned on the tour later on, the only people that can be buried there now are former Mayors of the Town of Whippany who have died.
Two of the founding families of the town have many family members buried here, the Tuttle’s who still have relatives living in the area and the Kitchel’s. The guide for the afternoon took us on an hour tour…