Exploring the History of New Jersey and Beyond!

Architecture, National Park Sites, Local Sites, and More!

Where to?

Somerset County, Morris County... even Cape May County!

No Place is too Small...

What may seem minute and insignificant is what makes history!


Not only do I like to write about history - I love covering events too!

Spread the History!

Help bring awareness to the historic sites in your area.

From historic figures to historic places...

I want to teach America just how significant New Jersey is!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Weekend Estate Sales: 2/1/13 - 2/3/13

Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
Hosting an estate sale? Send me an e-mail to be featured in our weekly post!
Be the first to know about these sales on Facebook!

Pre-Colombian Pottery
Far Hills, NJ 07931
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Antique Furniture & Clocks
Montclair, NJ 07042
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Same Time)

Antique Books, Dolls and Trunks
Surf City Boro, NJ 08008
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Antique Trunk, Vintage Sewing Machines
South Plainfield, NJ 07080
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Same Time)

Antique Furniture Sets
North Plainfield, NJ 07060
9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Baseball Memorabilia
Union, NJ 07083
9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Golden Age of Shopping: Downtown Newark

The Golden Age of Shopping: Downtown Newark
Written by NJ Historian

In a time before malls and regional shopping centers filled New Jersey's landscape, Newark was a prime shopping destination. Imagine hopping into the family car, on a bus, or train in the 1940s or 1950s and spending the day in Newark shopping, eating at restaurants, or watching a show. Crowds on busy streets passed by stores with large plate-glass windows displaying the newest fashions and most modern conveniences. While the intersection of Broad and Market streets, known as the Four Corners, was Newark’s commercial hub, just a few blocks away, the area around Military Park presented a different kind of experience  It was known as "Ladies’ Mile" for the stores that catered to the elegant ladies who bought the finest objects in America. This was the Golden Age in Newark. But as quickly as it came, it ended by the 1970s, when new indoor malls and big-box stores began to spring up in suburban locations such as Menlo Park and Bergen County. These behemoths of commercialization in Newark still stand today, battered by neglect, but still proudly displaying the names of the stores that were synonymous with downtown Newark. Yet, all good things must come to an end, and for the iconic buildings on two blocks of Broad Street between Cedar Street and New Street, their time has come.

This two block area of Broad Street, between Cedar and New Streets, filled with small shops and businesses, was a prestigious residential area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with mansions lining the streets. Gradually, the grand homes were replaced by shops and stores in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as businesses attempted to move closer toward the rapidly expanding northern portion of Newark where the wealthier were settling. Broad Street became the most prestigious shopping area of the business district and contained the largest concentration of department stores in Newark, including Hahne and Company, Plaut's, Kresge's, and Goerke's. 

The McCrory's building on the corner of Cedar and Broad Streets, is a four-story, eleven bay, brick, rectangular building constructed in phases between 1892 and 1900. The Art Moderne, terra-cotta clad exterior that we see today on the front of the building was added in the late 1940s. The original brick, circa 1892, is still visible on the Cedar Street side, but all of the windows have been boarded up. A large sign, stylistic of the Art Moderne era, was over three stories in height and remains affixed to the building. The first floor also had a marquee that extended across the front and around the corner. 

The William V. Snyder Dry Goods Store, circa 1910.
The McCrory's building began its life about 1892 as the William V. Snyder Company Dry Goods Store. The store was built in a classical style with double-hung windows across the front in evenly placed fenestration. The top of the building had a pressed tin cornice and above the first floor windows was an entablature with a canopy. The William V. Snyder Dry Goods Store became part of Goerke's Department Store around 1923. In the early 1940s, a new tenant, McCrory's, opened in the space. Shortly after opening, McCrory's modernized the building's exterior in the Art Moderne style. McCrory's offered a restaurant on the second floor and even had its own subway platform. In 1927, Kresege's, the department store on the opposite corner, opened a platform in Newark's subway at its basement level, allowing customers to come in directly from the subway. The station was opened in January on the inbound side. The only access was through the store. Kresge's was a general store similar to Woolworth's. The company now operates the Kmart chain.

The McCrory's store on the opposite side of Cedar Street followed suit and built a platform on the outbound side in August 1929, directly opposite Kresge's. Again, the only access was through the store. Since it was on the outbound side, this platform was used mainly as a store exit. The platforms drew people into the stores just to change cars between routes in the tunnel and routes out on Broad Street. The subway lasted until 1938, when the rails were paved over and buses operated in the subway until 1966, however historians believe that the platforms closed much earlier than 1966. Today, the McCrory's platform has been sealed, but the Kresge platform is still visible underground. McCrory's continued to operate in Newark until the mid-1970s.

The former McCrory's and S. Klein on the Square, 2013.

S. Klein
S. Klein, On The Square is an eight-story, five bay, skeletal steel frame structure with brick and terra cotta cladding. Newark architect William E. Lehman designed this building in 1923 as part of the Goerke's Department Store complex. On December 2, 1937, it became Hearn's Department Store. James A. Hearn & Son, founded in 1827, at one point had been Macy's main rival in New York. Over the years, at least three additions were made to the rear of the building, resulting in a very narrow, but long building that forms an "L" at its rear along Halsey Street.

S. Klein, On The Square opened in 1949 in the former Hearn's building. The company was owned by Meshulam Riklis Rapid American Corp., who also owned the McCrory store chains. In addition to Newark, S. Klein stores were located in Alexandria, Maryland, New York City, and Virginia. At their Newark location, the company erected a large sign on the building facade and remains a local landmark. The "S." is two stories tall and "On The Square" covers an area over four floors in height. The name “On The Square,” means, “honest and straight up." S. Klein was a different kind of store, unlike its predecessors and the more upscale department stores in Newark such as Hahne & Company and Bamberger's. S. Klein's was a more economical shopping alternative and catered to the working class. In 1946, Time featured Klein's, providing some insight into how S. Klein's was different from other retailers:
"Klein's is not a pretty place. Its floors are bare. There are no saleswomen. Customers must select dresses themselves from the crude iron racks, try them on in crowded public dressing rooms. Klein's does not advertise—except to keep customers away on holidays when the store is closed."
S. Klein's operated its Newark store until 1976 and has remained vacant since.

Broad Street circa 1950s, showing the S. Klein Store and the new Art Moderne facade on McCrory's.

The Schrafft's Building is a three-story, five bay, brick, Colonial Revival-influenced commercial building. It is located on the corner of Broad and West Park Streets. Constructed in 1933, Schrafft's was a chain of high-volume, moderately-priced New York restaurants connected to the Schrafft's food and candy business of Boston. They offered large, pleasant dining rooms "in the better areas," which often attracted women who were in these areas for shopping, such as "Ladies Mile" in Newark. Women out for lunch represented the bulk of the customers at Schrafft's restaurants. Schrafft's was one of the first restaurant chains to perfect a "signature style" of interior decor including walnut woodwork and early American period furniture. Most of the Schafft's chain closed by the late 1970s, including the Newark location. The building was vacant for a number of years after its closing. The upper floors have remained vacant since at least 1985 and sometime after 1985 the first floor reopened as a retail operation called "Beauty in Everyone."

Wiss Building
The Wiss Building is a ten-story, three bay, "L" shaped building constructed in 1910. It was built for the Wiss Company, a Newark-based manufacturer of scissors, shears, and retail jewelry. At the time of its construction, it was considered one of the tallest buildings in Newark. Its front facade was constructed of limestone, glazed terra cotta, marble, and pressed metal. Originally, the first floor boasted one large storefront with offices above. Over time, the first floor was subdivided and the marble front removed, replaced by a variety of commercial signs. Architect Henry Baechlin, who also helped design Symphony Hall, designed the Wisss Building. The ground floor housed the Wiss Jewelry Store, the retail division of the scissor and shear manufacturer. The 1935 and 1940 Newark City Directories list the Lee Anna Hoisery Shop and the Broad Street Linen Shops. In addition to its scissors and shears, the store sold china, watches, diamonds, and silverware. The company commissioned their own line of Lenox and China under the name Wiss and Sons. The store's motto was "a diamond for every purse." Smaller retail establishments and professionals rented the upper floors.

The Wiss Building, circa 1920.
The Wiss Company was founded in 1848 by Jacob Wiss. The Wiss' products were high-quality and sold to the U.S. Government during the Civil War and both World Wars. The Wiss factory on Littleton Avenue in Newark opened in 1887. By 1914, Wiss acquired the manufacturing facilities of a competitor and became the world's largest producer of fine scissors and shears. The company was purchased in 1976 and the manufacturing facilities left Newark a few years later. The Wiss Building was owned by the family until 1956 when it was sold to a New York real estate developer. The store remained in the building under a long-term lease. It is unknown when the store finally closed, but it is possible that it remained open until the company was sold in 1976.

The Wiss Building, 2013.
Art Moderne Building
The last historic building on Broad Street to meet the wrecking ball is an Art Moderne Building built circa 1930. The building is a three-story, single bay building with a curved corner entrance. The exterior of the building is limestone and is characterized with an organic chevron-ornamented frieze and an overall horizontal emphasis. This sleek building housed Loft's Candy Store in 1935 and other retail stores on the upper floors. In the 1940s, the first floor housed Jordan's Ladies Wear. In the 1970s, the building was substantially renovated to house King's Sea Food and more recently Planet Wings. These later renovations gutted the building of its historical integrity.

The Broad Street streetscape has changed numerous times since the first commercial buildings were built in the late 1800s. As time passed, uses evolved and the size and configuration of the buildings made them undesirable for new tenants. Newark as a whole suffered from the growth of suburban shopping centers in the mid-1960s and 1970s. Once suburban sprawl took root, the once-popular department stores of Newark lost their allure. In addition, soaring crime rates and the rise of undesirables in Newark contributed toward this decline. Despite attempts to renovate and rejuvenate the sites, only the first floor retail shops remained viable and in some cases, the buildings never reopened. Some buildings were more fortunate. Kresge's was renovated and now houses retail and offices. Others, such as Hanhe's & Company, sit idly, waiting to saved. By late winter 2013, the two block area of Broad Street, between Cedar and New Streets, will be reduced to rubble. In their place will rise a modern glass and steel office high-rise, the future headquarters of the Prudential Insurance Company, which has called Newark home since 1875. Perhaps this new development will spur the preservation and rehabilitation of the remaining stores and shops that once made Newark a grand city.

The Schrafft's Building and Art Moderne Building are visible to the left and right of The History Girl.
Additional photos of my trip to Newark on Pinterest

For More Information:h

Monday, January 28, 2013

Historical Organization of the Week: The Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee

Every Monday, I highlight a non-profit related to history or the arts, a historical society, preservation group or friends group whose main objective is to promote the historical and artistic history of New Jersey.

This week, I am featuring the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee. Founded in 1973, the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee is the not-for-profit, volunteer-based, citywide advocate for the preservation of Newark's historic and cultural resources. The Committee has compiled categorized lists of Newark historic buildings, written guidebooks, published newsletters and a web site, hosted exhibits, erected plaques, and has conducted special forums, programs, and tours. They also provide technical assistance to property owners and tenants about historic restoration and collaborate with other non-profit organizations, historical societies, schools, and community and neighborhood groups. The Committee's work has included the nomination of landmarks to the historic registers and intervention on behalf of threatened landmarks.

The Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee relies on memberships, fundraising, and countless volunteers to continue its mission. For more information on programs, special events, and exhibits hosted by the Newark Preservation & Landmarks Committee or to become a member or volunteer, please visit www.newarklandmarks.org or call 973-622-4910.

If you are a member of a non-profit organization or know of one that you would like to see featured on this site, please let us know in the comments or send an e-mail to kelly@thehistorygirl.com.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

eBay Items of the Week: 1/27/13 - 2/3/13

Items up on eBay this week!
Click on each link for the eBay page!
More items always going up.
Stay updated about new items on Facebook.

Gettysburg, PA

The National Civil War Wax Museum
You are Invited to Historic Gettysburg
"The World's Greatest Indoor Miniature Village"

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

National Park Service Brochure

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Vintage 1960s Brochure!

Has a textured paper!

Vintage 1949 - great images!

Terrence D. Lee for Warren, NJ County Clerk

George E. Thompson - Warren County Freeholder

"...an American Tradition"

Thomas Studios Photography

Savings Institution Bank Envelope

Vintage Pamphlet

Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekend Historical Happenings: 1/26/13 - 1/27/13

Know about a historical event happening in your area? 
Send me an email to let us know!
Be the first to find out about these events on Facebook!

Saturday, January 26 - Roebling, Burlington County
Preserving the Roebling Legacy: PNJ's Annual Meeting

Clifford Zink, noted historian and author, will highlight the legacy of the Roeblings and the John A. Roebling's Sons Company, once one of New Jersey's largest employers, and he will discuss the challenges, losses and successes in the preservation of Roebling historic sites and structures over the last  thirty years on Saturday from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm. Included in those inspiring successes is the Roebling Museum www.roeblingmuseum.org, a Preservation New Jersey Heritage Tourism Partner, which we will have the opportunity to tour during the meeting.

The meeting will be held at the Roebling Museum, 100 Second Avenue, Roebling, NJ 08554. The meeting will include a review of Preservation New Jersey's 2012 year and learn how you can help us manage, change, and preserve the places that matter to New Jerseyans in the year ahead! This event is FREE and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP by calling Preservation New Jersey at 609-392-6409. www.preservationnj.org

Saturday, January 26 - Washington Township, Morris County
275th Anniversary Lecture

The Washington Township Historical Society presents a lecture in honor of the township's 275th anniversary on Saturday at 3:00 pm. The year 1738 marked the arrival of a band of German settlers to Middle Valley who had fled Europe to find religious freedom. The year 2013 marks the 275th anniversary of that settlement in Washington Township. To kick off a yearlong celebration, several members of the historical society will present programs on different facets of the township. These  will be held on three consecutive Saturdays from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Washington Township Public Library, E. Springtown Road, Long Valley. The series is free and refreshments will be served. On Saturday, Mary Ann Kordys, Karen Muscat, and Betsy Guzenski will discuss several of the treasures in the WTHS museum collection. On display will be items such as the Luisa Neighbour Jacquard woven coverlet dated 1844 and a wooden clarinet owned and played by Philip Dufford in 1825.

Saturday, January 26 - Cape May, Cape May County
Friends of the World War II Tower Meeting "Turkey, Tunes, and Tales"

Join the Friends of the World War II Tower in Cape May on Saturday at 6:00 pm for this combined social event and seminar to honor area veterans of all wars. After a turkey dinner and dancing accompanied by piano music, popular during America's wars from World War II to the present, veterans of each conflict will share their recollections with the group. As an introduction to each presentation, Rich Chiemingo will play and discuss music that was popular during each war. Admission price: $15 in advance and $17 at the door for Friends of the Tower; $20 in advance and $22 at the door for members of the public. Those attending may join the Friends group at this meeting and get discounted admission to this and other Friends events. Admission limited to 75. This event will be held at Cape May Lutheran Church, 509 Pittsburgh Avenue, Cape May, NJ.

This event is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). For more information, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

Saturday, January 26 - Pemberton Township, Burlington County
January 2013 Moonlight Walk at Historic Whitesbog Village

Whitesbog Preservation Trust will host a moonlight walk at Historic Whitesbog on Saturday at 7:00 pm. By the soft glow of moonlight, walk through the dark, mysterious pines, along white sugar sand roads, to the shimmering cranberry bogs. Listen for the haunting hoots of owls. The leader will offer stories of the people who built Whitesbog, the local "Piney" folk, and the more recent American immigrants, all of whom worked here to make it one of the most successful agricultural enterprises in New Jersey. 

Meet at the General Store at 7:00 pm. Guests should be prepared for a relatively vigorous walk, are encouraged to dress for the weather and bring anything that may be needed for your comfort, such as sturdy shoes, a light jacket, and a flashlight. Light refreshments will be served after the walk. Inclement weather cancels. Fee is $5 per person. Reservations by Friday, January 25 are required: leave name, telephone number and number of people attending on main voicemail, 609-893-4646, or e-mail WhitesbogPreservationTrust@comcast.net.

All proceeds benefit the Whitesbog Preservation Trust in its tireless efforts to restore and protect Historic Whitesbog Village and its surrounding lands. Whitesbog Village is located at mile marker 13 on County Route 530 in Browns Mills (Pemberton Township), NJ. To find out information and directions: call 609-893-4646, e-mail WhitesbogPreservationTrust@comcast.net or visit www.whitesbog.org.

Saturdays, January 26 - February 23 - Port Norris, Cumberland County
Winter Enrichment Series

A winter learning experience for ages 6 - 12 held each Saturday from 9:00 am - 12:00 noon at the Bivalve Shipping Sheds at 2800 High Street, Port Norris, NJ. Explore winter on the Delaware Bay: discover the bay's winter inhabitants and environment with hands on activities, wetland walks, critter observations, art and crafts. This program runs every Saturday until February 23. For more information or to register, contact Laura S. Johnson, ljohnson@bayshorediscovery.org; 856-785-2060 ext. 102. www.bayshorediscovery.org

Saturday, January 26 - North Plainfield, Somerset County
Photography Exhibition

The Fleetwood Museum of Art and Photographica is pleased to present an exhibition, "Dependent on Chance: The Magic of Smoke Trails" by Vivian S. Bedoya. The exhibition features abstract photographs created by photographing smoke. The images, ethereal formations rendered in both color and black and white, are stunning examples of this arduous photographic process. This unique exhibition is on view through the end of January.

Ms. Bedoya is a writer and photographer residing in Somerset County. She currently has four works of art in the Gallery 27/7 Art on Traffic Control Boxes throughout  Somerset  County.

The Fleetwood Museum of Art and Photographica is located inside the Vermeule Mansion located at 614 Greenbrook Road, North Plainfield, New Jersey  07060. The Museum is open Saturdays from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and the second Sunday of every month, 1:30 - 4:00 pm.

Sunday, January 27 - River Edge, Bergen County
Brigit's Day and Candlemas

The Bergen County Historical Society marks the back-to-back midwinter feasts of Brigit's Day and Candlemas at Historic New Bridge Landing on Sunday from 1:00 - 5:00 pm. Candle-making will be demonstrated at the Out Kitchen by Fort Lee historian John Muller. Accomplished harpist Ardis A. Cavin, an adjunct professor at Bergen Community College, will give a 45-minute performance of Irish ballads on Celtic harp in the Steuben House at 1:30 and 3:00 pm. She was recently featured in a Channel 13 program, "Ballads from Britain." All three houses will be open to tour. Traditional foods, including crepes, will be available in the Black Horse Tavern.

Historic New Bridge Landing is located at 1201 Main Street, River Edge, NJ 07661. Suggested donation: $7 adult, $5 children, BCHS members free. www.bergencountyhistory.org

Sunday, January 27 - Hoboken, Hudson County
Map Exhibit Opens

Visit the Hoboken Museum on Sunday from 2:00 - 5:00 pm for the opening party of "Mapping the Territory," an exhibit tracing Hudson County history from 1840 - 2013. This event is free and open to the public. The Hoboken Museum is located at 1301 Hudson Street in Hoboken. www.hobokenmuseum.org

Sunday, January 27 - Westfield, Union County
Wake up Mr. Groundhog - Do all Animals Hibernate?

February 2 brings the only weather forecast led by a rodent – the groundhog. Visit the Miller-Corey House Museum on Sunday at 2:00 pm to learn about the facts behind the superstition of the groundhog’s shadow. The program includes information on the history of Groundhog Day, other animals that hibernate, what that time of year meant to early American farmers, and a day in the life of a colonial era child. Also included are storytelling and children’s crafts. A light refreshment will be served. Admission: Adults/Children age 13 and older: $3.00; Children age 3 to 12: $2.00; Under age 3: free. The Miller-Cory House Museum is located at 614 Mountain Avenue in Westfield. For more information, call 908-232-1776 or visit www.millercoryhouse.org

Through April 28, 2013 - Paterson, Passaic County
New Exhibit at Lambert Castle

Lambert Castle, the Victorian-era mansion located on the Garrett Mountain Reservation on the border between Paterson and Clifton, will be home to an exciting new art exhibit now through April 28, 2013. The exhibit, entitled "Message in a Bottle: The Bottleworks of Dr. Etta Ehrlich," will feature Dr. Ehrlich's unique and thought-provoking take on society and culture, using carefully-arranged antique bottles and other found objects. The exhibit will be open until April 28 during regular museum hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Lambert Castle is located at 3 Valley Road, Paterson. For more information, call 973-247-0085 or visit www.lambertcastle.org.

Some event listings courtesy of the League of Historical Societies of New Jersey

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weekend Estate Sales: 1/25/13 - 1/27/13

Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
Hosting an estate sale? Send me an e-mail to be featured in our weekly post!
Be the first to know about these sales on Facebook!

Exceptional Antiques
Leonia, NJ 07605
9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Vintage Clothing & Antique Knick-Knacks
Park Ridge, NJ 07656
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Items from a Bygone Era!
Midland Park, NJ 07432
9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Saturday & Sunday (Same Time)

Vintage Advertising
Neptune, NJ 07753
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Leaving his Mark in Flemington: The Architecture of Mahlon Fisher

Leaving his Mark in Flemington: The Architecture of Mahlon Fisher
Written by NJ Historian

Flemington, New Jersey, the county seat of Hunterdon, is a town rich in history. Many of the homes and businesses' facades have been preserved, allowing visitors to step back in time, to a community that once was and still is vibrant and charming. In 1935, Flemington became famous for the Lindbergh trial; it was dubbed, "The trial of the century." Since then, the notoriety of this trial still lingers and a reenactment is staged yearly in the restored courthouse. But many who traverse these streets do not know that the the courthouse and many of the homes and commercial buildings lining Main Street are artifacts of Greek Revival architecture, a style popular between the 1820s and early 1860s, and built or influenced by notable builder Mahlon Fisher.

On Main Street, just a short distance from the Hunterdon County Courthouse is a solid, square, two-story Greek Revival style home with over-sized pillars on its front porch. This charming home is now the headquarters for the Hunterdon County Historical Society, but has served a number of purposes through the years. The home was built by Mahlon Fisher. Fisher was born to a German family on February 8, 1810 in Amwell Township. His education was limited to a one-room schoolhouse and his education most likely ended at the eighth grade. When he was not at school, he was obligated to help on the family farm, which provided sustenance and a means of income for his family.

At the age of sixteen, Fisher apprenticed to a carpenter where he learned the craft of fine house building. By the time he was twenty, he began purchasing property in Flemington and Delaware Townships. Always seeking opportunity, he most likely envisioned building homes or selling the land for a profit. Between the 1830s and 1840s, Hunterdon County was still young and not much development had taken place. But quickly Flemington was growing, as it was the center of all activity in the county. It was home to lawyers, accountants, and businessmen, in addition to the county government.

Mahlon Fisher
On January 30, 1834, at the age of twenty-four, Fisher married Mary Ann Stires of Readington Township. Together, they had eight children, seven of which lived to adulthood. When Mahlon was 32, he purchased a lot on Main Street in Flemington. It can be surmised that by this time, his vast landholdings had brought him considerable wealth to purchase a property so close to the county courthouse. On this lot he built the Doric House. The house was completed by 1845 and was heavily embellished in high-style Greek Revival. Mason William Clarke constructed the rubble foundation. Upon the foundation, Fisher built a rectangular, three-story, three bay, frame home measuring approximately twenty-eight feet by thirty-two feet. He designed the home to have a full portico, with four square modified Doric Revival columns and two similar pilasters at the corners of the house. Above the portico columns is a Greek Revival entablature, denticulated architrave, and three window openings in the frieze with metal grills in palmette and foliate motif. In order to make a grand entrance, he designed an elaborate Greek Revival recessed doorway.

Inside, Fisher spared no expense. In the front foyer is an elliptical staircase with decorative touches added to the stringer. The ceilings on the first floor are nine feet high. The front parlor is decorated with twelve tall, thin painted wood, paneled pilasters capped by a gilded leaf-and-dart motif plaster molding and a tall and deeply recessed plaster cornice. The original cast plaster center medallion remains with a 2012 reproduction period argon lamp. The fireplace in the parlor is made of black marble shot with gold. All of the doors on the first floor are finished solid cherry and more than two inches thick with a single recessed Greek Revival panel.

Greek Revival recessed door with  denticulated architrave.
Greek Revival architecture was popular in America from 1820 through the beginning of the American Civil War. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, Greek architecture had not been widely studied and access to that region was treacherous. It was not until 1762 when The Antiquities of Athens was published that the style and its design could reach a larger audience. Thomas Jefferson owned a copy of this book and appointed architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe as surveyor of public buildings in the United States. Through Latrobe and his students, many public buildings were designed in the Greek Revival style, paying homage to the birthplace of democracy. The movement was viewed as a symbol of our democracy and that was not only optimistic, but mindful of posterity.

Mahlon Fisher embraced this national movement throughout his time in Flemington, designing a number of Greek Revival buildings. Between 69 and 71 Main Street, is a small yet striking building. Originally built in 1811, it served as an office for State Senator Samuel Southard. Southard was appointed Secretary of the Navy by James Monroe in 1817 and remained at this post in John Quincy Adams' administration. Southard became New Jersey Attorney General in 1829 after leaving the Navy and was voted New Jersey's tenth governor in 1832. After Southard departed for Washington, the building served as the office of Governor Vroom between 1817 and 1819. In 1820, it was purchased by Alexander Wurts and remodeled in 1840 at his request by Fisher. The building was initially a plain, squat, three bay structure with a door at the center. Fisher's redesign added the portico with  four square columns with egg and dart molding on the capitals, a large entablature with denticulated architrave (no longer existing), a simple projecting cornice, and frieze decorated with carved wooden wreaths. Alexander Wurts owned the building until 1880. Since the early 1900s, the building has housed a number of Hunterdon County offices over the years. It has recently been restored.

Samuel Southard Law Office
Fisher used Greek Revival as the inspiration for the Dorf House, located at 151-153 Main Street. Built in 1845, it was designed for two brothers as two symmetrical houses joined in the center with matching staircases. The homes had separate owners until 1942. Much like the Southard office and his own home, the house features a large entablature with denticulated architrave and six window openings in the frieze with metal grills at the front. He installed fluted Doric columns on the front porch and three 3/4 Doric fluted columns against the house. The porch's entablature has a denticulated architrave and a single molded cornice.  The frieze is decorated with carved wooden wreaths, one of Fisher's trademark architectural elements.

In 1847, Fisher built one his most elaborate homes for James Reading, grandson of the colonial governor of New Jersey, at 119 Main Street. James Reading's son played in the first intercollegiate football game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869. The house has been said to have been built from a plan, but it is considered a showcase example of Greek Revival architecture. Many details on the home are exact replicas from Greek temples. The home is a center hall plan, five bays wide. The front of the home is graced by a two-story portico with a deep entablature and elaborate carved wood cresting above, which no long remains. Six fluted wood Ionic columns grace the porch with carved capitals. The doorway is elaborately carved and recessed from the plane of the house. Egg and dart moldings and the frieze above the doorway is decorated with carved scroll forms. The Reading residence's details represent the highlight of Fisher's career as a fine house builder.

The James Reading House in 1963. Source: HABS
Fisher designed and built these buildings in a relatively short amount of time. In 1849, he and his family moved out of the Doric House when Fisher's interests turned to other business ventures. He became involved in a partnership with his brother Johnson Fisher, in Stockton, New Jersey, dealing in grain and lumber. In 1855, he moved once again to the town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he would make his fortune in the lumber business. He bought large wooded lots in Pennsylvania and became involved in the lumber business with John Grandin Reading of Hunterdon County. Together they owned lumbering firms and planing mills. Fisher eventually became President of the Susquehanna Boom Company and Valentine Iron Works. He was a founder and President of the Old Lumberman's National Bank, an original member of the Williamsport Land Company, and held public office. He built a large mansion in Williamsport which was dubbed the "Million Dollar Mansion." Fisher died on December 28, 1874, at the age of 64, leaving behind a large fortune and legacy.

Today, Fisher's home, the Doric House, has been restored to its former splendor. After Fisher's departure, his residence remained in that capacity but was later converted and occupied by the Odd Fellows, a restaurant, and a Methodist Church school. In 1970, the house was acquired by the Hunterdon County Historical Society with the financial help of citizens and business people. The museum is furnished in the Empire style, a design developed in France under Napoleon with curving lines, some caving, and occasionally ornamentation in brass with ivory or gold stencil. This furniture style was popular in the United States between 1820 and 1840.

The Doric House parlor.
Attached to the Doric House is the Hunterdon County Historical Society's Hiram E. Deats Memorial Library. This research library contains over 6,000 printed volumes, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, broadsides, photographs and records of local history. In 2009, the Society opened a state-of-the-art, environmentally-controlled archives building in Raritan Township, designed to serve archival needs for the next fifty years.

Today, the homes and buildings that Mahlon Fisher designed are iconic to Flemington; they are part of a living and breathing historic streetscape that has developed over time, yet his stoic and impressive buildings have changed very little, owed in part to his sound and high-quality building methods. The longevity of these buildings in the Greek Revival style speak truth to the fact that they create an air of permanence and invoke the ancient ideals of Wisdom, Truth, and Justice. Through the work of Fisher and the wisdom of future generations, these buildings have earned their place in American history.

Additional photos of my trip to the Doric House on Pinterest

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another Vintage GE Toaster!

Here we have another General Electric Toaster. This model #72T82 was produced sometime in the 1950s. It is chrome with Bakelite handles. The cord is in perfect condition too! I tested it and both sides work!! It's a lovely decorative piece!

This toaster has been SOLD! Thanks for looking!

Lovely Shiny Chrome!

Two Slots with Bakelite Handles!

Nice, Long Cord!