Exploring the History of New Jersey and Beyond!

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

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekend Historical Happenings: 6/1/13 - 6/2/13

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Saturday, June 1 - Flemington, Hunterdon County
Needlework Book Release and Signing

A Sampling of Hunterdon County Needlework:  the motifs, the makers & their stories, a four-color, 132-page book about Hunterdon County schoolgirl needlework by researchers and collectors Dan and Marty Campanelli will be released on Saturday at a book-signing party. The Hunterdon County Historical Society will host the event at its newly renovated Hiram Deats Memorial Library, 114 Main Street, Flemington, NJ from 12:00 noon - 4:00 pm. The public is invited.

Guests also may tour the Society's 1845 Greek revival Doric House museum and enjoy refreshments in the back garden.

The book was made possible by a grant from the Edward Thatcher Astle Memorial Scholarship Foundation. It documents 74 Hunterdon samplers dating from 1798 through the 1840s, has 229 color images, and offers fascinating history and genealogies on many descendants of Hunterdon's early settlers. Samplers in the book and were stitched in all parts of the county, including the lower portion that was set off in 1838 to help form Mercer County. Some of those samplers will be on display during the signing.

The book is not only the first book solely about samplers from one county, but also the first to feature only New Jersey samplers. Sampler book author Gloria Seaman Allen, Ph.D. of Maryland, who wrote the book's foreword, praises the Campanelli's research for identifying new "schools" in Hunterdon needlework by motifs they named "funky lion" and "collared deer" and for including historical facts published for the first time.

The book is priced at $25 per copy, plus $7 for shipping and handling, with all proceeds benefitting the Historical Society. For more information, call 908-782-1091 or visit www.hunterdonhistory.org.

Saturday, June 1 - Union Township, Union County
J. K.'s Speakeasy

Step back into a time when jazz raged, gin flowed (illegally), and  Charleston-crazed flappers danced the night away behind locked doors at Liberty Hall's first-ever speakeasy! This bee's knees of an evening includes 1920s-inspired cocktails, period music and dancing, and delicious handcrafted hors d'oeuvres. Be sure to don your snazziest Prohibition-era attire as prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed guy and gal! Must be 21 or over to attend. Program fee: $55.00 per person. Reservations required. Please call 908-527-0400. This event will run from 7:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. at Liberty Hall Museum, 1003 Morris Ave, Union, NJ. www.kean.edu/libertyhall

Saturday, June 1 - Ledgewood, Morris County
Silent Auction and Dinner

The Roxbury Historic Trust will host a Silent Auction and Dinner from 5:30 - 8:00 pm at the Junction 46 Restaurant in the Quality Inn Hotel located at 1691 Rt. 46 Ledgewood, NJ. Admission to the auction is free. Tickets for the dinner are $20 and will include a buffet of mixed greens salad, rolls & butter, chicken marsala, stuffed rigatoni with pink vodka sauce, garden rice & mixed vegetable, and non-alcoholic beverages. Dessert is included. Cash bar available. For tickets please contact Susan Rawlinson,  allisue@optonline.net, or call 973-252-1298.

The auction will include items from the following businesses and companies: Four Disney Park Tickets; Black Forest Inn and Pub Hearth and Home; Seidner Dentistry; Yoga West; Rita's; Black River Barn; Diann's Gifts & Collectibles; Chili's Restaurant; Beach Bum Tanning; Suburban Furniture; Cliff's; Friday's; Clearview Cinemas; South Orange Performing Arts Center tickets; Panera Bread; Knight's Automotive; The Market Place; Arthur Murray Dance Studio; plus antiques and many other great items!

Proceeds support the King  Store and House Museums at Drakesville Historic Park.  www.roxburynewjersey.com

Saturday, June 1 - Morristown, Morris County
The Making of an American Icon

We remember George Washington as the father of our country and arguably the greatest American to ever live. Join a Park Ranger to discover the early years of Washington’s life and see how he became the man Americans love and idealize. Program at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 pm at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum within Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, NJ. Cost: $4.00 per Adult. http://nps.gov/morr

Saturday, June 1 - West Orange, Essex County
Edison Day 2013

As part of Edison Day 2013, the Friends of Edison National Historical Park invite you to a day full of activities, a special presentation, and a reception. Activities begin at 9:30 am and will continue through 4:00 pm at both the Laboratory Complex and the Glenmont Estate. Admission is free and activities take place rain or shine. Parking is available at the Laboratory Complex on Main Street. Free shuttle bus service to the Glenmont Estate will be provided. 

Throughout the day, musicians will be recording on a wax cylinder phonograph just as it would have been done over 100 years ago. Join park archivists for "Before Mad Men," a 45 minute program on Edison advertising. 

Award winning films from the Black Maria Film Festival will be presented. Special talks will explore camping with Thomas Edison, the geothermal heating and cooling system at Glenmont, the marginalia found in the books in Edison’s library, and the history of the recording industry. 

Visitors can explore the Laboratory Complex buildings; take a guided tour of the Chemistry Laboratory; tour the house and grounds at Glenmont; and visit the garage to view some of the Edison cars, including two electric cars dating back to the early 1900s. Special programs and activities will be offered for children throughout the park. Click here for a complete schedule.

At 4:00 pm the Friends of Thomas Edison National Historical Park are sponsoring a talk on the contributions that Thomas Edison made to modern innovation management by Deborah Dougherty PhD, Professor, Management and Global Business Department, Rutgers Business School, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Dr. Dougherty, who will appear through the Rutgers Speakers Bureau, will discuss the contributions Thomas Edison made to modern innovation management. During his lifetime, Edison accumulated over 1,000 patents on devices and systems as diverse as the phonograph and kilns for manufacturing Portland cement. 

Although Edison's astonishing lifetime achievement rested on his own visionary genius, many hands and minds went into the total effort. Dr. Dougherty will explore how Edison harnessed the intellectual resources he gathered at his laboratory in West Orange by creating an environment that encouraged teamwork and cooperation. She will show how Edison's methods should inform modern managers as they create similar environments today and in the future. 

Professor Dougherty is the Academic Director for Innovation Expertise Development (NIED), an organization within Rutgers aimed at helping businesses and other organizations become expert at product and service innovation. She is a professor in the Department of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School where she has been teaching since 1998. A reception will follow the talk. Reserve your place by visiting https://sites.google.com/site/foeeday2013, by e-mail foe00@verizon.net, or by calling 973-736-2916. Thomas Edison National Historical Park is located at 211 Main Street, West Orange, NJ. www.nps.gov/edis

Saturday, June 1 - Burlington, Burlington County
Weaving History and Genealogy

The Genealogical Society of New Jersey and the Burlington County Historical Society are  pleased to announce the 2013 Spring Genealogy Seminar: Weaving History and Genealogy.

The seminar will take place on Saturday at the Wilbur Watts Intermediate School in Burlington, NJ. Topics and speakers will be:

  • "No Person Shall ... Gallop Horses In the Streets" - Using Court Records to Tell the Story of Our Ancestors' Lives, presented by Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL
  • Quiltmaking That Saw Us Through WWII presented by Sue Reich
  • Quaker Genealogy Research presented by Dr. C. Miller Biddle
  • Building A Family From Circumstantial Evidence presented by Judy G. Russell, CG, CGL
  • With Needle and Scroll presented by Sue Reich
  • This Land Is Your Land! House and Property Research presented by Larry Fermi
  • Burlington County Genealogical Resources presented by Judith M. Olsen
The cost of the program is $45 for GSNJ/BCHS members and $50 for non-members, and includes morning refreshments and lunch. To register or for more information, please cal 732-365-2680 or e-mail programs@GSNJ.org.

Saturday, June 1 - Westfield, Union County
Aunt Carrie's Attic Sale

Rescheduled from May 25Housewares, books, furniture, linens, toys and more will be available for sale at the Miller Cory House Museum's annual "Aunt Carrie's Attic Sale." The sale is scheduled for Saturday from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm. All proceeds benefit the museum. No early birds please.

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

Saturday - Sunday, June 1 - 2 - River Edge, Bergen County
King's Birthday Celebration

Prior to the American Revolution, feasts, fireworks, music and  illuminations honored His Majesty King George III on his natal day in June. The Bergen County Historical Society will celebrate its Revolutionary War Loyalist heritage with the third annual celebration of the King's Birthday at Historic New Bridge Landing on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 - 4:30 pm each day. Sue Braisted & Niel DeMarino will perform the minuet in the Steuben House each afternoon. At 7:00 pm Saturday night, there will be a presentation by BCHS past president Todd Braisted on the 1781 Battle of Fort Lee, unique in being not only a battle involving only Americans, but the only real battle to occur at that place in the war. 

On Sunday, Frank McMahon will demonstrate 18th century beer brewing, the most commonly drunk beverage of the time! Reenactors from the 4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers and other groups will be on hand both days to demonstrate the life and times of the common Crown soldiers of the American Revolution. This event takes place at Historic New Bridge Landing, 1201 Main St, River Edge, NJ. Admission: $7 adult, $5 children, BCHS members free and one price covers both days. No refreshments will be available. www.bergencountyhistory.org

Saturday - Sunday, June 1 - 2 - Farmingdale, Monmouth County
4th Annual Civil War Encampment

This weekend, the Historic Village at Allaire is scheduled to hold a Civil War encampment. The free event, presented in conjunction with the New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association, will be held Saturday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. There is a $5 parking fee.

Artillery demonstrations, battalion drills, musket cleaning, dress parades and a farewell at the train station as troops leave for the front are part of the scheduled festivities.

Allaire Village, Incorporated is licensed by the State of NJ to operate the 40-acre, state-owned Historic Village at Allaire, the site of James P. Allaire's Howell Iron Works Company in the 1830's. The Historic Village at Allaire is located at 4263 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale, NJ. www.allairevillage.org

Sunday, June 2 - Morristown, Morris County
Wick House Guest

Did you know a friend of George Washington spent the winter at the Wick House? Meet a Park Ranger at the Wick House to discover who it was as well as the impacts he made during the revolution and beyond during a tour of the Wick House. Programs at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 pm at the Wick House, located within Jockey Hollow at Morristown National Historical Park. Cost: Free. http://nps.gov/morr

Sunday, June 2 - Middletown, Monmouth County
King George III's Birthday

The Monmouth County Historical Association invites you to join them for a celebration of the  birthday of King George III on Saturday at Marlpit Hall, 137 Kings Highway, Middletown, NJ from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Within the British Empire, including the American Colonies, celebration of the King's birthday was one of the social events of the year. Come and see how this day might have been celebrated in the home of Loyalist Edward Taylor. Historical reenactors dressed as Edward and wife, Mary Ogborne Taylor, will welcome guests. Enjoy musical entertainment of the period played on the harpsichord and recorder, as presented by "The Practitioners of Musick" with John Burkhalter of Princeton. 

Marlpit Hall, built circa 1756, was home to the prominent loyalist Taylor Family at the time of the Revolution. Many of its members were among the area's leading politicians, farmers, merchants, and landowners. Edward Taylor endured house arrest for his political position and the family lost much its fortune and influence. The house was restored, furnished and donated to Monmouth County Historical Association by Margaret Riker Haskell in 1936 when it became the first restored house museum in the region. Mrs. Haskell was one of the most significant collectors of Americana, notably decorative arts, in the United States and a well-respected figure in a historically significant trail of women involved in preservation work. Marlpit Hall is currently furnished to reflect the varying tastes and lifestyles of the 18th century Taylor Family and Mrs. Haskell's 20th century colonial revival plan. 

Light refreshments will be served and admission is free. Parking is available at the adjacent Middletown Village School.  

Sunday, June 2 - Farmingdale, Monmouth County
NJ at Gettysburg Lecture

The New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee is proud to announce its sponsorship of David G. Martin's presentation on the role of New Jersey soldiers at Gettysburg, in commemoration of the forthcoming 150th anniversary of that critical battle from July 1st to 3rd 1863.

Dr. Martin, former president and current vice president of the New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association, member of the Sesquicentennial Committee and instructor at the Peddie School, is a nationally known Gettysburg scholar. He is co-author of Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg and author of Gettysburg July 1 and, most recently, New Jersey at Gettysburgas well as many other Civil War studies.

Dr. Martin will deliver his lecture, which will cover the actions of New Jersey's infantry, cavalry and artillery units over the three days of fighting at Gettysburg in detail, at Allaire Village on Sunday at 1:00 pm. Allaire Village is located at 4263 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale, NJ. The lecture will be conducted during the Civil War Encampment. Parking at Allaire is $5.00 per vehicle. For more information, call 732-919-3500 or visit www.allairevillage.org.

Sunday, June 2 - Morristown, Morris County
A musical journey from the Courts of Europe to Colonial America

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is pleased to present the final performance of its spring music series when they welcome "Arioso Consorte" at 4:30 pm on Sunday. You may be familiar with Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, or Hadyn, but have you ever wondered what music was being played in early America when these composers were popular? Arioso Consorte" will take you on a journey through Europe by playing music of some of the most prolific composers of the 17th and 18th centuries - works that were being performed in the American colonies as well. The audience at this special performance will travel "across the pond" to experience not only the classical compositions of the time, but also dance tunes and popular marches that originated in Europe and the British Isles and emigrated with the colonists to America.

"Arioso Consorte" is dedicated to exploring and re-creating the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. To achieve an authentic sound, they perform on reproductions of instruments of the era including the flauto traverso, viola da gamba, and baroque bassoon as well as the recorder. Period instruments, ornamentation and dance-like rhythms combine to create the sounds of an earlier era.  The talented members of "Arioso Consorte" include Laura Ferraro, traverse B.M., West Chester State College, an orchestral and chamber musician who studied with Emily Swartley and participated in Master classes with Rachel Brown (flauto traverso). Margaret Walker, traverse M.M., DePaul University, is currently principal flute of the Baroque Orchestra of NJ and Opera at Florham. She is a freelance musician and teacher, and has performed with other area orchestras including the Plainfield and Livingston Symphony.  Andrew Pecota, baroque bassoon, recorder B.M., Montclair University; is completing a Master's in Music Theory from Montclair University. He is currently principal bassoonist with the Baroque Orchestra of NJ, NJ Concert Opera and Opera at Florham.  Ilizabeth Cabrera plays viola da gamba, violin cello and received her B.M. at the Hartt School of Music and M.M. at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.  Ilizabeth studied viola da gamba with Mary Ann Ballard and cello with David Finckel, Paul Olefsky, David Wells, Stephen Kates, and Yehuda Hanani and participated in Master classes with Raya Garbousova and Mstislav Rostropovich.

This performance is presented in conjunction with the current exhibit in the main gallery at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum. On display are vivid examples of the antique Oriental rug collection, complemented by textbook examples of fine porcelain, silver, glass and furniture collected by Museum founder, W. Parsons Todd. "A Fine Collection: Treasures from the Vault" has a perimeter layout in the first floor gallery which leaves the center of the room open for a series of speakers and musical programming. The exhibit closes on June 30th.

Tickets for Sunday's program will go on sale at 1:00 pm on the day of the program. No advance sales. A separate ticket ($12) is required for the musical programs; discounted ($10) for members, seniors, students and those who purchased a Museum tour ticket that afternoon. House tours (regular admission applies) take place throughout the afternoon and the last tour leaves at 3:00 pm. On program days, the upstairs galleries will remain open until 4:30 pm. The "A Fine Collection" exhibit will close at 3:00 pm in preparation for the program.

For more information, call 973-538-2404 ext. 10 or visit www.maccullochhall.org.  Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is located at 45 Macculloch Avenue, Morristown, NJ.

Sunday, June 2 - Jefferson Township, Morris County
Open House

The Jefferson Township Museum, also known as the George Chamberlin House, will have an  open house on Sunday  from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Costumed docents will give tours of the museum and the museum gardens will be in bloom for your enjoyment.  Admission is free.

The Jefferson Township Museum is located at 315 Dover-Milton Road, Jefferson Township, NJ. Visit Miss Elizabeth's Shoppe located in the original kitchen of the museum, where small antiques, collectibles, handmade, handcrafted and seasonal items will be offered for sale. For further information, call 973-208-8601 or visit www.jthistoricalsociety.org.

Sunday, June 2 - South River, Middlesex County
Open House

Stop by the South River Historical & Preservation Society on Sunday from 1:30 - 3:30 pm and view exhibits on all aspects of Borough history including: schools; churches and houses of worship; local businesses and organizations; daily life; events and celebrations; and more. While you are there, see the cemetery located behind the building, ask questions, drop off donations, or exchange hometown stories with the docents. The museum is located at 64-66 Main Street, South River. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njsrhps/museum.html

Sunday, June 2 - Trenton, Mercer County
In Search of Trenton's First Garden

The William Trent House Museum presents "In Search of Trenton's First Garden," a lecture by Historic Horticulturalist Charlie Thomforde on Sunday at 2:00 pm. This program is open to the public. Historic horticulturalist Charlie Thomforde will present a fascinating illustrated lecture about 18th century gardening, comparing and contrasting evidence about William Trent's colonial garden with known facts about Monticello and Williamsburg. Learn about heirloom plants and colonial techniques still used today. Explore the historically accurate kitchen garden of the Trent House with Charlie after the program. Complimentary refreshments will be provided. The program is free but donations are welcome. Built in 1719, the magnificent Trent House is the oldest building in the state capital. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is restored and carefully furnished as it would have been in the early 18th century. Located at 15 Market Street,Trenton, NJ adjacent to the Hughes Justice Complex. Ample free parking. This program is wheelchair accessible. For more information and driving directions, visit www.williamtrenthouse.org or call 609-989-0087.

Sunday, June 2 - Westfield, Union County
Theorem Painting Children's Craft

Delicate, brightly colored, and charming – all of these words describe “theorem painting,” an art form popular in early America which uses stencils to create images on fabric. On June 2, from 2:00 to 4:00, the museum will present “Theorem Painting Craft for Children.” The program, which is appropriate for first grade and older, includes a history of theorem painting and a craft; children will be able to make their own stenciled artwork.

Also included are tours and demonstrations of authentic colonial era cooking over the open hearth. Admission is $3.00 for adults and children 13 and older, $2.00 for children ages 3 to 12, and free under age 3. 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 June 30, 2014 - Piscataway, Middlesex County
Got Work? Exhibit

View the exhibit "Got Work? New Deal/WPA in New Jersey" at the 1741 Cornelius Low House Museum in Piscataway. The museum is open Tuesday - Friday, 8:30 - 4:00 pm and Sunday afternoons from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The exhibit will run through June 30, 2014.

The Cornelius Low House, built in 1741, was the home to its namesake and is only one of two remaining buildings from historic Raritan Landing. This high-style Georgian mansion is listed on the National Register and operated by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Admission to the museum is FREE. The museum is located at 1225 River Road, Piscataway, NJ . For more information, visit

Through October 6, 2013 - Paterson, Passaic County
Remembering the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913

Lambert Castle, the Victorian-era mansion located on the Garrett Mountain Reservation on the border between Paterson and Clifton, will be home to an exhibit highlighting the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913 now through October 6, 2013. The exhibit, entitled "We Had to be Rebels: Remembering the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913." This year marks the centennial of the landmark 1913 Paterson Silk Strike, which would forever change the face of labor relations in the Silk City. Thousands of workers walked away from their looms to be herded into court rooms and jail cells in a strike that took months to resolve. The exhibit will be open 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.

Sundays through July 28, 2013 - Cranbury, Middlesex County
Wedding Display

The Cranbury Historical and Preservation Society's temporary exhibit entitled "The Look of Love - Bridal Fashions of the Twentieth Century" features wedding gowns, dresses and accessories from 1901 though the 1990s. A large collection of photographs, cards, wedding gifts, and assorted ephemera that span the century will also be on display. The Cranbury Museum is located at 4 Park Place East, Cranbury. www.cranburyhistory.org

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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weekend Estate Sales: 5/31/13 - 6/2/13

Click on each link for more information on the estate sale!
Find something neat at an estate sale? Let us know!
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19th Century Cabinet & More Antiques
West Orange, NJ 07052
9:30 am - 2:00 pm 
Friday & Saturday (Same Time)

Antique Furniture, Lamps and Chandeliers
Hazlet, NJ 07730
9:00 am - 6:00 pm 
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Same Time)

High-quality Antiques
Linden, NJ 07036
9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Same Time)

Tons of different Antiques!
Raritan, NJ 08869
9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Same Time)

Antique Printing Items
Gillette, NJ
9:00 am - 4:00 pm Saturday
10:00 am - 4:00 pm Sunday

Find more Estate Sales near you at estatesales.net

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beautiful Vintage Bamberger's Hat

I picked up this wonderful hat at an estate sale last weekend. The best part of all is that it came in its original box, has the original receipt, and still has the tag on it.

The hat box is in great shape. No noticeable damage except for some slight wear around the edges. It even comes with the original paper stuffings!

The original receipt! This hat was purchased on July 20, 1964.

Want it?  eBay Listing: Vintage Bamberger's Hat

Fort Adams: Exploring America's Largest Coastal Fort

Fort Adams: Exploring America's Largest Coastal Fort
Written by NJ Historian

Most know Newport, Rhode Island for its luxurious and ostentatious residences that were the summer "cottages" of the industrialists and robber barons during the Gilded Age. But not far from those grand homes is a fortification that would have protected the the harbor and the residents of this seaside resort town from enemy attack. Although it never fired a shot of aggression, the largest and most complex coastal fortification built in America is Fort Adams.

Fort Adams, circa 1945.
A fort to protect Newport, Rhode Island was conceived of as early as the 1673, when Goat Island was purchased and lots laid out, including land set aside for defenses. Work did not begin on earthen fortifications until 1700. In May 1702, the Rhode Island Assembly ordered a new fortification large enough to mount twelve cannon during the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1713). The new fort was named Fort Anne, after Queen Anne who took over the throne in March 1702. Fort Anne was deactivated after the war and was renamed Fort George in 1730. A series of disarming and rearming Newport's fortifications began and lasted through the American Revolution. The defenses did not hold up to the British attack and Newport fell  under British control on December 7, 1776. The British remained in Newport until they evacuated in October 1779. 

After the war, the forts around Newport fell into a state of disrepair. In October 1784, the Rhode Island Assembly ordered that the works on Goat Island be repaired and armed. The fort was renamed Fort Washington. Concerned by the outbreak of war in Europe in 1793, the United States Congress appointed a committee of artillerymen and engineers to study coastal defense needs. Twenty-one locations, including Newport, were selected by the committee to receive new forts, which would be known as the First System. The original Fort Adams was established on July 4, 1799. It was designed by Major Louis de Tousard of the Army Corps of Engineers. The fort was built to mount twelve cannon and was garrisoned during the War of 1812 by Wood's State Corps of Rhode Island militiamen. After the War of 1812, a review of the nation's fortifications determined that Fort Adams was inadequate and a newer and much larger fort would need to be constructed. 

Old Fort Adams drawn by George W. Cullum after the original by Tousard.
The new Fort Adams was designed by Brigadier General Simon Bernard, a Frenchman who had served as a military engineer under Napoleon. Bernard designed the new fort in the classic style of Vauban and it became the most complex fortification in the Western Hemisphere. S├ębastien Le Prestre de Vauban was Louis XIV's military engineer who took the star fort design to the extreme during the late seventeenth century. Construction of the new fort began in 1824 and continued at irregular intervals until 1857. It was a massive undertaking. From 1825 to 1838, construction was overseen by Colonel Joseph Gilbert Totten, the foremost American military engineer of his day. The labor necessary to construct the fort was more than Newport and the surrounding areas could provide. Laborers from Ireland were hired to construct the fort, which used over four million bricks, over 48,000 tons of granite block, and over 20,000 tons of rubble stone. By 1831, over four hundred Irish workers labored six days per week. Wages varied depending on the skills and trade required. Records from that year show that two hundred and fifty men moved dirt for $1 per day, while fifty-two masons worked for $1.72 per day, and one wheelwright and two blacksmiths earned $1.23 per day.

Once completed, this imposing fort covered twenty acres. It was and still remains the largest coastal fortification in the United States. It was built to house 2,400 men and 468 cannon. This granite, brick, and shale fort covers 871,200 square feet and dwarfs other forts! In comparison, Fort McHenry in Baltimore, built in 1798, was only 85,000 square feet and held 150 soldiers and 60 guns. Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, built in 1829, covers 56,000 square feet and had a capacity of 650 soldiers and 135 guns. Both of these forts could fit within the boundaries of Fort Adams and have plenty of space to spare! Since it took approximately thirty years to complete, enough of the fort was finished by August, 1841 that it could be garrisoned with troops.

A view of the 6.5 acre parade ground inside the fort and the western casemates.
Fort Adams was designed to be self-sufficient in order to survive a siege. The design included facilities for food, water, sanitation, and medical care. When Frenchman Bernard was assigned the task of designing the fort, he took great pride in the responsibility, thus making this one stand out among all previous U.S. forts. Particularly, fort engineers believed that any fort could fall after a prolonged siege. Earthworks and outworks were constructed as part of the defense of the main walls of the fort to slow down the enemy and allow time for reinforcements to arrive. Near the east gate to Fort Adams, earthworks and a redoubt were constructed. The redoubt near the east gate was a small fort that would protect the main fort if it ever came under attack. This one story granite structure was converted to a jail by 1900 and a second story was added. By the 1930s, the second story was removed. The Fort Adams Trust reconstructed the second story to house offices for the organization in 2009.

Other obstacles were built to slow down an enemy during a land assault. Fort Adams had a multi-tiered defense that included another redoubt south of the fort and a large glacis, or gentle slope of land away from the fort without any cover. Enemies approaching up the glacis were at a disadvantage compared to those at the top of the glacis. In addition, anyone coming up the slope could be easily seen and targeted. If the enemy was successful in getting past these areas, they would be at the exterior ditch, which would funnel the enemy into a channel where they would face heavy musket and cannon fire. A tenaille, or wide angular defense work used to protect the main walls was also built. From there, the interior ditch and exterior front were two of the last defenses, if the enemy was able to get that far inland. 

The fort's builders were also concerned about enemies who may circumvent a land attack and tunnel underground. But plans were made to prevent an underground attack by building listening tunnels into the surrounding land so that enemy digging operations could be heard. If enemy digging was detected, soldiers would then dig a tunnel toward the enemy. Once close, they could set off charges to destroy the enemy tunnels. Fort Adams contains 3,110 feet or .59 miles of underground tunnels constructed of stone and brick of varying heights.

Listening tunnels at Fort Adams.
The late nineteenth century brought about changes in weapons and defense. New ships with high-powered guns were no match for the fort's walls. In order to remedy this, Fort Adams expanded outside of its walls  in the 1890s. The Army constructed six new batteries with modern cannons and mortars which could fire at greater distances. From this point onward, the fort primarily transformed into soldier housing. Since its construction, soldiers had complained of damp conditions at the fort. Between 1906 and 1908, the Army constructed brick barracks atop the south wall to improve living conditions. The eastern half of the barracks burned in 1947. New officer's quarters were built south of the fort in the early years of the twentieth century.

A view of the unrestored areas of Fort Adams.
Fort Adams also served as the headquarters for all fortifications in Narragansett Bay, as well as, a training center in both world wars. During World War I, the fort was a depot for units departing to fight in France.  Three regiments of artillery were formed and trained at Fort Adams. During World War II, over 3,000 soldiers were assigned to the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay. The southwest battery was the advanced position for directing fire against enemy warships. Eleven large fifteen-inch Rodman cannons were positioned at the fort, capable of hurling their projectiles a range of two-and-one-half miles. An anti-submarine net was stretched from Fort Adams across to Jamestown, to prevent the entry of enemy submarines. Additionally, two observation posts were installed on the west wall of the fort. As the war progressed, the number of troops was gradually reduced to about 500 by the end of the war in 1945. The fort functioned as an active Army post until 1950.

In 1953, the Army gave Fort Adams to the Navy, which still uses some of the grounds for family housing. In 1965, the fort was given to the State of Rhode Island for use as Fort Adams State Park. Fort Adams was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Between these changes in ownership, the fort was not well-maintained, the property was overgrown, and vandalism was a constant problem. Even a few fires of unknown origin damaged portions of the fort during these years. Finally, in 1994, the Fort Adams Trust was established. This group of volunteers worked tirelessly to reopen the fort for tours and begin restoration of the grounds.  Since then, gates and grills have been installed to deter vandalism, interpretive signs have been installed throughout the complex, the northern casemates, east wall roof, and earthen ramparts restored, and the redoubt/jail was reconstructed to its early twentieth century appearance. It will take millions of dollars and thousands of hours to fully restore Fort Adams to its former glory, but these small steps taken over the past nine years show a promising future for the fort that was once a flagship of ingenuity and technology for the United States Army.

Additional photos of my trip to Fort Adams on Pinterest


For More Information

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hunt's Pier, Wildwood, New Jersey

Hunt's Pier
Wildwood, New Jersey
Photo and Description Written by Douglas Hunsberger

“Hunt’s Pier, 1984”, Juniper and the Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ. Copyright © 1984 Douglas Hunsberger 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mysteries of History: Painted Ponies: Carousels of Wonder

Mysteries of History
Painted Ponies: Carousels of Wonder
Written by Scott M. Cooper

When I sit and daydream about my younger years, it always propels me to the county fair. First, a colorful piece of cardboard, nailed to the telephone pole. Then, the anxiety would begin and would not subside until I stepped foot on the midway. Scents of food merged with one another, but I could pick out each one: cotton candy, hand tossed pizza, fried dough, and my ultimate favorite that can not be mimicked anywhere but the fair, Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Before I could enjoy the thrills of the Roundup, the Galaxy, and on some occasions the rollercoaster, the best amusement ride of all was when I climbed upon a colorful outer row jumper horse of a musical carousel.

The carousel dates back to the Byzantine Empire around 500 AD; it was first developed as an aid to help equestrians to become more skillful for their service to the empire. For the modern day carousel that has delighted children of all ages the world over, it began in 1740, by a wagon maker in Germany, named Michael Dantzel. He converted his simple wagon business into a name that, until this day, is respected by collectors worldwide. During the winter months, the business would stay busy hand-carving animals, modifying the mechanisms and preparing for a tour of Europe. Springtime not only brought fresh beginnings in nature, but also brought the Dantzel Company touring another season with their large Menagerie Carousel to visit various fairs.

By the 1840s, the United States was home to several construction companies that specialized in building various carousels. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company and the Charles I.D. Looff Company built the stationary Coney Island style. Allen Herschell and the C.W. Parker Company built machines to be easily set up for traveling fairs, which manufactured the portable County Fair style carousel. Each carousel was handmade and many of the animals carved during this era are highly sought-after by collectors.

The twentieth century not only brought style that appealed to young children with bright colors and menagerie, it also moved along with technology and the invention of electricity. This once simple animal powered machine was now electric with its movement and majestic display of colorful lighting. As the years progressed, this once masterful craft of hand carved wooden animals were now being mass-produced, pushing the artist into a studio to work on projects for personal pleasure.

Although the carousel’s heyday is long gone, and has been for many years, I will never forget the power that it held over me. If I want to rekindle that powerful force, all I have to do is visit one of the specialty amusement parks that speckle the countryside. Climb upon one of the outer lane jumpers or cuddle with my girl in one of the elaborate chariots and enjoy the scent of foods and the beautiful music that can only be found at the fair.

Dentzel -Looff Carousel at Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ. Built circa 1910.
About the Author
Scott M. Cooper, the author of "Mysteries of History," is a Massachusetts native, now living in Florida. Cooper, a freelance writer, is the owner of The Elegant Quill, which offers ghost writing, fiction, non-fiction, editing, and proofreading services. He may be contacted at smcooper5289@gmail.com.

Organization of the Week: Fort Adams Trust

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 Fort Adams Trust. Formed in 1994, the Fort Adams Trust maintains historic Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island. The mission of the Fort Adams Trust is to protect and promote the historic places and public spaces at the gateway to Narragansett Bay and Newport. This includes directing and supporting the stabilization, maintenance, and operation of Fort Adams as a public historic site. This site, once over 130 acres, requires a staff of volunteers to act as tour guides, maintain the grounds, and lead restoration efforts.

Geo-caching, team building, and a new 436 foot zip line, as well as guided and self-guided tours, are just a few of the new ways visitors can experience the Fort. The Fort Adams Trust is rapidly turning Fort Adams into Newport, Rhode Island’s Adventure Learning Destination. Throughout the year, the Trust hosts various events, such as a Civil War Weekend in the spring and a Halloween-themed event in the fall, complete with ghost tours.

The Fort Adams Trust relies on memberships, fundraising, and countless volunteers to continue its mission. For more information on programs, special events, and exhibits hosted by the Fort Adams Trust or to become a member or volunteer, please call 401-841-0707 or visit www.fortadams.org.

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, May 26, 2013

eBay Items of the Week: 5/26/13 - 6/1/13

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

 Antique WWII Dining Table
Liberty Ship Hatch Door Table

 Antique WWII Coffee Table
Liberty Ship Hatch Door Table

 Vintage Walgreens Matches
Aspirin Advertising

 Saskatchewan, Canada
Vintage 'K' Motel

 Vintage Indianapolis Postcard
Ross Motel & Inn

 Hill's Cold Tablets
Tiny Vintage Tin

Marshalltown, IA 

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 

Vintage Lori-Lynn Motel Postcard
Hannibal, MO

Vintage Magnolia Motor Hotel
Vicksburg, Mississippi

Vintage Cramer's Cabins Postcard
7 Miles East of Butler, PA

Vintage Albert Pick Motel Postcard
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Vintage Albuquerque Lorlodge West Motel Postcard
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Check out more Antique BooksBottlesEphemera, & Tins.