Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Will You Continue to #SpreadTheHistory?

Will You Continue to #SpreadTheHistory?
A Review of 2014

Another year has come and gone - it seems like it was just last week when 2013 was coming to a close! Over the course of the past year, we have explored a number of sites throughout New Jersey and beyond. In July, I went to Virginia, visiting sites such as Jamestown, Yorktown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Washington's Mount Vernon. In August, a family trip took me to the Catskills of upstate New York and in October I went as far south as North Carolina, stopping at Petersburg National Battlefield and Richmond along the way. With that in mind, here is a recap of six of the most popular articles of 2013. Throughout 2014, remember that our historic sites are in need of visitors all year round. Therefore, I encourage you to go out and support your local historical society's events and open houses. 

To see a listing of all the sites that have been featured since 2012, click here.
To see a listing of all guest articles, click here.

1. Greystone Psychiatric Hospital
Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, New Jersey has been constantly battered by the elements, time, and neglect for quite a few years now. Despite valid proposals to save and readapt this behemoth building for modern uses, it will unfortunately soon face the wrecking ball, like most of the surrounding structures associated with it already have. The pleas for help have gone unanswered and this building's very last patient, itself, will face a sad ending unless a last-minute injunction or moratorium comes into play. Will the fall of Greystone become our New York's Pennsylvania Station?

2. Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English colony in North America, is yielding new information to archaeologists and historians almost daily about the lives and struggles of the colonists who landed in 1607. With only a portion of the 1690 church tower standing, all of the evidence of the colonists have been found below grade. Once believed to have eroded into the James River, one archaeologist went against what was accepted as fact and revealed that only a small portion of the fort was actually lost. Since then, what has been discovered is fascinating, sometimes macabre, but nevertheless extremely insightful. These new discoveries have shed new light on early European colonization and have helped change the course of history.

3. Emilio Carranza Memorial
Every year since 1928, the fatal final flight of Mexican aviator Emilio Carranza has been remembered with a ceremony deep in the Pine Barrens. Revered as the Charles Linbergh of Mexico, Carranza perished during the return portion of his goodwill flight from Mexico City to New York City during the night of July 12, 1928. A lone memorial built in 1928 with funds raised by the children of Mexico stands in a desolate grove in the dense Pine Barrens. The memorial, in conjunction with the ceremony held every year, never allows the spirit of Carranza to fade from our collective memory.

4. Wildwood Doo Mop Motels
Wildwood, New Jersey has the largest collection of Doo Wop architecture in the world. Doo-what?Not sure what Doo Wop is? Well, it's a very broad but distinctive type of architecture used to describe the resort motels and mid-century commercial architecture (including vintage neon signs) built during the era of the 1950s and 1960s - think plastic palm trees, angled walls and/or windows, flat overhanging roofs, jutting balconies, prominent neon signs and railing, bright colors, and a contemporary or fantasy theme. Today, over fifty vintage motels still stand within the Wildwoods Doo Wop Motel District. Up until the late 1990s, nearly one hundred motels stood throughout the island, virtually untouched since their original construction. Will the Wildwoods be able to hold onto their unique distinction or will those memorable "Wildwood Days" fade away, much like the memory of Bobby Reidel has with the recent generation?

5. Asbury Mill
Experts say that the greenest building is the one that already exists. In Asbury, New Jersey, the Musconetcong Watershed Association, which primarily focuses on the environment and water quality, has committed themselves to restoring the defunct Asbury Mill. Built circa 1865, the mill functioned as a grist and then graphite mill well into the twenty-first century. Abandoned since 1974, the MWA has stabilized the mill and is now committed to sensitively restoring the interior and exterior so that this old structure can serve a new purpose as an educational tool and sorely-needed office space for this growing organization.

6. Fishkill, New York Supply Depot
The Fishkill Supply Depot burial ground is the one that time forgot. Lost until just a few years ago, it is considered the largest-known planned Continental burial ground in the United States. However, like many unprotected and privately-owned historic sites, it faces an uncertain future. Without the assistance of historians and archaeologists, this burial ground, which may hold up to 1,000 soldiers, could have been turned into a strip mall or parking lot. Recent research has definitively named eighty-six of the soldiers buried there. These soldiers who fought and died in the name of freedom, deserve to be recognized and not forgotten. Hopefully a resolution will soon be reached and the eight acres surrounding the burial site will be preserved and interpreted for its contribution to the American Revolution.

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