Thursday, June 28, 2018

NJ Weekend Historical Happenings: 6/30/18 - 7/1/18

 New Jersey Weekend Historical Happenings
A Weekly Feature on www.thehistorygirl.com
Want to submit an event? Use our event submission form.


Saturday, June 30 - Flemington, Hunterdon County
The Union Hotel Named a Historic Site in Journalism

Join us in Flemington at the Hunterdon County Historical Society at 12:00 noon on Saturday when the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists unveils a plaque commemorating the role of the Union Hotel as the hub of world-wide media coverage during the Lindbergh kidnapping trial in 1935.

The plaque commemorates the hotel’s role in housing an international press corps that converged on Flemington for the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was tried and convicted for the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Reporters covering the trial included Arthur Brisbane, H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker, Damon Runyon, and Walter Winchell.

The Union Hotel is the first site in New Jersey to be added to SPJ’s National List of Historic Sites in Journalism.

The Society’s Historic Sites in Journalism program honors the people and places that have played important roles in American journalistic history. The program began in 1942.

Other historic sites include The Pennsylvania Packet in Philadelphia, the first successful daily newspaper in the United States and first to publish the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, Freedom’s Journal in New York City, the first Black newspaper published in the United States and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The plaque will be unveiled at the Hunterdon Historical Society Library at 114 Main St. in Flemington, NJ. The Historical Society has agreed to take temporary custody of the plaque until the future of the Union Hotel becomes more clear. All are welcome to attend this free event. For further information, contact John Ensslin at 973-513-5632.

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Saturday, June 30 - Brielle, Monmouth County
1864 'base ball' Game
Children Friendly Event

Two rival teams in the Mid-Atlantic Vintage Base Ball League will be playing by 1864 rules on Saturday in Brielle.

That means they'll be swinging wood bats at underhand pitches -- and there will a lot of bare-handed catches because the sport did not allow gloves 154 years ago.

The Monmouth Furnace and New York Mutual Base Ball Clubs will take the field game at 11:00 am in Brielle Park, at Union Lane and South Street. Brielle's Union Landing Historical Society and the borough recreation department are sponsoring the event. Admission will be free.

The name of the national pastime was two words in 1864 – base ball. The team names are historic, too. Monmouth Furnace was the original name of the Allaire Iron Works in the 1800s, now a restored Wall Township village where that team started. The New York club's name pays tribute to a Manhattan team of the same name that played its home games in Hoboken 1857-67 and in Brooklyn 1868-1876. It was a charter member of the National League in 1876, but went bankrupt before the end of the season.

"There's a lot of baseball history in New Jersey and in the Shore region," he said. "The first competitive game was played in 1845 in Hoboken -- not in Cooperstown, New York. In the 1850s, teams representing Long Branch resort hotels played on inland fields around Monmouth County. In 1898, the Brooklyn and New York teams of the National League had spring training in Allaire and Lakewood, respectively." 

McIver's club combines its love of the sport and history in exhibition games and hard-fought matches against league rivals on spring and summer weekends. Next on its schedule are Little Silver, Piscataway, Atlantic Highlands and even games in nearby states. McIver said he's always looking for more baseball and softball players who want to have “good old-fashioned fun by making history come alive on the diamond.”

The Monmouth Furnace team ranges from teenagers and senior citizens, including “muffins” (rookies) as well as “corkers” (good players). Both clubs are hoping to attract a lot of “cranks” (fans) on Saturday. Spectators are urged to bring lawn chairs and refreshments.

More information is available from McIver at 732-859-7643 or furnace@monmouth.com.

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Saturday, June 30 - Holmdel, Monmouth County
Cookstove Demonstration & Crochet/Lacemaking Demonstration 
Children Friendly Site & Event

On Saturday, visit Historic Longstreet Farm in Holmdel to see what is cooking on the woodstove in the out kitchen. Discover how food, recipes, cooking techniques and the kitchen itself has changed since the 1890s. 

Dorothy Gratton will visit Longstreet Farm demonstrating the art of crocheting and lacemaking in the Victorian era.

These free events runs from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. 

Historic Longstreet Farm is located at 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel, NJ. For more information, call 732-946-3758 or visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com.

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Saturday, June 30 -  Morris Township, Morris County
Meet the Servants at The Willows & Herbalicious!
Children Friendly Event and Site

On Saturday at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, at 1:00 and 2:00 pm, during a hands-on guided tour, learn about the role of the domestic servants at the Foster home, The Willows, during the WWI era. Help the maid with household chores, and learn it was a full workout to keep a proper house. At the end of the tour, you can help the cook prepare historic foods using the wood-burning cook stove.

From 1:00 - 2:00 pm, gather at the Farmhouse herb garden to discover how herbs enhance the taste of food. Make a sachet to take home.

Admission: $6 for adults; $5 for seniors (65+); $4 for children ages 4 – 16; and $2 for children ages 2 and 3. FREE for children under age 2 and Friends members with a current membership card. Fosterfields Living Historical Farm is located at 73 Kahdena Road, Morristown, NJ. For more information, visit www.morrisparks.net.

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Saturday, June 30 - Hopewell Township, Mercer County
Ice Cream Party
Children Friendly Site

On Saturday, Howell Living History Farm invites the public to enjoy an old fashioned "ice cream party."  Featured activities include music, wagon rides, games and contests, a children’s craft program and lots of ice cream making and eating.

Ice cream making will begin and visitors are invited to help draw and grind ice from the Farm's ice house. The first batch of homemade ice cream will be ready for dipping at 12:00 noon. Ice cream sodas and sundaes will be served until 3:30 pm.

Howell Living Farm represents typical farm life between 1890 and 1910. The farm is operated by the Mercer County Parks Commission. It is located at 70 Wooden's Lane, Lambertville, NJ. For more information. call 609-737-3299 or visit www.howellfarm.org.

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Saturdays through September 1, 2018  - Cape May Point, Cape May County
The Keeper's on Duty
Children Friendly Event

What's it like to be a Lighthouse Keeper?  If you’d like the answer to this question and others, join us for The Keeper's On Duty, at the Education Center at Cape May Point State Park (adjacent to the Cape May Lighthouse) on Saturday at 1:15 pm. The Keeper of the Cape May Lighthouse presents an informative and entertaining half hour talk on the history and lore of the famous 1859 Cape May Lighthouse. Suited for everyone from children to lighthouse buffs, it’s the perfect introduction to your lighthouse climb! All Keeper's on Duty are free and open to the public. Cape May Point State Park is located at 215 Light House Avenue, Cape May Point, NJ. Co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and Cape May Point State Park. For more information, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

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Saturdays through September 1, 2018 - Cape May Point, Cape May County
Lighthouse Storytime
Children Friendly Event

Bring your young children to the Education Center in Cape May Point State Park (adjacent to the Cape May Lighthouse) to listen to nautical tales and lighthouse adventure stories on Saturday at 12:30 pm. Free admission. Cape May Point State Park is located at 215 Light House Avenue, Cape May Point, NJ. Co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and Cape May Point State Park. For more information, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

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Saturday, June 30 - Cape May, Cape May County
Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour
Family Friendly

Take this spine-tingling, 30-minute evening trolley ride through the streets of Cape May with a guide who relates the paranormal findings of medium Craig McManus on Saturday at 7:45 pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12). Tours leave from the Washington Street Mall Information Booth at Ocean Street. 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.

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Saturday - Sunday, June 30 - July 1 - Cape May, Cape May County
Emlen Physick Estate Tour
Family Friendly Tour

Take a guided tour of Cape May's Emlen Physick Estate, the magnificent Stick Style mansion attributed to renowned Victorian architect Frank Furness. A tour of the 15 beautifully restored rooms gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle of this Victorian-era Cape May family. Physick Estate Tours take approximately 45 minutes and end with a visit to the 1876 Carriage House where you can see the current exhibit in the Carroll Gallery. The tour starts at 11:45 am and ends at approximately 12:30 pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children (ages 3-12). Tickets can be purchased at the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ. Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). For more information and to reserve tickets, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or visit www.capemaymac.org.

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Saturday - Sunday, June 30 - July 1 - Lower Township, Cape May County
World War II Tower Lookout Museum and Memorial Open
Family Friendly

Fire Control Tower No. 23 on Sunset Boulevard is New Jersey's last freestanding World War II tower, part of the immense Harbor Defense of the Delaware system known as Fort Miles. After an award-winning restoration in 2009, visitors can climb to the 6th floor spotting gallery while learning about the homeland defense efforts during World War II. The ground floor of the tower, the All Veterans Memorial, and boardwalk interpretive panels are fully accessible. Open Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children (ages 3-12) (One child free with paying adult). The World War II Lookout Tower is located on Sunset Boulevard in Lower Township, near Cape May Point. 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.

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Saturday - Sunday, June 30 - July 1 - Sandy Hook, Monmouth County
The Big Three: Battery Potter, Battery Granger and Mortar Battery

Meet with park staff to tour three historic batteries at Sandy Hook this weekend.

Battery Potter: Explore and tour Sandy Hook's oldest disappearing gun battery.  This is also the first concrete gun battery that was built in America, completed in 1895. 

Mortar Battery: Join a park ranger guided tour of the Mortar Battery and learn about the first Endicott era (1894 - 1910) concrete gun battery that defended New York and its harbor against attack by enemy warships.

Nine Gun Battery: When construction began 1897, the battery was originally intended to mount three 10-inch caliber disappearing guns, but when construction was completed in 1902, an additional six guns were emplaced creating a nine gun battery that operated until 1944.

These free tours begin at 1:00 pm for Battery Potter and at 1:30 pm for Mortar Battery and Nine Gun Battery. All tours run continuously until 4:30 pm. They are located with the Fort Hancock Historic Post at Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook is part of Gateway National Recreation Area. For more information, call 732-872-5970 or visit www.nps.gov/gate.

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Saturday - Sunday, June 30 - July 1 - Cape May, Cape May County
Independence Day Celebration
Children Friendly Event & Site

Helebrate all things American at Historic Cold Spring Village’s annual Independence Day Celebration, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 30th and July 1st, from 10 am to 4:30 pm. A variety of patriotic family activities, programs and music will be taking place and the Village’s restored historic buildings will be open, featuring demonstrations of Early American trades and crafts.

At 11:30 am on Saturday, at the Dennisville Inn, there will be a War of 1812 Militia Muster for children ages 5 to 12. At 12:30 pm the Village’s Deputy Director for Education, Jim Stephens, will present The Story of Old Glory, a fascinating look at the origins and history of our nation's flag at the Village Gazebo. At 2:00 pm, the John Walter Cape Community Band will perform American heritage tunes at the Village Gazebo.

On Sunday, July 2nd at 1:00 pm the Dennisville Inn, there will be a War of 1812 Militia Muster for children ages 5 to 12. At 3:00 pm the Village’s Deputy Director for Education, Jim Stephens, will again present The Story of Old Glory.

The Family Activity Area will feature children’s historic games, and take-home patriotic crafts. Kids can also take part in the “Patriot Spy Game,” visiting Village buildings to look for clues using a real Revolutionary War cipher.

Historic Cold Spring Village is a non-profit, open-air living history museum that portrays the daily life of a rural South Jersey community of the Early American period. It features 26 restored historic structures on a 30-acre site. Tuesday through Sunday, from late June to early September, interpreters and artisans in period clothing preserve the trades, crafts and heritage of “the age of homespun.” Fun and educational activities for children are featured Tuesday through Sunday, with special events every weekend through September.

The Village is located on Route 9, three miles north of Victorian Cape May and a mile and a half west of the southern terminus of the Garden State Parkway. Admission during the season is $14 for adults and $12 for children ages 3 to 12. Children under 3 are admitted free. Unlimited free admission is available with Village membership. The Village Nature Trail at Bradner's Run is open to the public for free self-guided tours. For more information, call 609-898-2300, ext. 10, or visit www.hcsv.org.

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Sunday, July 1 - West Orange, Essex County
Geothermal Tour at the Glenmont Estate

Go "behind the scenes" at the Edison home. Join a guide for a walk through the basement of the famous house and learn about its new geothermal heating and cooling system. This program will last about 30 minutes at take place at 1:30 and again at 2:30 pm. It focuses on the technical aspects of the environmentally friendly geothermal system. The basement is not wheelchair accessible.

The tour is included with regular admission. Tickets must be purchased at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park Laboratory Complex Visitor Center at 211 Main Street, West Orange, NJ. Admission is $10.00 for adults, and includes the Glenmont Estate and the Laboratory Complex. Children under age 16 are free. For more information, call 973-736-0550 x33 or visit www.nps.gov/edis.

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Sunday, July 1 - Piscataway, Middlesex County
A Star Spangled Sing-Along at the Metlar-Bodine House Museum
Family Friendly Event

Start your July 4th holiday at a Star Spangled sing-along on Saturday from 3:00 - 5:00 pm! Piscataway’s students – elementary through high school – will give dramatic readings, recite poetry and lead the audience in singing patriotic songs on the lawn at the Metlar-Bodine House, Piscataway Township's official historical museum! And everyone will sing "Happy Birthday" to America before enjoying birthday cake!  Guests must bring their own chairs.  The Dutch Door Gift Shop will be open.

There will be NO rain date. In the event of rain, the program will be cancelled. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 732-463-8363 or visit www.metlarbodinehousemuseum.org.

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Sunday, July 1 - Farmingdale, Monmouth County
Independence Day Celebration
Children Friendly Event & Site

The members of the Howell Iron Works celebrate the founding of our nation with an Independence Celebration on Sunday from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm. Experience a day in the life of people during the 1830s. Participate in militia drills. The Declaration of Independence will be read at 1:30 pm in front of the General Store. Toasts will be made to the day and refreshments served at the Allaire Residence. A chance to participate in games for adults and children alike. This event is free for the public but there is a parking fee of $5.00 collected at the park entrance.

The Historic Village at Allaire is located at 4263 Atlantic Avenue, Farmingdale, NJ. For more information, contact the Allaire Village office during business hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, at 732-919-3500 or visit www.allairevillage.org.

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Sunday, July 1 - Princeton, Mercer County
Historic Princeton Walking Tour
Children Friendly Tour

Enjoy a 1.9 mile, two-hour walk around downtown Princeton and the University campus as you learn about historic sites in the area, including Bainbridge House, Nassau Hall, the University Chapel, and Palmer Square. The early history of Princeton, the founding of the University, and the American Revolution are just some of the stories from Princeton’s history that you will learn on your tour.

Admission: $7 per adult; $4 children ages 6 to 12; free for children age 5 and under. Tours begin in front of the Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ. Tour begins at 2:00 pm and ends at 4:00 pm. Walk up ticket sales are cash only; guides cannot provide change. Space is limited. For more information and to reserve tickets, call 609-921-6748 or visit www.princetonhistory.org.

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Saturday, July 1 -  Morris Township, Morris County
Bugs on the Farm
Children Friendly Event and Site

On Saturday at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, from 1:00 - 2:00 pm, learn about the insects that are beneficial to a farm and those that could cause a farmer to lose his crops.

Admission: $6 for adults; $5 for seniors (65+); $4 for children ages 4 – 16; and $2 for children ages 2 and 3. FREE for children under age 2 and Friends members with a current membership card. Fosterfields Living Historical Farm is located at 73 Kahdena Road, Morristown, NJ. For more information, visit www.morrisparks.net.

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Sunday, July 1 - Morristown, Morris County
Construction Tours

Morris County Historical Society is offering the public a unique opportunity to see first-hand the highly anticipated and long-awaited final phase of the exterior restoration of Acorn Hall.

Led by Executive Director, Amy Curry, the tour will offer a special look at all the work that brought MCHS to this point. While the repainting of Acorn Hall in its 1860 to 1880 paint scheme is the keynote project of this year’s endeavors, a substantial amount of related work is also underway or has been completed. Ms. Curry will also discuss the historic principals, rooted in the Hall’s restoration, that significantly influenced the landscape redesign and how the restoration will change the way the Hall is interpreted.

Reservations are required and space is limited. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased by visiting MorrisCountyHistory.org or by calling 973-267-3465. 

MCHS is located at Acorn Hall, 68 Morris Avenue, Morristown, NJ and is open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm, and Sundays, 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Admission, which includes the exhibits and landscaped grounds, is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for students, and is free for children under 12 and MCHS members. For more information, call 973-267-3465 or visit www.morriscountyhistory.org.

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Through Tuesday, July 31 - Montclair, Essex County
Nubian Heritage Quilters Guild Presents Harlem Renaissance “All that Jazz"
Family Friendly

The Nubian Heritage Quilters was established to preserve, and document the importance of African American quilting. Serving the community, to encourage and revitalize others in their knowledge of this craft, to give them a sense of their heritage through quilting. The exhibit will be held at the Crane House & Historic YWCA. For more information on the exhibit visit www.nubianquilters.org. Demonstrations in hand piecing, machine piecing, hand quilting, rotary cutting and appliqué, and crazy quilt blocks. Special exhibits in Trees of Life, small little village, postcards, “The Great Migration” – Jacob Lawrence, Surprise Art Quilts, and “Oppression by Any other Name.” Exhibit demonstrations will be held on June 16 and 17 from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Admission is $6 adults, $2 students, children 5 & under are free. The exhibit will also be open to the public on July 15 from 1:00 - 4:00 pm or by appointment, regular admission rates of the Montclair History Center apply. The Crane House & Historic YWCA is located at 110 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ. For more information, call 973-744-1796, e-mail mail@montclairhistorical.org, or visit www.montclairhistorical.org.

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Through September, 2018 - Freehold, Monmouth County
Summer at the Jersey Shore Exhibition

The months of June through August mean a time of sun, fun, and outdoor activities at the Jersey Shore. Monmouth County Historical Association now features an exhibition that captures some of the various pastimes that were offered to visitors years ago during the summer season. Summer at the Jersey Shore will remain on view through September 2018. Museum hours are Tuesdays - Saturdays 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. 

Paintings, prints, and drawings dating from 1850 to 1940 illustrate such things as horse racing, sun and sea bathing, sport fishing, casino gambling, preaching on the beach, steamboats that served the shore, and shore landscapes. Artists represented include Alfred T. Bricher, George C. Lambdin, Winslow Homer, August Kollner, John W. Alexander, Theodore R. Davis of Asbury Park, and Michel Jacobs of Rumson. Scenes depict activities at Sea Bright, Long Branch, Monmouth Park, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Manasquan, and Cape May. Souvenirs displayed from Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, and Red Bank displays the types of mementos that shore visitors could purchase as a token of their summertime experience, either as a day-tripper or as an extended stay guest at one of the many hotels and boarding houses available in New Jersey's coastal communities.

In many respects, shore visitors of the twenty-first century can take advantage of the same range of activities as those who enjoyed the area's attractions in the nineteenth century, with a large gap in between. In 1894, New Jersey outlawed horse racing and gambling. In the intervening years, they have been restored. Horse racing returned to a new Monmouth Park in 1946, casino gambling to Atlantic City in 1976, and Governor Murphy placed the first bet under the new sports betting law at Monmouth Park on June 13. The sun, sandy beaches, saltwater fishing, social life, and easy access from Philadelphia or New York continue to draw thousands of visitors to the Jersey Shore each year.

For more information, visit www.monmouthhistory.org.

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Through Wednesday, October 31, 2018 - Cape May, Cape May County
Capturing Cape May's Architecture: The Making of a National Historic Landmark

In the early 1970s, a team from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) produced pen and ink drawings of Cape May, NJ's most significant historic structures that were instrumental in saving this seaside town - "the best-preserved late 19th century resort in America." The drawings enabled Cape May to become a National Historic Landmark and a national tourist destination. Now, for the first time, these intricate drawings and the stories of the architects whose hands created them are on exhibit at the Carroll Gallery. Curator Karen Fox, author of The Chalfonte, provides visitors with a unique look at how a small band of preservationists saved not only the buildings, but a culture of the past creating a future. The exhibit "Capturing Cape May's Architecture: The Making of a National Historic Landmark" is on display at the Carroll Gallery in the Carriage House of the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ. The exhibit is presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) and is open daily through Wednesday, October 31, 2018; times vary. Admission is free. MAC is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC's year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC's www.capemaymac.org.

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Through December 28, 2018 -  Morristown, Morris County
George Washington’s Headquarters: Photographs by Xiomáro

Morristown National Historical Park (NHP) invites the public to view the exhibition George Washington’s Headquarters: Photographs by Xiomáro. The 22 large images of the Ford Mansion – Washington’s base of operations during the Revolutionary War winter of 1779-1780 – are on view in the museum until December 28, 2018. The exhibition of Xio’s photographs of Washington’s Revolutionary War headquarters highlights the house’s dual role as a residence. 

Xiomáro (pronounced “SEE-oh-MAH-ro”) is an internationally-recognized artist and speaker whose photography has been covered by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and CBS Eyewitness News. His work has been widely exhibited at venues such as Harvard University and New York City’s Fraunces Tavern Museum. Next year, Arcadia Publishing is releasing Xio’s photo book, Weir Farm National Historic Site, about Julian Alden Weir, the father of American Impressionist painting.

A free eBook of the photographs is available at www.xiomaro.comThe exhibit is at the Morristown National Historical Park’s Washington Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ. Admission is free. For more information. visit www.nps.gov/morr.

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Through 2018 - Woodbury, Gloucester County
Out of the Box: Rare & Unusual Objects

Intrigued about what might lie behind closed doors in a museum? Out of the Box: Rare & Unusual Objects, our new exhibit at the Gloucester County Historical Society Museum, will give visitors a peek into some of our most exceptional artifacts. Objects that have not been on view to the public for years will be out on display for all to see. We have chosen an array of unique items from every category imaginable in the museum’s collection. Most of these artifacts are between 100 – 200 years old, and haven’t seen the light of day in decades. Come to experience the rare, odd, quirky, beautiful, and even creepy treasures just waiting to be revealed. The exhibit opens on Sunday, April 29 when admission will be free that day! The exhibit will be closed on Mondays, and summer Sundays, but open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:00 - 4:00 pm from May 2 through the summer months. Monday hours will resume on September 5, 2018, along with last Sunday of the month hours. Please visit www.gchsnj.org for further details. The Gloucester County Historical Society Museum is located at 58 N. Broad Street, Woodbury, NJ. For more information, call 856-848-8531 or visit www.gchsnj.org.

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Through December 30, 2018 - Piscataway, Middlesex County
Over There, Over Here: New Jersey During orld War I 


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Through June 2019 - Ocean Township, Monmouth County
"Wet as the Atlantic Ocean: Prohibition in New Jersey”

The 18th Amendment—the measure that made the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcoholic beverages a federal offense for the 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, and 17 hours of Prohibition—was repealed in 1933. It is the only Constitution Amendment ever to be undone. And its doing and undoing were the results of a tug-of-war between the “Wets” and the “Drys” that played out across the country.

A new exhibit opening to the public Sunday, in the Richmond Gallery of the Eden Woolley House reveals where New Jersey stood in that tug-of-war. “Wet as the Atlantic Ocean: Prohibition in NJ” brings the debates, glamour, and violence of the Roaring Twenties home.

How did it happen?
The prohibition debate had been argued across the country for nearly a century before the 18th Amendment outlawed alcohol nationwide. Maine passed the first state prohibition law in 1846 and by the Civil War, several other states had followed suit.

So what happened in the first decades of the next century to elevate debate into a campaign for a Constitutional Amendment—that took the fight national?

• Drunkenness was a real problem. The proliferation of saloons fueled a drinking culture, and between 1900 and 1913, beer and alcohol consumption soared. Women and families suffered.
• Women had been campaigning for abstinence since the early 1800s, By the turn of the century they were finding their voice, stridently advocating for the vote-— and increasingly for prohibition. Organizations like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union were gaining ground.
• Many Americans felt threatened by the influx of immigrants whose cultural norms around alcohol threatened prevailing white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant values.
• On the global scene, the unthinkable carnage of the First World War and the alarming success of the Russian Revolution fueled a nostalgic longing for control and order.

Under these conditions, pro-prohibition sentiment grew. By 1919 more than half the country lived in dry states, counties, or towns. If the 18th Amendment were to be passed, it needed to happen before the 1920 census, the results of which would give greater power to the anti-prohibition cities.

The last state to Ratify
Ours was the last state to ratify the 18th amendment and it did so in 1922, two years after the measure was in effect. (Rhode Island and Connecticut never ratified.) We fought Prohibition in court. New Jersey joined Rhode Island in a losing challenge before the Supreme Court (1920). And we were back in 1931, when the Supreme Court overruled a New Jersey federal judge’s decision invalidating the 18th Amendment.

New Jersey’s Resistance
It’s no surprise, then, that Prohibition enforcement in New Jersey was lax. Local fishermen and boaters shuttled bootlegged liquor to shore from rum-running ships lined up just outside the legal limit. Speakeasies thrived with little risk of raid. The state underfunded enforcement. Corruption was rampant. Local police turned a blind eye. Even the teetotaling and incorruptible Ira Reeves, the man put in charge of federal enforcement in New Jersey, resigned after eight months and took up the anti-Prohibition cause!

This exhibit runs through June 2019. The Township of Ocean Historical Museum offers exhibits on the history of coastal Monmouth County and a full calendar of events. The Museum also houses a library and archive of local history. It is open, free of charge, 1:00 - 4:00 pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday, 7:00 - 9:00 pm Thursday evenings, and 1:00 - 4:00 pm the first and second Sundays of each month. The Township of Ocean Historical Museum is located at 703 Deal Road, Ocean, NJ. For more information, visit www.oceanmuseum.org.

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

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