FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15, 2007

CONTACT: Tom Plante, 908-527-4746
Seb D’Elia, 908-527-4419

 

Ghost of Deserted Village Founder to Lead Tours of Feltville, Oct. 20-21
Event is part of Union County’s annual “Four Centuries in a Weekend”

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – In 1845, David Felt built a mill along the Blue Brook, plus two dams to supply water power for that mill, and an entire town to house all of the people who would work there. That town became known as Feltville. On Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21, David Felt will return to lead tours of the town that once housed hundreds of workers and family members. The mile-long tours start at 2:00 p.m. each day during the weekend-long free open house of the historic site, as part of Union County’s “Four Centuries in a Weekend” celebration.

Feltville was a thriving mill town until 1860. After being sold by Felt, the village became deserted, but was reborn in 1882 as Glenside Park, a summer resort. This business closed in 1916 and the village was again deserted until it was purchased by the Union County Park Commission in the 1920's. Feltville today contains ten buildings and the archaeological remains of a vibrant community nestled in Union County’s largest park, the 2,065-acre Watchung Reservation, in Berkeley Heights.

“In 1980, the area in and around Feltville was designated an historic district on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites,” said Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. “This includes a Revolutionary War period cemetery containing some of the area’s earliest residents. The County of Union is restoring the buildings and grounds. The recent construction of utility lines into the area will allow us to open an Interpretive Center to serve the public.”

Enter the Deserted Village via Cataract Hollow Road, off of Glenside Avenue on the Berkeley Heights side of the Watchung Reservation. Wear warm clothes and sturdy walking shoes. Staffed activities will occur at the Deserted Village from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, and from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21. Visitors may pick up a map and narrative for a self-guided tour at Feltville’s parking lot. Most of the Village’s buildings and grounds can be seen from a hayride, which will run continuously both days.

Union County Parks Department staff will be stationed at the restored Church/General Store all weekend to answer questions. This building also will house an exhibit of artifacts found at the site, photos of that building being restored, and plans for future restoration. A hands-on demonstration of apples being pressed into cider will be ongoing. Elsewhere in the Village, children can play old-fashioned games or learn how to make paper. All of these activities are offered free of charge. Light refreshments will be available for purchase at the General Store and picnic tables are available for families wanting to pack a lunch.

This year’s “Four Centuries” festival is part of the celebration of Union County’s 150th anniversary and will feature lively musical performances and re-enactors in historical costumes at 25 sites throughout the county. Don’t miss the Civil War re-enactors of the 6th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, where you will learn the little-known story of the African-Americans who fought in the Civil War. See actors portray Sojourner Truth at the Drake House in Plainfield, and Eleanor Roosevelt at Twin Maples in Summit. Meet a soldier from the Mexican-American War at Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth. Taste colonial recipes at the Miller-Cory House in Westfield, and watch the “Jersey Blues,” soldiers from the Revolutionary War, drill at the Cannon Ball House in Springfield.

All activities for the “Four Centuries” weekend are rain or shine. Hear singers, storytellers, or musicians at sites in Clark, Cranford, Kenilworth, Mountainside, New Providence, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Summit, and Union. Volunteers in period costumes will show you the best of every location. Stroll through gardens at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, or Liberty Hall in Union, where our state’s first governor lived. You might even be surprised by a ghost at the Nitschke House in Kenilworth.

“Four Centuries in a Weekend” is a public history event made possible by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and funded in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the New Jersey Department of State.

To obtain a free copy of the guide booklet and map, contact the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, 908-558-2550 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. NJ Relay Users dial 711. Or E-mail: culturalinfo@ucnj.org. Check the free booklet for details about each site. It features photos and information about the 25 participating heritage sites, their historic significance, and a list of all the special activities on the weekend of Oct. 20-21.

For additional information about the Deserted Village of Feltville/Glenside Park, call Trailside Nature and Science Center, 452 New Providence Road, Mountainside, (908) 789-3670. Information about other Four Centuries in a Weekend sites is available on the Union County website at www.ucnj.org/cultural/4centuries/fourcenturies07brochure.pdf.