FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2008

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

 

Grand Opening of Visitors Center at Deserted Village, Oct. 19;
Ghost of Village Founder Leads Tours during ‘Four Centuries in a Weekend’

Grand Opening of Visitors Center at Deserted Village

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – In 1845, David Felt built a mill along the Blue Brook, two dams to
supply water power for that mill, and an entire town on the bluff above the mill to house the people who would work there. The town became known as Feltville. Today it is called the Deserted Village.

On Sunday, October 19, at 1:00 p.m., the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal will celebrate the grand opening of the Visitors Center in the Deserted Village’s general store, which was also used for religious services during David Felt’s era. The public is welcome to attend the Grand Opening ceremonies along with invited elected officials and representatives of local historical societies.

According to Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada, the Deserted Village of Feltville of 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,” Freeholder Estrada said. “This includes a Revolutionary War period cemetery of some of the area’s earliest residents. Union County is in the process of restoring the buildings and grounds. The recent construction of utility lines into the area allows us to open this Visitors Center in the church/general store building to serve the public.”

Grand Opening of Visitors Center at Deserted Village

On Saturday, October 18 and Sunday, October 19, the ghost of David Felt will return to lead tours of the factory town that once housed hundreds of workers and family members. The
mile-long tours, which start at 2:00 p.m. each day, occur during the weekend-long open house of the historic site, as part of Union County’s “Four Centuries in a Weekend” celebration.

Feltville was a thriving mill town from 1845 to 1860. After being sold by Felt, the village wasted away and 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 being purchased by the Union County Park Commission during the 1920’s.

As part of the Four Centuries in a Weekend program, staffed activities will occur at the Deserted Village from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18, and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19. 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.

Parks Department staff will be stationed at the restored Church/General Store all weekend to answer questions. This building also houses an exhibit of artifacts found at the site and photos of the building being restored. 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. Picnic tables are available for families wanting to pack a lunch.

All activities for the Four Centuries weekend are rain or shine. 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.

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.
Tickets are still available at Trailside for Haunted Hayrides that will run at the Deserted Village
on Oct. 24-26. Information about 24 other Four Centuries in a Weekend sites is available from the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, (908) 558-2550, or on the Union County website at www.ucnj.org/cultural/4centuries/4Centuries08.pdf.