The Union County annual public history event, “Four Centuries in a Weekend: A Journey through Union County’s History,” will take place Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 16 from noon to 5 p.m. Free events will take place over the weekend at 24 locations throughout Union County.
“Four Centuries in a Weekend began in 1994 when 16 historic sites and the County of Union organized a weekend event to tell the story of how Elizabethtown of 1664 evolved into the 21 municipalities of today’s Union County,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon. “Whether you’re a curious first-time visitor or a long-time neighbor, we hope you enjoy your journey through our history.”
Five of the 24 historic sites open for free tours during Four Centuries in a Weekend will feature special activities developed in observance of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War. For eye-opening outdoor history tours visit Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside and the Rahway Cemetery at Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum, the final resting places for hundreds of New Jersey Civil War soldiers and sailors. Visitors are reminded to look for the letters “USCT,” for United States Colored Troops, on the grave markers of many forgotten African American soldiers and sailors.
In honor of Cranford’s Civil War veterans, the Crane-Phillips House Museum will present an encampment of re-enactors of Company D, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers. Visit the Roselle Park Museum and experience the lives and loves of local Civil War veterans through an exhibit featuring portraits of Union and Confederate military leaders, pictures of battle scenes, copies of photos by renowned 19th century photographer Matthew Brady, documents and memorabilia pertaining to the war. Travel to the Cannon Ball House in Springfield and view an exhibit of Civil War artifacts and a collection of letters between a Civil War soldier, Sergeant Wellington Briant, and his family.
There is plenty more history to discover at the remaining Four Centuries in a Weekend historic sites, including:
First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth and burial ground, the first English-speaking congregation in New Jersey;
Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth, residence of Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress (1782-83), and Jonathan Dayton, one of four New Jersey signers of the United States Constitution in 1787;
Liberty Hall Museum in Union, home to William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey;
The beautifully restored Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway;
Five authentic farmhouses: Dr. William Robinson Plantation Museum in Clark, Woodruff House/Eaton Store Museum in Hillside, Salt Box Museum in New Providence, the Carter House in Summit, and Miller-Cory House Museum in Westfield;
Four American Revolutionary Front Line sites: Drake House Museum in Plainfield, Abraham Clark House in Roselle, Osborn Cannonball House in Scotch Plains, and Caldwell Parsonage in Union;
Pre- and post-Civil War early commerce and industry related sites: Deserted Village of Feltville-Glenside Park in Berkeley Heights, Woodruff House/Eaton Store Museum in Hillside, and the Oswald J. Nitschke House in Kenilworth;
Historic countryside sites including Twin Maples and Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit; Summit Playhouse; Deacon Andrew Hetfield House in Mountainside; the Drake House Museum in Plainfield; and the Deserted Village of Feltville-Glenside Park in Berkeley Heights.
“Four Centuries in a Weekend” is made possible by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
For this self-guided journey, free copies of the Historic Sites Tour booklets containing brief descriptions of the sites and illustrated maps can be obtained by contacting the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and the historic sites. Telephone: 908-558-2550 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. NJ Relay Users can call 711. Or E-mail: Culturalinfo@ucnj.org. The contact information is the same for schools and other groups requesting lesson plans and activity kits.
For more information about any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release. Please join the County of Union online at www.ucnj.org, on Facebook at www.ucnj.org/facebook, and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/countyofunionnj .