Public Info

Explore Union County History at War, Peace and Play

Experience life on the home front during World War II, enjoy games and activities at the first Black-owned country club in the U.S., listen to the sounds of a beautifully restored vaudeville organ, and explore many more hidden corners of Union County history during Four Centuries in a Weekend, October 15-16.

black and white photo of a group of people posed for the camera
Credit: University of South Carolina Newsfilm Archive

The Union County Board of County Commissioners invites residents and visitors to experience hundreds of years of history at three dozen historical sites in two days, during the annual Four Centuries in a Weekend event coming up on Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16.

black and white image of a woman using a phone

“Our connections to the past inform our hopes for the future, and that is why it is so important to understand the people, places and events that shape our present,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca L. Williams. “On behalf of the Commissioner Board, we thank the staff and volunteers at our participating historical sites for their time, energy and dedication to historical accuracy. Four Centuries in a Weekend would not be possible without them.”

Throughout the weekend, Four Centuries sites will feature special tours, exhibits, performances and unique activities, enabling participants to walk in the very footsteps of those who lived in Union County hundreds of years ago, during times of war as well as peace.

Among the Revolutionary War sites is the Osborn Cannonball House Museum. Two of the 13 siblings raised in that home were soldiers in the Revolutionary War, far from the toys and games they enjoyed as children. Visitors can explore a collection of 18th century toys and play a game of quoits or 9-pin bowling.

At the Dr. William Robinson Plantation Museum in Clark, visitors can immerse themselves in a World War II living history program and learn about civilian efforts that supported troops, including a USO show, uniform and weaponry displays, and a signal corps tent with authentic, functioning equipment.

In peacetime, many Union County residents flocked to the Rahway Theatre in Rahway, a vintage vaudeville house and movie theatre that opened in 1928 with all the trimmings including a Wurlitzer pipe organ. The site is fully restored as the Main Stage of the Union County Performing Arts Center. Historian and author Irv Hyatt will lead theatre tours both days. Four Centuries visitors will learn how projectionists operate the film equipment, and hear the organ run through its paces at the touch of a key, including drums, cymbals and a xylophone.

Another aspect of early 20th century leisure is illustrated by the Shady Rest Country Club in Scotch Plains, the first Black-owned country club in the United States. Four Centuries visitors can enjoy free activities including mini-golf, a putting contest with prizes, arts and crafts, horseback riding (Saturday only), and live jazz (Sunday only) along with tours and exhibits.

Shady Rest will also host a screening of the documentary “A Place for Us,” which chronicles the important role of Shady Rest in the life and culture of the community. The film also features John Shippen, the first African-American professional golfer to play in the U.S. Open.

Many sites in Union County offer special activities during during Four Centuries in a Weekend, including:

Berkeley Heights — Deserted Village of Feltville / Glenside Park

1 Cataract Hollow Rd., Berkeley Heights


• Apple cider pressing

• Hayrides

• Walking tour led by archaeologist Carissa Scarpa (departs 2:00 pm from Masker’s Barn on Sat. and Sun.); learn about excavations that revealed the social history of certain significant periods here, through examination of physical evidence

• Activities for children: old-fashioned children’s games; quill and ink pen writing

• Campfire with marshmallow toasting

• Learn about this village’s history in multiple ways: interpretive panels, audio tour, museum displays, booklet for a self-guided tour, or an armchair tour presented by “David Felt”

• Meet costumed characters from Feltville history, including Revolutionary War soldier John Willcocks, and David Felt, who owned and developed the mill town here

• View recently completed restoration work on House #7

Most buildings and activities in the village are wheelchair-accessible via visitors’ own vehicle or golf cart, provided on site. Historic buildings and activities are spread out over a large area.

Parking available in three areas on site. Attendants will direct you as you turn onto Cataract Hollow Rd. Inform attendant of accommodations needed for people with disabilities.

Clark — Dr. William Robinson Plantation Museum

593 Madison Hill Rd., Clark


Saturday: open 11 am–4 pm and 8–10 pm *

Sunday: open 11 am – 3 pm

• Tours this 3-floor museum, a circa-1690 building

• Interactive displays outdoors and indoors

• Functioning 1919 Model T on display

• Living History program about World War II armed forces, from multiple sides and theaters of the war; learn about civilian efforts that supported troops, including a USO show. Displays include uniforms, weapons, and a signal corps tent with working equipment (Saturday evening tour: Experience the World War II encampment at night).

• Gift shop

• Herb garden featuring plants considered medicinal

1st floor of building is wheelchair-accessible. Video shown on 1st floor is a virtual tour of basement and attic levels.

Street parking available.

Cranford — Crane-Phillips House Museum

124 North Union Ave., Cranford


• Tour this Civil War-era cottage home

• “Celebrating Cranford’s Finest” exhibit commemorates the 125th anniversary of Cranford Police Dept. and the 135th anniversary of the Fire Dept. — with displays of all police officers and chiefs since 1870, beginning with Joshua Bryant; and displays about the Fire Dept. through the years. Police officers and firefighters will greet visitors. 

Museum building is wheelchair-accessible, except the 2nd floor, which can be seen by a video shown on the 1st floor.

Park in the Police Dept. lot (behind museum) or the nearby municipal lot.

Cranford — William Miller Sperry Observatory

Union College, 1033 Springfield Ave., Cranford


• Tours of Sperry Observatory will be led by members of Amateur Astronomy Inc., followed by Q&A sessions — two of the largest telescopes in the eastern United States are located here

• Observatory domes will be open, weather permitting, however telescopes are not used during daylight

• Pick up astronomy and science-related books, magazines and posters — gently used and donated for this event

Observatory classroom is wheelchair-accessible.

Sperry Observatory is located towards the back of the Union College campus, between Springfield Ave. and Gallows Hill Rd. Ample parking is available in the large lots on the college campus, including spaces near the Observatory.

Elizabeth — Boxwood Hall State Historic Site

1073 E. Jersey St., Elizabeth


• Guided tours of this 18th-century residence describe the events and people connected with this site, including George Washington — who dined here on the day he was inaugurated as our first President

• Exhibit about local history

First floor is wheelchair-accessible via the back entrance.

Parking lot behind building (via driveway between Boxwood Hall and Efficiency Inn).

Elizabeth — Elizabeth Public Library

11 S Broad St., Elizabeth


Open Saturday only

Closed Sunday

• Historic Elizabethtown Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Library’s Local History & Special Collections Dept. — pick up the Scavenger Hunt map/brochure on site; for more information, contact the Dept. at 908-354-6060 x7220, or email

• Navesink String Quartet performance at 2 pm (indoors)

Library building and restrooms are fully ADA-compliant. For the Scavenger Hunt, see the brochure to contact sites before visiting to inquire about accessibility.

Free parking on site while using the Library only. For the Scavenger Hunt, use either Bollwage Parking Garage at 37 Caldwell Place or Jefferson Ave. Parking Garage at 28-56 Jefferson Ave. (at corner of Dickinson).

Elizabeth — Nathaniel Bonnell Homestead & Belcher-Ogden Mansion

1046 East Jersey St., Elizabeth


• Exterior tour about “the corner that history made”

• Picnic tables available for litter-free carry-in lunch in Belcher-Ogden back yard

Building is wheelchair accessible.

Parking lot on site.

Elizabeth — Siloam Hope First Presbyterian Church & Snyder Academy

42 Broad St., Elizabeth


• Guided tours of First Presbyterian Church, the oldest English-speaking congregation in New Jersey (currently Siloam Hope First Presbyterian Church) and Snyder Academy, where Alexander Hamilton once attended school

• Self-guided tour of the restored Revolutionary-era cemetery and burial grounds, where 313+ free and enslaved African people are buried in unmarked graves

• History presentation

• Children’s games from the Revolutionary War period

• Arts and crafts for children and adults

• Historical museum at Snyder Academy features Revolutionary War artifacts, tours and audio-visual presentations about the history of this site

Church building is wheelchair-accessible via ramp at the entrance. Snyder Academy is wheelchair-accessible by elevator located on the Caldwell Ave. side (north side) of the building.

Convenient parking available at the parking garage on Caldwell Place, across from Snyder Academy. 

Fanwood — Historic Fanwood Train Station Museum

230 North Ave., Fanwood


• Museum features local history, with a focus on rail service, set in the historic Fanwood Train Station building

Hillside — Evergreen Cemetery

1137 North Broad St., Hillside 


• Pick up a tour booklet at Woodruff House for a self-guided tour of this historic cemetery, replete with many elaborate funerary monuments

Hillside — Woodruff House, Eaton Store Museum & Phil Rizzuto All Sports Exhibit

111 Conant St., Hillside


Saturday: open 10 am – 5 pm

Sunday: open 12 – 4 pm

• Tours of Woodruff House (dating to 1735) and Eaton Store (dating to 1900) and their period furnishings:

• In homage to the Woodruff apple orchards, Mini Apple Festival includes the sale of fresh apples, cider, apple turnovers, apple-cider donuts and hot dogs

• Early 1900s antique car on display

• Visit the barn to see the Phil Rizzuto All Sports Exhibit of memorabilia from local baseball legend Phil Rizzuto

• Pick up a brochure with map to take a self-guided tour of nearby historic Evergreen Cemetery

Street parking available.

Kenilworth — Oswald J. Nitschke House

49 South 21 St., Kenilworth


• Guided tours of this circa-1880 authentically furnished home and its “teaching” gardens of heirloom flowers, vegetables and herbs

• Multicultural garden-to-table demonstration

• Textile crafting demonstration

• Interactive “living history” program portrays the everyday life of a late 19th-/early 20th-century immigrant in a developing suburb

• New exhibit: “New Orange/Kenilworth — A Melting Pot of Many Cultures”

• Light refreshments

Grounds and building are wheelchair-accessible; elevator on site.

Free parking in front of building, on the street and in municipal lot across the street.

Mountainside — Deacon Andrew Hetfield House

Constitution Plaza, Watchung Ave., Mountainside


• Tours of this house, which dates to circa 1760 and was expanded and altered over the years

• Special exhibits

• John Sileo of the Tri-State Historical Education Simulations will discuss a Revolutionary War battle that was fought nearby, with discussion augmented by a miniature diorama showing the battle’s actions with hundreds of hand-painted soldiers

• Browse and shop at the restored Levi Cory House (circa 1818) next door

Main house is not wheelchair-accessible.

Parking lot on site.

New Providence — Salt Box Museum

1350 Springfield Ave., New Providence


Saturday & Sunday:

• 19th-century tools exhibited outside include a restored hay wagon, laundry implements including a hand-crank ringer, foot-powered tool-sharpening wheel, and ice plow

• Tour the interior of this restored house, furnished to represent a typical mid-1800s New Jersey farmhouse, and displaying fascinating artifacts — some dating to before the American Revolution

Saturday only:

Guided Cemetery Tour (free) at New Providence Presbyterian Church, across from Salt Box at 1307 Springfield Ave., departing 1 pm and 2 pm (registration required): Learn the history of this cemetery and visit the graves of founding families and Revolutionary War soldiers on this guided 45-minute tour. Limit 20 per tour. To register and request confirmation, email, with name, preferred time and number of people. Meet 10 minutes before start time on the sidewalk by church parking lot. Sturdy shoes recommended, due to uneven ground.

Explore the Mason Room Archives of New Providence Historical Society: View local maps, photos, newspapers, personal journals and records in the Mason Room, located at the rear of New Providence Memorial Library, 377 Elkwood Ave., New Providence.

Park on the street for Salt Box; in church lot for Presbyterian Church cemetery tour; or in the Library lot for visiting the Mason Room.

Plainfield — Drake House Museum & Historical Society of Plainfield

602 West Front St., Plainfield


• Interior tours on rotating basis (limit 4 people per tour)

• Drake House Film Festival: a series of short videos shown on an ongoing basis (weather permitting, videos may be shown outdoors); subjects include artifacts, dance, and history; some feature drone footage.

• Information about the search for the Blue Hills Militia Post

Masks required indoors and will be available on site.

Grounds and 1st floor of building are wheelchair-accessible.

Parking lot on site; enter lot at traffic light.

Saturday only: 11 am – 3 pm

Two exhibits on view nearby at Plainfield Public Library, 800 Park Ave.:

• “A Photographic Journey through Union County History,” photographs by Nancy Ori, on view in the Anne Louise Davis Room

• “Beef, Iron and Wine: Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century Pharmacy & Medicine in Plainfield,” an exhibit of bottles from the Historical Society of Plainfield’s collection, on view in the main lobby

Plainfield — duCret School of Art

1030 Central Ave., Plainfield


Open Saturday only

Closed Sunday

• Tours of this 1896 building, formerly the George Strong residence

• Exhibit of artworks from the school’s permanent collection

Parking lot on site.

Plainfield — Plainfield Quaker Meeting House

225 Watchung Ave., Plainfield


Open Saturday only

Closed Sunday

• Tour this historic meetinghouse, built in 1788

Building is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible parking spaces on site.

Park in lot on site or on street (meetinghouse is across from Plainfield train station).

Rahway –– African American History & Heritage Learning Center

261 Central Ave., Rahway


Open Saturday only

Closed Sunday

• Guided tours of this site, formerly an 1800s one-room schoolhouse

• Interactive programs for children and parents/guardians

• Pop-up bookstore

• Performances and art exhibitions related to the city of Rahway, African-American culture and the world

• Storytelling and oral histories

• Community reading event

• Food trucks

• Free giveaways

Park in the church lot at 253 Central Ave. or on local streets nearby.

Rahway — Merchants & Drovers Tavern Museum

1632 St. George Ave., Rahway (corner of Westfield Ave.)


• Tours of this museum and restored historic building — once a tavern and stagecoach stop

• Demonstration of authentic hearth cooking

• Tours of historic Rahway Cemetery, burial site of Abraham Clark, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and of Ambo, an enslaved woman

Museum building and bathroom are wheelchair-accessible.

Parking available on grounds.

Rahway — Union County Performing Arts Center

1601 Irving St., Rahway


• Take a guided tour of this 1928 venue led by movie/theater historian and author Irv Hyatt, to include: the history of this restored theater; back stage; demonstration of the historic Wurlitzer organ with its sound effects and various connected instruments (such as drums, cymbals, xylophone); and a Projectionist with 40 years’ experience will explain the projection and movie system

Building is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible parking spaces at rear of building.

Parking available on street or behind the theatre. Or use spacious parking lot nearby at Hamilton Theater on Hamilton St.

Roselle — Abraham Clark House

101 W. 9th Ave., Roselle


• Exhibits and artifacts focus on the life of Abraham Clark and the history of Roselle

Ample street parking available.

Roselle Park — Roselle Park Historical Society & Museum

9 W. Grant Ave., Roselle Park

• Exhibit exploring the history of Roselle Park — the founding families, mayors and Borough Councils through the years; with timelines about the railroads that helped develop this borough

Ground-level building entrance is wheelchair-accessible (no steps).

Free street parking available nearby, and metered parking across the street.

Scotch Plains — Frazee House

1451 Raritan Rd., Scotch Plains

Saturday only:

• Harvest Festival, featuring live music, food trucks, sale of pumpkins

• Children’s activities include: games, pony rides, petting zoo, pumpkin tossing and pumpkin patch

• Representatives will give external tours of the house restoration and describe this location’s significance on the Battle of Short Hills Historic Trail

• Video demonstration

Scotch Plains — Osborn Cannonball House Museum

1840 Front St., Scotch Plains

Weekends: 908-757-1885

• Tour this Colonial-era house and learn about the family who lived here during the American Revolution, and what life was like for the 13 Osborn children — two of whom fought in the war

• Feature program “The 18th-Century Child at Work & Play” — Children worked hard in the 1700s, but also found time to play. Explore the collection of hands-on 18th-century toys. Play a game of quoits and 9-pin bowling.

• Make a colonial hat, then wear it for a photo-op as you pose with colonial children cut-outs

Park in the Municipal lot behind town hall or on street.

Scotch Plains — Shady Rest Country Club

820 Jerusalem Rd., Scotch Plains


• Tours this historic site, which was the first black-owned country club in the United States (ongoing tours with presentations)

• Documentary film “A Place for Us,” about the history of the Black-owned Shady Rest and about John Shippen, the first African-American professional golfer to play in the US Open

• The John Shippen Museum

• Arts and crafts for children

• FREE mini-golf

• Mini-golf putting contest — with prizes

• Light refreshments

Saturday only:

• Presentation about the history of horses and horseback-riding at The Shady Rest — plus a horse on site, and horseback-riding opportunities from 2 to 4 pm

Sunday only:

• Live jazz music performance in the Grand Ballroom by Andrew Wagner

• Thurman and Ruby Simmons will be on hand to discuss the history of John Shippen in the John Shippen Museum

Building is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible parking spaces on site.

Parking lot on site.

Springfield — Cannon Ball House/Hutchings Homestead

126 Morris Ave., Springfield


• Self-guided tour of the first floor of this Colonial home that survived the Revolutionary War, featuring 18th-century artifacts in the library, parlor, dining room and colonial kitchen

• Docents from the Springfield Historical Society will answer questions

• Exhibit features the century-old, antique wedding gown of a prominent Springfield bride

• Battle of Springfield booklets, maps and 225th Anniversary memorabilia available for sale.

Saturday only:

• Members of the Brigade of the Revolution will tell stories of life as a colonial-era soldier in the days leading to the 1780 Battle of Springfield during the Revolutionary War

Entrance via rear door is just one step up, but building is not wheelchair-accessible by ramp.

Limited on-site parking; enter building via rear door.

Summit — Carter House

90 Butler Parkway, Summit

908-277-1747  or

• Informal tours of the circa-1741 Carter House

• Museum offers something for history lovers of all ages: period furniture and decorative items; a painting by the Hudson River School’s Worthington Whittredge; Colonia-era kitchen complete with hearth; a Franklin stove; and a library of local history

• Archives include photos, building histories, genealogy records, thousands of local obituaries, maps, postcards and more

• Retail shop offers handmade items and gifts with local themes

• Garage houses an antique fire truck and serves as a mini museum for the Summit Fire Dept.

Research room and entire archives are wheelchair-accessible via ramp from gravel parking lot; remainder of the museum is one step up.

Ample free parking on the street, or park in the gravel lot on site.

Summit — Reeves-Reed Arboretum

165 Hobart Ave., Summit


Saturday only: open 10 am — 4 pm

Closed Sunday

• Historic public garden, education resource center, and living history museum featuring Wisner House and other outbuildings on 13.5 acres of pastoral lawns, woodland trails, a glacial bowl and historic gardens

• Free guided horticulture and history tours depart at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm from the Visitor’s Center

• History exhibit featuring photographs and artifacts from the Wisner, Reeves and Reed families

• Buildings include galleries, classroom/workshop space in the historic carriage house, and a library housing a collection of historic documents, photos and books

• Beacon Signal Fire #10, a replica of the original Revolutionary War beacon, was recently installed

• Explore the Wildflower Trail, and learn about the history of the historic daffodils here

Buildings are wheelchair-accessible. Gardens and grounds are wheelchair-accessible in some areas. Map and Guide available at Visitors Center provides details.

Park on site, across the street or in surrounding residential area (observe parking regulations).

Summit — Twin Maples

214 Springfield Ave., Summit


• Guided tours of this grand Colonial Revival estate built in 1908, with a facade resembling the White House, a lavish entry hall, a ballroom, and a ladies’ secret bath tucked beneath the staircase

Parking lot on site.

Summit — Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church

138-142 Broad St., Summit

• Tour of the church buildings and grounds, focusing on Rev. Dr. Florence S. Randolph, the activist and spiritual leader who advocated for justice, equality and equity, civil rights, and women’s suffrage

Building is wheelchair accessible.

Parking lot at rear of church. Street parking also available.

Union Township — Caldwell Parsonage

909 Caldwell Ave,. Union

908-687-7977 or

• Tours of this historic parsonage site led by student docents from Union schools

• Appearance by Rev. James Caldwell, portrayed by Meridoc Burkhardt

• New exhibit: “Hannah’s At-home Dress,” created by Gail Alterman, Costume consultant, Assistant to the FIT Textile Conservator

• New exhibit: “Local Heroes of the Revolution” created by Michael Yesenko, historian and author

• Family/children’s activities include: create a tricorn hat and/or a colonial-style bonnet; make “church” dolls; play colonial and native-American games

• Shop the vintage book sale

Building is wheelchair accessible. On-street parking and municipal lot one block away.

Union Township — Connecticut Farms Church  

888 Stuyvesant Ave., Union


• Visit this historic church and its cemetery — congregation dates to 1730, and the original church building was burned down by the British in 1780

Union Township — Liberty Hall

1003 Morris Ave., Union


• Tour the historic Firehouse Museum, with Union Township Fire Dept. on hand

• Children’s activities

• Visitor Center offers a gift shop

The main house will not be open, due to a special event.

Visitor Center and Firehouse Museum are fully wheelchair-accessible.

On-site parking available.

Union Township — Congressman Donald M. Payne Vauxhall Meeting Center

333 Russell St., Vauxhall (Union)


• Displays and historical information highlight the Vauxhall section of the Township of Union; presented by the Vauxhall Historical Society

Building is wheelchair accessible and fully ADA-compliant.

Parking lot is across the street from Jefferson School, which also has a parking lot.

Westfield — Miller-Cory House Museum

614 Mountain Ave., Westfield


• Informal docent-led tours of this fully furnished circa-1740 farmhouse

• Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this site will showcase 18th-century cuisine with a demonstration of authentic colonial-era open-hearth cooking, using period recipes and techniques

• Herb and kitchen gardens

Park in lot or on surrounding side-streets.

Westfield — Reeve History & Cultural Resource Center

314 Mountain Ave., Westfield


• Tour this meticulously decorated and maintained circa-1875 Italianate Victorian-era residence

• Special exhibit about the Westfield origins of Children’s Specialized Hospital

• Self-guided walking tour of the grounds includes gardens, an arboretum, and a “fairy house” hunt

Saturday only:

• Annual Westfield Historical Society AppleFest celebration held outdoors, with music and children’s games

Many activities are outdoors and wheelchair-accessible, however the building interior is not wheelchair-accessible. Interior can be seen online via a virtual tour.

Street parking available.

Four Centuries in a Weekend is funded in part by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.

For more details, including updates and late-breaking schedule changes, visit or contact the individual site.

The Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs is a division of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation. For information about all Cultural and Heritage programs, including grant opportunities, visit

For information about all programs and activities in Union County parks, visit or call 908-527-4900.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at

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For all Union County programs and services visit, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email or use the online Contact Form.

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