Intrigued by some of buildings in the current exhibit by Wolf Kretlow, I did some research into their history.
In 1874, the Central Railroad of NJ embarked on a program of track repair and rebuilding. In the process, the railroad relocated the track west of Westfield to its present route. A new Victorian Gothic station was built and the commuter stop was named Fanwood. The structure is now the Fanwood Railroad Station Museum and is operated by the borough of Fanwood’s Historic Preservation committee.
In the late 1700’s, Hillside was home to two large settlements, Lyon’s Farms on the north side and Woodruff’s Farms on the south. The area settled by the Woodruff family became known as Saybrook by the late 19th century. The Woodruff House/Eaton Store provides a look at an 18th century farmhouse and an early 20th century neighborhood store.
Located in the township of Union, the current structure was erected after June 8, 1780 when the retreating British and Hessian troops pillaged and ransacked the town, shot Rev. Caldwell’s wife at the Parsonage, and burned most of the buildings, including the original church. In 1970, the church and cemetery were designated as an historic site – the first in New Jersey to be listed in the Register of Historic Places.
Before there was the current day city of Elizabeth, there was Elizabethtown. Founded in 1664, it had the distinction of being New Jersey’s first English settlement and the first seat of colonial government. The settlement was developed by the Elizabethtown Associates, a group who purchased a large tract of land that include all of what is now known as Union and Essex Counties. In 1857, the state legislature created NJ’s last county when it declared Union County an entity separate from Essex County, with the now city of Elizabeth named as its county seat. The city has a great architectural heritage, with many buildings dating from pre Revolutionary era, to Victorian Gothic structures, a beautiful train station (the railroad line no longer operational) and many churches of different styles and eras.
Originally a “vaudeville palace” then a movie theatre, the Rahway Theatre is now at the centerpiece of the downtown arts area. Great acts like Kenny Rogers have performed there. A recent restoration brought it back to its original Victorian grandeur. The theater is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places and is now operating as a multi-purpose venue for the performing arts. For a delightful history of the “Old Rahway Theater” visit the Union County Performing Arts Center website
Liberty Hall Museum, Union
This complex of buildings is the most significant 18th century residence in the township of Union. Built in 1772 it was the home of William Livingston, the first elected governor of NJ. He served from the outset of the Revolution until 1790. Liberty Hall Museum is in partnership with Kean University to facilitate development of a landmark on-site educational center devoted to early American History. For an extensive history, visit Wikipidia’s website
Many thanks goes to Union County’s booklet “In and About Union County” for the information in this blog.