Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas at the Knights Collings House

Yesterday, two friends and I had dinner in Collingswood and then went to the Knights Collings House for Christmas Stories. I'm always looking for interesting ways to get people to visit historic houses and this is an excellent one.
The Collings house was built in 1824 by Edward Zane Collings, a descendant of one of the original settlers in the Newton Colony in the late 1600's.
Collings built the house for his widowed sister. His builder was John Ireland - a name I've seen in various inteeresting places such as the Ireland Smith cemetery in the woods at Estelle.
The house remained in the family to the middle of the 20th century when the newest owner Charles Chase, bequeathed it to the borough.
So gratifying when someone understands the need for preserving history and puts that good goal above personal profit.
Anyhow, at the house, a group of visitors sst in each room as members of a theater group read and told the classic Christmas stories and poems. It was heart warming and a wonderful way to visit and view an old house.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Allaire Village

Six State Parks down and 49 to go! Yesterday, Friday Dec. 16, a friend and I drove to Allaire Village. Fortunately, the Parks Dept. there had more of the little Passports to Adventure booklets because a couple of other friends are now interested in collecting the stamps and visiting the parks. The booklets, at their best and most likely intended purpose, are an inspiration for places to go. When I have a feeling in a morning that I want to make an expedition somewhere, I look in the passport and find another place to visit. Then, I google it for directions and off we go. There are half a dozen friends of mine who have been visiting the parks now and everyone is getting more interested. If you want to give it a try, you'd better hurry, however, as most places are running out of the books and they are not being reprinted by the state!
Allaire Village is the restored Howell Iron Works Company. If you are interested in these early towns such as Batsto and Smithville, you'll enjoy Allaire. Aside from the interesting community aspect of these 19th century industrial villages, how people lived and worked in the 1800's, the founders are a fascinating breed.
Earlier, on a visit to Smithville, I mentioned a book written by Wm. Bolger on that town. It was obtainable off the internet, 2nd hand at amazon.com and it is a fascinating read. These early tycoons participated in the major developments of our nation from the Revolution through the Civil War war to the development of rail transportation.
It was the wish of the final owner of Allaire, Arthur Brisbane, newpaperman, that the village be conserved and made into a historical park which his wife saw to after his death.
The village was mostly closed on Friday. In winter, the buildings aren't open during the week but they are on the weekends. The general store was open however, with many charming items for those of you who are struggling to finish Christmas shopping and would like to combine a hike, a park visit and gift buying. I left my purse in the car, fortunately.
I love the parks in winter. You can really see the buildings in all their splendor under the blue winter sky.
I'm very interested in the lives of the workers and haven't found much on that subject yet. I've been buying books on mantua makers and seamstresses and would be interested if anyone knows of any books about the men who worked in the iron industry, the workers. A nice book I read yesterday evening was by William E. Garwood on the life of a rural farm boy in Salem County, also obtained secone hand off the internet.
As any of you who've read my blogs on my family history may be aware, Garwood is an old family name on my mother's side, they came from England in the early 1700's and migrated down through Burlington into Gloucester County
where William C. Garwood was a teacher in the Turner School and a minor official in a few local civil departments. The first William C. Garwood married Rachel Ann Cheesman, only surviviing daughter of Major Peter T. Cheesman, a mill owner along the Big Timber Creek and veteran of the War of 1812. The 2nd William C. Garwood, his grandson was in the Merchant Marines. Apparently the Garwoods continued their southward migration down to the Salem area, but I haven't finished sorting out which ones are related to me yet.
Enjoy your Christmans history tours and if you are looking for an interesting thing to do in a historic house, check out the Knight's-Collings House in Collingswood where each weekend, Christmas stories will be told in various rooms of the house. I'll be going tomorrow early evening, Sunday 17th. Call ahead to check on times and tickets 1-800-838-3006.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year fellow History Buffs

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The weekend of the 9th and 10th of December is packed with wonderful holiday events in the history community. It's hard to choose from among the many invitaions. On Thursday evening, the 8th, I worked with the other volunteers greeting visitors and giving tours at the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield. On Saturday, Loretta Kelly (chief preservationist workin on White Hill in Fieldsboro) and I went to Mount Holly for the re-enactment of the Iron Works Hill battle. We had lunch in the Robin's Nest, delicious always, and visited many quaint stores including the one that specializes in music. While in that store, we were invited to join the owner for birthday cake!
At Jersey Made, across the street we talked with John Nagy, whose new book SPIES is out. He was signing them for purchasers. I have two other books he has written, Rebellion in the Ranks and Invisible Ink, both excellent.
On Sunday, another friend and I went to Greenwich for their historic house tour. I was finally able to visit two places I've often passed but never was able to get inside before, the Tenant House at the end of The Great Street, and the Marine Museum, with a remarkably interesting curator.
We visited the Gibbon House, and ate home-made gingerbread cookies, then enjoyed the Santa Lucia Fest at the Presbyterian Church before driving home at sunset. My companion, Dorothy, works as a tour guide in Phila. for the Assoc. Tour Guides, among other vocations and avocations.
My tour guiding at the Indian King Tavern made it possible to add another stamp to my Passport to Adventure booklet.
More later! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Roundtable and Batsto Christmas 2011

Today, a friend of mine who does tour guiding in Philly for the Assoc. Tour Guides of Philly, and I drove through the pines to go to the Victorian Christmas at Batsto Village. I heard about the event at the Burlington County Historians Roundtable yesterday, Dec. 3, when it was held at the Cinnaminson Library. It is always informative and this month, we learned how to protect old photographs from an expert.
Getting to Batsto now is a little tricky since the bridge is still out and we got lost in the woods, circling Green Bank at least twice before helpful locals got us on the right path, but too late for the tour. I had taken the program and tour last year, so I wasn't as disappointed as my friend who hadn't been for years, but she was happy when we went to the post office in Batsto village and she was able to send her daughter a letter with the history of the post office and it's unique hand-cancellation.
We did go to the General Store exhibition in the main room beside the post office and it was delightful. Linda Stanton had arranged it and she was there and was able to point out the order of the displays for us, the raw materials for the foods provided in the pinelands such as cranberries and blueberries. Real food was available as well, home-made cookies provided by the Batsto Citizens Committee and other history volunteers. There was never a more beautiful day for hiking in the pines and visiting the village.