MV Obsession

My obsession with Martha's Vineyard.. phototography..genealogy and life in general and this and that…


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Newark, New Jersey Adventures…

Newark, New Jersey is where I was born and grew up.  As you can tell by the clock it’s a timeless city 🙂 Last week my daughter Deb, our cousin Kris, our friend Dawn and I went off on our adventure

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Our family, the Freeman’s go back to the original founding fathers of Newark.  My 8th times great grandfather (not sure of the number), Stephen Freeman, along with Robert Treat and a host of other men from Milford and Branford, Ct founded the city of Newark in 1666.  It has just celebrated its 350 birthday in 2016.  I am the last of our particular Freeman line to be born in Newark as was my father, my grandfather etc.

The monument to the founding fathers fell into disrepair and actually disappeared for many years.

(The 9-foot-tall monument, which weighs 13,000 pounds, was lying on its back underneath a tattered blue tarp in a city lot at the city’s Division of Traffic and Signals. Without further inspection, you’d think it was discarded junk.The marble base was detached. The wooden pallet that held the monument was in standing water between a trash bin and a gaggle of inoperable traffic lights.Not exactly what Newark’s stakeholders had in mind when they gave it to the city in 1916 to celebrate its 250th anniversary.) You can read more of that article by CLICKING HERE…

Thankfully it was restored and put in its new location in 2016 for Newark’s 350th anniversary.

There is also another founding fathers statue which is located in Fairmont Cemetery.  Just so happens many of our ancestors are buried there but that will be in another blog post.

My daughter Deb, myself, our cousin Kristan.

We headed to the Court House to see the ‘Seated LIncoln’ statue of Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Gutzon Borglum who was the creator of the Mount Rushmore sculpture of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.  CLICK HERE to read about the Seated Lincoln statue in Newark.

The main reason I wanted to visit this sculpture was to try and recreate a picture my mother and grandmother had taken in the 1920’s.

My grandmother and mother                      Me with daughter Deb.

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Surprising to many who don’t know much about the city of Newark, it has some beautiful parks in it.  Washington Park, Lincoln Park and the newly revitalized Military Park.  CLICK HERE PLEASE…

Military Park

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The newly revitalized park reopened in June 2014.  There are outdoor tables, walking paths, statue of John F Kennedy, ping-pong tables, nice umbrellas which my group utilized to get out of the 87 degree heat the day we were there, and the Liberty Pole.

*From Wikipedia —  Military Park is a 6-acre city park in downtown Newark, New Jersey.  From 1667, when the city was planned, until 1869 it was a training ground for soldiers.  In 1869 it became the town commons.*

The most impressive thing in Military Park is the ‘Wars Of America’ sculpture by Gutzon Borglum (who also sculpted the above mentioned statue of Lincoln).

*From NJ.com -The bronze masterpiece consists of forty-two human beings and two horses and commemorates America’s participation in the Revolution, War of 1812; Indian Wars; Mexican War, the Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I.

It is in Military Park, which dates back to 1667–when the park was a training ground for soldiers and, later, a drill field for the Colonial and Continental armies–where the colossal Wars of America statue stands in striking relief. It is the centerpiece of the park.

CLICK HERE to read about this beautiful sculpture…

Thus ends my latest trip back to Newark.  Since we’ve been delving into our family ancestry and our connection to the city I come from we’ve been back to Newark more times in the past two years than I had been in the last maybe 30 years.  I have a feeling we’re not done yet 🙂


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The Magic of Movies…

Because today, February 26 is Oscar night I thought I’d post about my movie memories of Martha’s Vineyard.

Movies have been a big part of Island entertainment since the early 1900′s.

The Island Theatre (Eagle Theatre) circa 1910.In 1927 the Island Theatre in Oak Bluffs was showing the talkie ‘Wings’ starring the ‘It girl’, Clara Bow.  The price of admission was 50 cents on a Saturday night, 30 cents if you sat in the balcony.

At one time there were as many as 8 theatres down-Island… of those only the Island, The Strand and The Capawock remain.

Unfortunately the Island theatre  has been condemned and is likely to be demolished.  Sad to see a place of so many memories fading away… or as they say in the movie busines ‘fade to black.’

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The Strand (2009) – Oak Bluffs has been refurbished and had a grand re-opening a couple of years ago. (CLICK HERE to read Vineyard Gazette article).

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The Capawock (1996) – Vineyard Haven has also been refurbished and re-opened in May 2015.  (CLICK HERE to read Vineyard Gazette article).

For me, as a summer kid on the Vineyard in the 1950′s, a night at the movies was a very big deal. The movies I remember the clearest are the musicals, like “Summer Stock” with Judy Garland, and “Showboat” with Howard Keel.

But before even getting to the theatre there was a stop at …

…Darling’s on Circuit Ave for popcorn. A bag would be fine for an afternoon treat but for going to the movies the choice was always a popcorn bar in such flavors as chocolate, strawberry,vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch.

After the ‘show’ a stop at the Frosty Cottage on Circuit Ave for a pistachio ice cream cone finished off the evening.

Many nights on the way home I morphed into a singing, dancing movie star…at least in my head 🙂

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The Newark Museum…

The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey

Recently I visited the Newark Museum, a place I hadn’t been to since I was in high school  many years ago.

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This beautiful work of art is covered with sequins…

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Let’s wander..

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I have no idea what these are but I liked them 🙂

Moving on…

According to Wikipedia: The John Ballantine House was the home of Jeannette Boyd (1838–1919) and John Holme Ballantine (1834–1895). John was the son of Peter Ballantine, founder of the Ballantine beer brewery. The house was built in 1885 at 49 Washington Street in the Washington Park section of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. It is now part of the Newark Museum and is open to the public for tours.

Also part of the Newark Museum is the Newark Fire Museum

This is only a little bit of what the beautiful and amazing Newark Museum has to offer.

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Newport, RI continued …

Believe it or not, no more mansions 🙂  just a little of this and a little of that.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame.

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Portuguese Discovery monument

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Sunset at Breton Point

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And this and that…

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This concludes my posts about the trip to Newport, RI … I think 🙂

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newport, RI – Part 4 – Kingscote…

Kingscote, our final mansion.

George Noble Jones, a southern plantation owner constructed this Gothic Revival style summer cottage in 1839 along a farm path known as Bellevue Avenue. Designed by Richard Upjohn, the house is an early example of the picturesque Gothic Revival style, with its irregular and busy roofline. Kingscote was one of the first summer “cottages” constructed in Newport. It was owned by the King family from 1863 until 1972, when it was given to the Preservation Society of Newport County.

According to the Preservation Society of Newport County: Today, Kingscote is a rare example of a Gothic Revival house and landscape setting preserved intact with original family collections.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed our mansion tours, we had a lot of fun.

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(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)

http://www.newportmansions.org/explore/kingscote

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingscote_%28mansion%29


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Newport, RI – Part 3 – The Elms…

 

The Elms…

The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d’Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris.

deb - The Elms

pizap.com14637846840792The original Elms circa 1897.

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I think the Elms might be my favorite…I mean they’re all beautiful in their over the top ornate way but somehow the Elms seems to be more cozy if that’s possible. Or perhaps it’s the fact that this piece of history came within weeks of being torn down !

The Elms was the summer residence of Edward and Sarah Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. In 1922 Mrs. Berwind died, and Edward asked his youngest sister Julia Berwind to move in and become the hostess of The Elms. In 1936 when he died he willed the house to Julia who lived there until she died in 1961.

This according to Wikipedia: Childless, Julia Berwind willed the estate to a nephew, who did not want it and fruitlessly tried to pass The Elms to someone else in the family. Finally the family auctioned off the contents of the estate and sold the property to a developer who wanted to tear it down. In 1962, just weeks before its date with the wrecking ball, The Elms was purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County for $116,000.  Since then, the house has been open to the public for tours. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996.

Let’s take a look around the house and gardens before heading off to my favorite part of the tour !!!

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The conservatory… I could spend all my time in here…

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The back lawn and gardens…

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Julia A Berwind, sister of Edward Berwind.

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According to Wikipedia: Edward asked his youngest sister Julia A. Berwind to move in and become the hostess of The Elms after his wife died. In 1936, when he died, he willed the house to Julia, who  was well known in Newport. She would invite children from the nearby Fifth Ward (a working-class immigrant neighborhood) to the estate for milk and cookies. She had a love for cars and would drive around Newport every day in one of her luxury cars. This was somewhat shocking to the rest of Newport society where it was considered “unladylike” for women to drive themselves.

Now let’s get around to my favorite part …  the Servant Life Tour.  It’s 82 steps up to the 3td  floor. A balustrade around the roof of the mansion hides the entire dormitory-style third floor where single female and male servants lived in 16 rooms with 3 bathrooms. Married staff lived offsite. The back staircase kept the staff very much behind the scenes as they went about their duties,

pizap.com14639572316861There was also access to the roof and a beautiful view of Newport..

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From there we headed back down the 82 steps to the basement to view the coal-fired furnaces and the tunnel from which the coal is brought into the basement from a nearby street, there’s a little coal in the corner to give you an idea of how massive this coal storage area was. Seen here is also the laundry room and kitchen.

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That concludes the tour of the three mansions we visited.  But that’s not all so stay tuned for more.   In the meantime let your imagination take you away to a midnight stroll in the garden… happy dreaming.

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New Port Preservation Society, The Elms CLICK HERE

Wikipedia The Elms CLICK HERE

Servants Life Tour CLICK HERE

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newport, RI – Part 2 – The Breakers…

The Breakers – if you only have time to see one mansion/summer cottage, this the THE one to visit.

From wikipedia: ” The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. The Breakers was built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The Breakers is the architectural and social archetype of the ‘Gilded Age’ a period when members of the Vanderbilt family were among the major industrialists of America. Vanderbilt was the President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, and was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The Commodore made the family fortune in the steamship and railroad industries.In 1895, the year of its completion, The Breakers was the largest, most opulent house in the Newport area.”

CLICK HERE to read more….

This was the original Breakers which was destroyed by fire in 1892.  A modest summer cottage…

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Vanderbilt commissioned famed architect Richard Morris Hunt to rebuild it and  insisted that the building be made as fireproof as possible and as such, the structure of the building used steel trusses and no wooden parts.

And this is the Breakers in 1895… somewhat different from the original, wouldn’t you say.

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Great hall …

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Around the ‘cottage’… 2 sitting rooms – music room – library – bathroom – dining room.

In the library the fireplace, taken from a 16th-century French chateau  bears the inscription “I laugh at great wealth, and never miss it; nothing but wisdom matters in the end.”

mosaic2d3c178bc4b28b48496f16dc95b9f9c94d6d87e4Back of grand staircase – ceiling – gilded door – portrait – platinum wall paper – chandelier.

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‘The kitchen, unlike others in the time period, was situated on the first floor away from the main house to prevent the possibility of fires and cooking smells reaching the main parts of the house.’ You can understand why after the original Breakers burned down that they’d want the kitchen further away. This kitchen is gorgeous, it could even tempt me to whip up a cake or something.  Maybe.

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The grounds … you never know what you might see out there 🙂

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The Breakers is amazing… not just in its beauty and opulence but in the thought and foresight that went into building it.

Just a few more pictures, really, just a few 🙂

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If you haven’t been to the Breakers I hope you get to go.  In the mean time CLICK HERE for the Breakers and HERE to find out more about Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Coming next … what mansion came within weeks of being torn down !!

(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)


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Newark, New Jersey (Banks)…

The above pictures (thanks to Google) are of The Howard Savings Institution bank in Newark, New Jersey. I’m guessing that these pictures are from the early 1900’s !   The Howard Savings Institution received its charter in 1857 and met its demise in Oct 1992.  (That’s a whole other post).   I worked at the Howard in the mortgage department from Feb 1960 until Feb 1964.

Last weekend I was in Newark and I took the following pictures of what this once beautiful and stately bank building looks like now… it’s very sad.

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IMG_2292The columns are gone and the Howard Savings Institution is gone from the front of the building but look closely along the top… the lion heads of different colors remain !

The next time I go back to Newark I think I’ll go inside the store that’s there now and see if any remnants of the inside of the bank remain ! I think not though.
IMG_2290Wandering a little further down Broad Street we come to the National Newark & Essex bank building which is where my mother worked.

      The following information was taken from an article on Google – “The beginning of the rebirth of the 744 Building, now referred to as the “National Newark Building” began in November 1997 when the Helmsley estate sold the 744 Broad Street building to Cogswell Realty Group, which announced that it would restore and reconstitute the building to its former glory.

The end result was a $55 million total renovation of the building and the integration of 21st century technologies that converted the building into an ideal and inviting modern office environment.

Among the new improvements were 1,500 new openable thermal windows, 15 high speed elevators, removal of the escalators, and the lobby given a complete facelift with restored 25 feet high plaster ceilings and grand chandeliers.

The classical style facade in the lobby was scrubbed and repainted and the art deco interior and giant mezzanine level murals restored.”

The restored building slowly has been regaining its earlier popularity and has been referred to as the “crown jewel of Newark’s renaissance.”

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IMG_2288The details on this building are incredible… look at the door handles on the front entrance…

IMG_2293 The article that I cited before also mentioned..”Among the new improvements were 1,500 new openable thermal windows, 15 high speed elevators, removal of the escalators, and the lobby given a complete facelift with restored 25 feet high plaster ceilings and grand chandeliers”.

I remember those chandeliers from my childhood when I used to visit the bank with my mother.

IMG_2285I am hoping during my next trip to Newark that I can go inside the bank which was closed the Saturday I was there… and see if I can step back in time.

I’m also looking forward to doing future posts about more of the rebirth of my home town, Newark, New Jersey


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Vineyard Februaries …

I’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard in February and I love it.  I love it any time but February is as different from summer on the Vineyard as you can possibly get.

There’s a  cold crispness in the air, the colors are more vivid, the Island is quiet and yet speaks volumes to those who take the time to look, listen and drink in the beauty and wonder that is the soul of Martha’s Vineyard.

February 1989…  a light dusting of snow made everything look like powdered sugar had fallen all over the Island.

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February 1995…  no snow that trip but bitter cold.  Did not stop me from visiting the Gay Head cliffs in Aquinnah on the western most tip of the Vineyard… or hiking through the woods of Christiantown to visit the tiny chapel there.

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I also  experimented a bit with black and white film. From top left… Edgartown harbor, Christiantown stone wall..Sengekontacket Pond and South Beach.

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February 2007… bitter cold, dusting of over night snow, icy ponds and harbors… and brilliant sunsets.

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My birthday is in February and sadly the only one I’ve ever spent on the Vineyard was in 1950 when my beloved godmother, Gertrude Norris passed away.  But I’m not anywhere near done having birthdays so who knows what the future will bring 🙂


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NYC Matinee Day …

My daughter Deb, our friend Dawn and I went to NYC last Saturday to see…tah dah… the funniest, most hysterical musical comedy I think I’ve ever seen… and despite the title… it was not rotten 🙂  Come along and join us on our matinee day in the city.

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After getting coffee we headed to Times Square…

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You can always count on seeing a lot of characters roaming Times Sq, for example take a look at the characters in the last picture, crazy looking bunch 🙂

You might even see a proposal taking place, although I wonder if the one we saw was a real one or staged since there was a camera crew there !  At any rate it picture worthy.

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 Next up was lunch.. Junior’s Restaurant & Bar was our choice and it was a good one… we all chose sandwiches which were huge and delicious, the side dishes of pickles and also beets were great…but the icing on the cake, or in this case the blueberries on the cheesecake was oh so good… one piece shared 3 ways was perfect.pizap.com14531643690312

and now the main event…  I present …’Something Rotten’..

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Inside before the magic, and the laughter began…

IMG_2035And of course way too soon the laughter, the music, and the magic ended and it was out into the cold evening with memories of a fantastic, not rotten, matinee day in the city 🙂

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