Saturday, October 5, 2019 – Halloween program – 3 PM- “Historic Haunts of Central Jersey”- Gordon Thomas Ward
Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20, 2019 – Four Centuries in a Weekend TBA
Friday, December 13 – Tree Lighting TBA
WWI Poppy Seed Fundraiser
The Historical Society of Plainfield is participating in the WW1 Poppy Program created by the WW1 Centennial Commission. The WW1 Poppy program is a fundraising program that will benefit the National WW1 Memorials at Pershing Park in Washington, DC, and the Historical Society of Plainfield. Seed packets of Flanders Poppy are available for purchase at the Drake House Museum for $2 per packet as the supply lasts. The red poppy is an internationally recognized symbol of remembrance for veteran sacrifice. Each seed packet honors the legacy of the 4.7 million American veterans who served during WW1 and the 116,516 American who never made it home. Plainfield lost 45 residents during WW1. A current exhibit at the Drake House entitled, “Plainfield During WW1 and the Influenza Pandemic,” highlights the biographies of the 45 men. One former resident of Plainfield, Evarts Tracy, played a significant role during WW1 as a pioneering camouflage officer. His story is commemorated on the WW1 Centennial Commission’s website. Tracy grew up on West Eighth Street in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District, lived on Hillside Avenue in the Hillside Avenue Historic District, and was the architect for the old Plainfield Police Station, Muhlenberg Hospital, and many residences in Plainfield. Tracy is buried in Hillside Cemetery in his family’s plot. Please consider purchasing a WW1 Flanders Poppy seed packet.
Plainfield’s Hidden Black History
Sunday, February 24, 2019, at 4:00 PM. The lecture and discussion will be led by Nancy Piwowar, President of the Historical Society of Plainfield. “Plainfield’s Hidden Black History” will include photographs from the Historical Society’s archival collection, a discussion of the “1932 Survey of Negro Life in New Jersey” and the 1947 study of Plainfield.
Plainfield was a part of the “1932 Survey of Negro Life in New Jersey.” This study presented a picture of African-American life in New Jersey, and included population, housing, employment, health, and recreation statistics to name a few. The 1947 study was an experimental study that focused on Plainfield, even though Plainfield’s name was not used.
“As a life-long resident of Plainfield, it was not until recently that I have found these documents, which are giving me a new perspective on my life in Plainfield. The statistics presented in the survey and study are eye-opening, and bring a different context to past and present events,” said Nancy Piwowar.
Nancy Piwowar is a graduate of Plainfield High School, attended Jefferson School, Washington School as part of the 6th grade plan, and Hubbard Junior High School. She is a graduate of Wilson College, and a retired Postal worker. She has contributed to many local history books, including the “Encyclopedia of New Jersey,” in 2004.
Tours of the Drake House Museum will be given at 2 PM and 3 PM with the lecture to begin at 4 PM. Seating for lecture is limited and is on a first-come first-serve basis. Light refreshments will be served. Members: free and non-members: donations are always appreciated.
Plainfield’s Forgotten History - February 2, 2019
3-5 PM This is an exhibit, curated by Justin Almendral, of 15 photographs from the Historical Society of Plainfield’s archives collection. Justin is a Life Scout of Troop 73, and for his Eagle Scout project, he and his assistants purchased a photograph scanner and scanned over 300 photographs in the Society’s collection. As a culmination of his project, he selected photographs that illustrate life in Plainfield that spans 100 years from the 1870’s to the 1970’s. The photographs include: Muhlenberg Hospital, Plainfield High School, Plainfield High School Band, St. Mary’s Commercial School, railroad, trains, sports, and recreation. The Historical Society is appreciative of the efforts of Troop 73 and all the Eagle Scouts candidates who have helped us with their volunteer efforts.
Plainfield During WW1 & the Influenza Pandemic - Feb 2, 2019
3-5 PM This “new and improved” exhibit, curated by Leanne Manna, features the 45 soldiers and their Gold Star families who made the ultimate sacrifice during WW1. The Historical Society received a grant from the Gannett Foundation which enabled Leanne to design and create professional exhibit panels. These panels will be available for a travelling exhibit for other venues, and in the future will be available online at the Drake House Museum website. The Historical Society is appreciative of the funding from the Gannett Foundation and the efforts of all the volunteers.
Centennial of World War One
Photo: Ernest Brooks
From 2013 to 2019, the World War One Centennial Commission will commemorate the centennial of the Great War, also known as "the War to end all wars."
The Historical Society of Plainfield will participate in the commemoration of World War One by helping the World War One Centennial Commission identify the monuments located within the City limits that are dedicated to World War One and its veterans.
The City of Plainfield has a number of World War One monuments including: Plainfield Veterans' Memorial Monument, World War plaque at the steps of City Hall, World War One Honor Roll tablet located inside City Hall, flagpole monument on Watchung Avenue, flagpole monument at St. Mary's Church, memorial tablet located inside Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, and Plainfield High School memorial tablet. It is interesting to note that the War Memorial Flagpole monument at Watchung Avenue is listed in the Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum. The artist was Gaetano Cecere (1894-1985).
The Historical Society is requesting the assistance of the Public to identify any other World War One monuments or memorial tablets that may be located at churches, parks, or other places. Pictures will be taken and descriptions will be written, and then submitted to the World War One Centennial Commission. If you know of any other World War One monuments or tablets, please supply your information to the Drake House Museum firstname.lastname@example.org or call (908) 755-5831.
The Historical Society is planning a future exhibit about World War One and the impact of the War on the City. Plainfield lost a number of young men, and the Historical Society has a notebook which contains information about 45 of these casualties of war. Former Mayor Leighton Calkins lost his only son. Many of these men died from the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919, and the City of Plainfield also suffered great losses from the Influenza Pandemic. One of Plainfield's World War One surviving veterans was Evarts Tracy, the pioneering camouflage officer of the World War One. Tracy was also a member of the architectural firm that designed the 1903 buildings of Muhlenberg Hospital.