Take advantage of Montclair Historical Society this summer!
Montclair houses inimitable homes and buildings from the past. Most have not been abandoned, becoming once-upon-a-time telltales, but actually maintained and utilized, creating that special charm that whiffs around town. Many of these old buildings owe their survival to the Montclair Historical Society, which dedicates themselves to preserving and educating people about the history of Montclair. Famous buildings that MHS has preserved over the years include the Israel Crane House and Historic YWCA, Nathaniel Crane house, Clark House/ Library, and Charles Shultz House.
To brief you quickly on the history of the Montclair Historical Society, it was founded in 1965 as a nonprofit organization and has remained one to this day. The society’s main purpose was to save historic buildings, artifacts, and establish grounds for education through exhibits, programs, and advocacy. MHS offers a number of educational opportunities as well as tours throughout the enigma of buildings preserved right in our backyard.
I took a visit to the Clark House/Library; quite the spectacle of architecture, it looked as if it hadn’t aged a day since it was built in 1894, but sang with a mysterious magic that we lack in modern day. The Society’s hard work and efforts to preserve this building shined through, as they have also filled it with a huge collection of books and historical documents citing Montclair’s past. MHS’ goal to inform the curious about Montclair’s origins is absolutely achieved; I left complete with knowledge and awareness of the historical significance not only of the Clark House/Library but the essential history of Montclair itself. If anything, I’m ready to find out more.
The array of programs hosted by MHS is great for all ages to attend and participate in. These programs are available to school groups, homeschooled kids, boy and girl scouts, and private groups. Some exciting opportunities involve Hearth Cooking, which details what it was like to cook and prepare food centuries ago (they even use the appropriate time pieces to demonstrate!). The Plant the Seed program is offered to homeschool students to teach them about farming and cultivation through historical means and techniques. Another, the Life in Early New Jersey program educates kids on the history of Montclair through the sights and sounds of what the past looked like plus, it includes the Hearth Cooking program – perfect for a class field trip.
MHS has also introduced the Montclair Community Farms Coalition to preserve farmland around town. They’ve transformed the land at 108 Orange Road into a successful micro-farm and involved the community in agricultural and nutritional education as well as provided the town with locally grown produce.
Thanks to the Montclair Historical Society, original buildings, homes, and grounds of Montclair have survived the test of time, and they’ve taken great initiative to educate the community. You’ve driven by and certainly gazed at these landmarks with curiosity countless times, why not research your roots and join in on some of these amazing programs and tours offered by the MHS (it’s fun!)? Who knows, you could be Montclair’s next great historian.