Plainfield Garden Club

Member: Smith, Mrs. Garret H. (Florence Cavanaugh) '27

1928 Treasurer Book May 23rd $5.00
1929 Treasurer Book Active $5.00
1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 Treasurer Book Active

1932 Directory* Address: 516 Ravine Road
* = This directory is not dated but presumed to be from the year 1932.
NOTE: Throughout the resource materials, "Garret" is spelled often as "Garrett" which is incorrect.

1938 Treasurer Book, Active: Mrs. Garrett Smith (penciled lightly "bill") 4/9/38 Pd. (penciled lightly "ch") 6/19/39 Under "Active" 4/19/40 Pd. 4/3/41 Pd.

1941 - 1942 - 1943 Treasurer Book, Active: Mrs. Garret Smith 5/8/42 Pd. 5/29/43 Pd. 5/2/44 Pd. 1/31/45 Pd. 12/4/45 8/46 June 30, 1947 June 28, 1948 July 1, 1949

1942 Address: 653 Ravine Road
NOTE: This list has "Garrett"

1950 - 1951 Treasurer Book: Smith, Mrs. Garret Honorary Member

1950 - 1951 Treasurer Book: Scrap piece of paper found "Mrs. Garrett Smith 8th Street"

1958 Address: 132 Crescent Ave

In 1965, the 50th Anniversary of the Plainfield Garden Club, Mrs. Garret Smith was listed as an "Honorary Member"

1970: Runnels Nursing Home, Bonnie Burn Road, Berkeley Heights 07922. NOTE: Handwritten is a "D" next to her name which has a slash.
NOTE: Listed in 1970 as "Honorary Member"

June 1944 The Bulleting article by Mrs. Garret Smith

June 1944 GCA The Bulletin article by Mrs. Garret Smith, Conservation Chairman
Bulletin of
The Garden Club
of America

JUNE, 1944 No. 24 (8th Series)
Exhibition Committee

The Plainfield Garden Club, through its Conservation Chairman, Mrs. Garret Smith, secured from the Exhibition Committee for display in Plainfield two exhibits, the Wood Exhibit and the Food Exhibit.
Mrs. Smith reported when the first one was in place for the month of April that the Rayon section was being shown in a beautiful window of the Plainfield Trust Company where it attracted much attention, with a card reading: "From Loan Exhibit, 'Trees and Other Plants Used in War Industry,' of the GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA' now shown at the Public Library by the. Plainfield Garden Club." The local paper, she wrote, had been generous in giving valuable space for two fine notices. The second exhibit is being shown in the library for the
month of May, with the Ford Company Soybean Exhibit in the role of attracting attention of passers-by to encourage them to visit the exhibit at the library. The Exhibition Committee welcomes this cooperation from the most recent Club to become a member of the GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA.

Mrs. Garrett Smith '27

unknown dated photo

Mrs. Garrett Smith '27

back of photo

Photographed in the first row is Plainfield Garden Club President Mrs. Arthur D. Seybold 1970 - 1972

1915 - 1965 History of the Plainfield Garden Club

page 26

1915 - 1965 History of the Plainfield Garden Club

page 27

June 1944 GCA The Bulletin article by Mrs. Garret Smith, Conservation Chairman

June 1944 GCA The Bulletin article by Mrs. Garret Smith, Conservation Chairman
Bulletin of
The Garden Club
of America

JUNE, 1944 No. 24 (8th Series)
Exhibition Committee

The Plainfield Garden Club, through its Conservation Chairman, Mrs. Garret Smith, secured from the Exhibition Committee for display in Plainfield two exhibits, the Wood Exhibit and the Food Exhibit.
Mrs. Smith reported when the first one was in place for the month of April that the Rayon section was being shown in a beautiful window of the Plainfield Trust Company where it attracted much attention, with a card reading: "From Loan Exhibit, 'Trees and Other Plants Used in War Industry,' of the GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA' now shown at the Public Library by the. Plainfield Garden Club." The local paper, she wrote, had been generous in giving valuable space for two fine notices. The second exhibit is being shown in the library for the
month of May, with the Ford Company Soybean Exhibit in the role of attracting attention of passers-by to encourage them to visit the exhibit at the library. The Exhibition Committee welcomes this cooperation from the most recent Club to become a member of the GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA.

1920 Subcommittee No. 5 (Ordindance) of the Select Committee on Expenditures in the War Department, House of Representatives

New York, NY, Saturday, January 10, 1920

The committee met at 9 o'clock pursuant to the taking of adjournment on yesterday, Hon. William J. Graham (chairman) presiding. Also present: Hon. Albert W. Jefferis and Hon. Finis J. Garrett


(The witness was duly sworn by Mr. Graham)
Mr. Graham. Mr. Smith, what is your full name?
Mr. Smith. Garret Smith.
Mr. Graham. Where do you live?
Mr. Smith. Plainfield, NJ
Mr. Graham. What is your business?
Mr. Smith. I am a magazine and newspaper writer.
Mr. Graham. Are you doing any special work at this time?
Mr. Smith. I am doing special articles for the Press Service at this time; yes, sir.
Mr. Graham. In whose employ are you?
Mr. Smith. The Press Service Co. in that regard.
Mr. Graham. Where is that company?
Mr. Smith. 30 East Forty-second Street.
Mr. Graham. Who is the manager at the head of it?
Mr. Smith. A. E. Moree.
Mr. Graham. The Mr. Moree who is here?
Mr. Smith. Yes, sir.
Mr. Graham. I hand you four articles which have been sent over the country, and ask you to look at them; did you prepare these articles?
Mr. Smith. Yes, sir.
Mr. Graham. When did you prepare them?
Mr. Smith. In the latter part of September and the fore part of Ocotober, if I remember rightly; about that time.
Mr. Graham. At whoe request did you prepare them?
Mr. Smith. At the request of the Press Service Co.
Mr. Graham. Who gave you the information that you used making them up?

The questioning continues with Mr. Smith revealing his sources at American Cyanamid and Muscle Shoals. In addition, the articles he wrote are printed here:


Mrs. Smith passes away July 1971

Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Plainfield Garden Club by Lucy Von Boskerck

Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Plainfield Garden Club by Lucy Von Boskerck

1941 - 1947 Club History by Etheldreda Anderegg

653 Ravine Road

Plainfield Library

Collection Collier
Title Backyard Garden, June 1926
Image Year 1926
Time Period 1920s
Description View of garden in rear of home, 1926, Plainfield, 653 Ravine Road, possibly the home of Mrs. Garret (Florence) Smith, showing a woman and possibly the work of Davey Tree Experts

Photo ID C-20303
Address 653 Ravine Road
Historic District
Creator Paul Collier

C-20303 1926 Collier Backyard Garden, June 1926 653 Ravine Road View of garden in rear of home, 1926, Plainfield, 653 Ravine Road, possibly the home of Mrs. Garret (Florence) Smith, showing a woman and possibly the work of Davey Tree Experts
18 C-20304 1926 Collier Base of Tree in Garden, June 1926 653 Ravine Road Base of tree, 1926, Plainfield, 653 Ravine Road, possibly the property of Mrs. Garret (Florence) Smith, possibly showing the tree repair work of Davey Tree Experts
19 C-20308 1926 Collier Woman in Backyard Garden, June 1926 653 Ravine Road Woman in backyard, 1926, Plainfield, 653 Ravine Road, possibly the property of Mrs. Garret (Florence) Smith showing the work of Davey Tree Experts

1941 - 1942 Club History by Etheldreda Anderegg, version 2

[Editor's note: The original document was too faded to scan. This is a different version of a history written by Mrs. Etheldreda Anderegg from 1941 – 1947]

Plainfield Garden Club History
Continued to 1947

On May 14th, 1941 – six years ago to-day in Cedarbrook Park – the Anniversary Dogwood Trees were formally presented to the Park Commission. In making the presentation, Mrs. Arthur Nelson, president, said the garden club wished to make a gift of lasting beauty to mark its anniversary. Mr. Tracey responding for the Park Commissioners commended the club for its civic interest and declared the trees would bring a touch of beauty to thousands of lives. The gift was identified by a large boulder bearing a bronze marker. Mrs. Holliday as chairman of the Dogwood Tree Committee and of the Boulder Committee arranged the anniversary celebration.

That year, 1941, an article appeared in Horticulture in praise of our Shakespeare Garden.

A teacher of the Jefferson School staff was sent to the Audubon Nature Camp in Maine.

Handsome new yearbooks containing a revised constitution, membership lists and permanent covers with loose leaves were issued. About this time some of our members looking back upon some of our achievements of the past, and forward for new horizons to explore, agreed that once more we should storm the ramparts of the Garden Club of America. No organization in garden club circles offers to its members such a wide field of opportunities and assured prestige. This reporter has sat in many important national and state conferences were the effect of this prestige could be observed. When important decisions were due there was an intangible inference in the atmosphere which stemmed to imply – "All those not members of the Garden State of America may now retire to the Jim Crow car."

Better to have failed in the high aim than to succeed vulgarly in the low one" said Browning.

So a committee to explore the possibilities of our being accepted for membership was named by Mrs. Nelson. With Mrs. Corriel as chairman, the committee consisted of Miss Elsie Harmon, Mrs. C. Boardman Tyler, Miss Elizabeth Browne, Miss William Tyler, Mrs. William A. Holliday, Mrs. James Devlin and your historian. Our search for new worlds to conquer began with a meeting at the home of Mrs. William Tyler, on February 21, 1941, when your historian read a letter she had been asked to write to Mrs. Frederic Kellogg, of Morristown Garden Club, prominent garden club personality. The letter would be interesting at this point, but unfortunately it has been lost. Suffice to say, our prise of ourselves was so completely uninhibited that the committee itself was profoundly impressed by the record of performance of the Plainfield Garden Club set forth therein. Shakespeare said "Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful." After all they could not know our worth unless we told them. This time we forestalled a verdict that we had "accomplished nothing."

It might be interjected here that during Mrs. Goddard's regime an effort was made to join the Garden Club of America. Mrs. Kellogg, approached on that occasion, graciously entertained Mrs. Goddard and Mrs. Holliday at luncheon, and they left with the impression that Plainfield, having rejected an invitation to become a charter member of that organization during Mrs. Herring's tenure, it would be futile ever to hope for membership.

An active campaign was launched by all who had relatives or friends in member clubs. This was accelerated when it was learned that a neighboring club had an identical ambition, and had found a sponsor. Because of geographical allocation, we realized that only one of us would be admitted. When it became apparent that we had aroused interest, and had a semblance of chance for acceptance, a special meeting was called at the home of Mrs. Corriel, and the advantages of membership in the Garden Club of America, as well as the financial obligations thoroughly explored. The club was asked to decide whether they wished the committee to proceed with the negotiations. The vote was unanimously affirmative.

Subsequently Mrs. Kellogg requested that the Morristown Club have the pleasure of proposing us, and Mrs. Lauderdale of Short Hills offered to have that club second us. While we waited for the verdict, our campaign never waned.

On May 11th, 1941, tenth anniversary of Iris Garden, the executive board gave a tea to honor Miss Halloway. Mrs. Holliday arranged a delightful affair in the field house. Members of the garden club and thirty guests were invited. Miss Halloway's friends came from far and near while the Iris Garden glowed in a rainbow of colors for the occasion.

The war which was sweeping over France while Mrs. VanBoskerck's history concluded had now reached our shores. "Come to open purple testament of bleeding war." (King Richard) Our members were working for the U.S.O., the Red Cross and Camp Kilmer, apart and in conjunction with the garden club. Plans were sent to the camp to enhance its barren scenes, and seeds to Brittain. Victory gardens were planted, two new chairmanships were added to the executive board – War Activities and Victory Gardens.

In May 1943, we provided vases and began to send flowers regularly to the chapels at Camp Kilmer. This is still being done. Garden books from the Garden Center were placed in the Public Library. Because of gasoline and food rationing it was becoming difficult to hold meetings. Speakers were reluctant to use scarce gasoline and tires for small groups. The war organizations were asking for more things, more effort and more money. The garden club was striving to provide all three.

In June 1943 a delegation from the Garden Club of America came to inspect our members' gardens. Those gardens chosen to head the list were duly explored and approved, but unfortunately the sand of time ran out before they could see them all, and they will never realize all they missed. However, they did see the dogwood planting, the Shakespeare and Iris gardens.

At the annual meeting Mrs. Samuel Carter gave a particularly interesting history of the Shakespeare garden, which was later read by request at the Shakespeare Club. Mrs. Carter said in part: "It has been said that we of the Western World love flowers for what they are, and that the peoples in the East love them for what they suggest. A Shakespeare Garden is full of suggestions, a speaking garden revealing the tradition, folklore and romance of the ancient and timeless plants." Mr. Tracey quoted an authority on the subject as saying that Mrs. Carter's was the finest Shakespeare Garden in the country and that over 15,000 people visited it last year.

Mrs. Coriell announced at the executive board meeting February 2nd, 1944, that Plainfield Garden Club had been elected to membership in the Garden Club of America, and letters of welcome received from sponsoring clubs. It had required three years to reach the new horizons, but a poet once said, "A horizon is nothing but the limit of our sight" so each one attained shows another beckoning in the distance.

Because of rationing, meetings were held in semi-public places of central location. Speakers stressed every phase of conservation. Garden club members were working hard at Camp Kilmer, for the Red Cross and the U.S.O.

In 1945 we became a Founder of the Blue Star Drive, our members contributing generously to this beautiful tribute to the men who served in the armed forces. It is hoped, and the hope is rapidly being fulfilled, that ultimately it will stretch from New Jersey to California.

A new custom was instituted, that of sending a sum of money to the Red Wood Tribute Grove in memory of deceased members. This year, 1945, a dance recital was given to help defray expenses of war activities. Naturally it was under the chairmanship of Miss Maud vonBoskerck, whose motto might well be "Music is my talent – my dearest one." It was very successful artistically and financially.

We helped the New York Botanical Garden celebrate its Fiftieth Anniversary by sending hostesses every day for a week, and by a substantial sum of money for plant research.

In 1945 Lyons Hospital was included on our flower and plant list, and we have continued to supply it weekly for two months of each year. Flowering trees were planted along Blue Star Drive in memory of members' sons lost in the war.

Mrs. Samuel Carter and Miss Harriette Halloway received awards from the Garden Club of New Jersey for their work in Shakespeare and Iris gardens respectively.

Besides bouquets were made twice a week for the wards at Camp Kilmer, beginning in May. Our members volunteered to arrange them.

By this time we were discovering that those "new worlds to conquer" for which we had longed, were providing more opportunities than we could well cope with, and so a junior membership was formed, now numbering six.

The associate membership was enlarged to thirty-five so that active members might be enabled to transfer to it. A questionnaire was sent of work they wished to do. In a Garden Club of America contest for a year's program, Miss Halloway's won honorable mention.

Beginning early in December members of the club met every day in Mrs. Boardman Tyler's studio to make Christmas decorations for the hospital at Camp Kilmer. A big fire blazed in the stove, tons of varied evergreens were provided as well as all other necessary equipment. The studio hummed like Santa Claus' workshop, and great quantities of wreaths with large red bows, small bouquets and other favors emerged to cheer the soldiers at Camp Kilmer and Lyons Hospitals. Joyce Kilmer, for whom the camp was named, wrote of his experience in the other World War: "My shoulders ache beneath my pack, Lie easier cross upon his back" We hoped we eased their burden just a little.

The opportunities offered by the Garden Club of America in the field of conservation are so many and so varied, it was necessary to choose which tangent to pursue. In view of the community and national problems of vandalism and child delinquency, it was thought wise to concentrate the major effort in combating these evils. Working through the public schools seemed the most logical procedure. Mr. Wimer of Jefferson School and Mrs. Rulison of the Park Commission have offered sympathetic cooperation. The first step in the program is the establishment of school gardens, now in process of being planted. The garden club provided the funds. A trial garden, or proving bed was started in Cedarbrook Park in 1946. This year many new perennials were added.

Mrs. Hubble's artistic ability was employed so successfully in redecorating the Garden Center, this observer could scarcely recognize it.

The Garden Club of New Jersey bestowed an award upon us for meritorious work at Camp Kilmer. Miss Halloway has made additions to the peony, Iris and Narcissus gardens. It again became necessary to raise money, and a repeat performance by request, of the dance recital was staged by Miss Van Boskerck.

A suggestion from the Garden Club of New Jersey that we plant a tree to honor garden weekled, after consultation with Mr. Tracey, to the beginning of a dogwood arboretum comprising all the varieties that will grow in this vicinity. Twenty-five varieties have already been planted.

Santa Claus helpers gathered again in Mrs. Tyler's studio to make decorations for Camp Kilmer, and surpassed their effort of the previous year. Our work in this Project was not equaled by that of any club either year.

A thrill of pride must have quivered through our membership from founders to newest recruits, triumphs of our members who exhibited in the New York Flower Show. In the realm of flower arrangement there is no more coveted award than the Fenwick Medal. Our Mrs. deHart was runner up fro that prize last year. This year four exhibits won three blue ribbons and two special awards. It was a magnificent performance which won for us third place in the sweepstakes.

Chapel flowers still are sent to Camp Kilmer. Our members arrange them. We take our turn with the other clubs supplying flowers for the entire hospital regularly from gardens when possible, from florists in cold weather. Two gray Ladies representing Plainfield Garden Club, arrange and distribute the flowers through the wards. The by-laws were again revised and new books issued for the permanent covers.

The executive committee has not overlooked the fact that a War Memorial is of paramount interest to the garden club. Much time as been spent in discussion and deep thought given the matter. Mrs. Boardman Tyler has been named a member of the committee. This year we are sending a teacher to the Audubon Nature Camp in Maine, and another to the Conservation Workshop in Trenton.

Several members have been invited to speak on varied subjects, notably Mrs. Garret Smith on Church Gardens, and Miss Halloway on horticultural subjects. Mrs. Garret has been honored as founder of the Little Garden Club of New York City, of which she is honorary president.

A big of biographical information picked up while perusing the minutes is that our new president, Mrs. Loziuex, became a member of the club in 1940, second vice president in 1942, again in 1945, first vice president in 1946 and president in 1947.

Having been a member of the club only ten years, your historian cannot speak with absolute authority, but thinks it probably that the club reached greater heights of achievement under this administration of Mrs. Tyler than during any comparable period of time. This is partly true because of the new opportunities offered by affiliation with the Garden Club of America, and partly due to Mrs. Tyler's dynamic energy and her determination that the Plainfield Garden Club take advantage of these opportunities and assume its rightful position in the vanguard of progressive garden clubs.

Junius described Mrs. Tyler perfectly when he wrote: "the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct and the hand to execute."

We notice as we go over the chronicles of the garden club, the absence of names once listed so frequently:

Those whom we loved so long, and see no more
Loved and still love,
Not dead, but gone before.

If we ever adopt a coat of arms, it might well show crossed trowels over a field of flower arrangements, the other expounding the futility of vandalism to a young cub. And the motto? It must be from Shakespeare, and it is from The Tempest: Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground.

Or if we choose to abandon the classics: Never a dull moment!

Etheldreda Anderegg
Historian, 1947

First Presbyterian Church of Plainfield 1888

Contributors: J. Augustus Smith

Class of 1903 Rochester Review January 1955

Garret Smith of Plainfield, N. J., died on October 13, 1954, at his home. He was seventy-eight. A native of Rochester, Mr. Smith was a former reporter for Rochester newspapers and was a special correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. From 1940 to 1948, he was a copy-reader on the New York Herald Tribune. He retired several years ago. Mr. Smith was a member of Alpha Delta Phi.

Smith, Garret (1876 - 1954?)

American journalist, writer of fiction. Night editor New York Tribune. Contributor to the pulp magazines, poet. Also wrote a mystery book I Did It! (1928)

Quote from Garet Smith

Revenge holds another irony. It so often proves unnecessary. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord," wrote an ancient Hebrew sage. No mere pious platitude. An axiom of human psychology that is too little understood. Substitute "Nature" for "the Lord," if you desire. Those given to harming others bear within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. When a man injures you, it's often better to let Nature take her course. That wise old lady is pretty sure to do a juster and more artistic job of punishment than you.

GARRET SMITH, Living Sparks of Life

Garret Smith the New York abolitionist

Born in Utica, NY 1797 and owned a lot of land in NY, also helped the abolitionists and the underground railroad.

He was a fierce abolishionist and actually financed John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. When he thought he, too, would be accused of treason, he had a mental breakdown and spend the rest of his days in the Utica Insane Asylum. I am currently reading "The Cloudsplitter" by Russell Banks (the story of John Brown as told be his son Owen at the end of his life - historical fiction, but lots of references to Garrit Smith.) My interest is that I also had a relative who came from
western NY to Crawford Co. PA - Rev. Jedediah Smith - and I am working to see if he may have had a connection to Garrit. -From RootsWeb

Plainfield Public Library Archive


Mrs. Clifford Baker Heads Garden Club; Reports Stress Recent Civic Improvements

Election of officers of the year's work, especailly that of a civic nature recently undertaken, and an address by Mrs. Otto Lane, who gave instructions in making conservation Christmas wreaths, featured the annual meeting of the Plainfield Garden Club yesterday at the home of Mrs. George W. Fraker in Rahway Road.

Mrs. Leslie Runyon Fort, retiring president, was in charge of the business session. These officers were chosen for the coming year: President, Mrs. Clifford M. Baker; vice-presidents, Mrs. Harry P. Marshall and Mrs. Raymond V. V. Miller; recording secretary, Mrs. Anna Stewartl corresponding secretary, Miss Laura Detwiller; treasurer, Mrs. Frederick W. Yates.

Mrs. Samuel T. Carter, Jr., gave a report of the work in the Shakespeare Garden in Cedar Brook Park. During the year there were a number of plantings in the garden which have added to its attractiveness.

Mrs. Thomas R. Van Boskerck requested donations of jellies for the Flower, Plant and Fruit Guild for distribution among the sick and shut-ins. They can be sent to her home, 1232 Prospect Avenue.

The following letter was received from Edward Baker, Jr., president of the Lions club:

"I am writing you in behalf of the Lions Club of Plainfield in regarde to the very wonderful work the Plainfield Garden Club is doing around our city. Some of the members of our club have seen the work in Cottage Place and also, the brook in Watchung Avenue, which is about completed. We just want you to know that we consider this one of the finest pieces of civic service which has been rendered Plainfield. As citizens and members of the Lions Club we certainly appreciate this work."

A report of unusual interest was presented by the conservation committe of the club. It was in part as follows:

"In early October, 1931, at the request of the Chamber of Commerce a survey was made by our president, Mrs. Leslie R. Fort and the chairman of the conservation committee of the Chamber of Commerce. This report embodied suggestions for work at conscpicuous places in the city . . . be of help in unemployment relief the club made an appropriation to be used as far as possible for wages only. Great interest was at once shown not only by club members, but also by people in many walks of life.

"Two projects were undertaken. The one first begun was Cottage Place close to the railroad tracks. Following some publicity for the work being attempted, gifts came freely – top soil, manure, plants, trees and shrubs. City officials, those of the park and street departments and the New Jersey Central, co-operated gernerously.

"Today a beautiful little park awaits the spring. There have been planted 31 trees where none stood before; 26 rose bushes and over 375 other plants and shurbs have been most carefully set out. This work employed 139 hours at 50 cents an hour and 312 hours at 40 cents an hour. The expenditure was $169.50. Cottage park has been evolved.

"It was evident when the work at Cottage Place was well underway that a second piece of work could be begun. The south bank of Green Brook at the Watchung Avenue bridge was chosen as the worst eyesore in the city. Here, as in Cottage Place, advice was generously given that nothing could be done. But the gardeners just kept on working. Gifts kept coming. A tractor was brought in to cope with stones and debris impossible for men to move. Today another pleasnt little park created by the garden club also awaits the spring.

"Because in pioneer days the little stream, now called Green Brook, was called the Sahcunk River, streams, and the tribe dwelling here along its banks were teh Sahcunk Indians, this little park made by our club is now called Sahcunk Park. In those early days from Rock Avenue to Bound Brook there was located Waccaho-vo-howiohy Village, the name meaning "where you can dig into the ground."

"In two projects 28 1/4 hours at 50 cents an hour and 211 3/4 hours at 40 cents an hour made an expenditure of $99.30. The total planting of 51 trees, 89 roses and 750 other plants and shrubs cost $268.60. Every cent went for wages so the garden club has the enviable record of being able to dispense 100 per cent relief. The fine co-operative spirit shown in every direction made every moment a delight.

"Those of us who really dug in the gardens are quite conscious that many defects may be discovered easily by those so minded. But we trust that these plots, slected as behicles for helping those in distress will be filled with flowers and restful shade. And we hope that each succeeding year will find these spots a little lovelier because of our civic interest in them and that this part of co-operative effort will not be forsaken."

Among the women who were actively engaged in these enterprises were Mrs. Leslie R. Fort, president; Mrs. J. L. Devlin, Mrs. Thomas R. VanBoskerck, Mrs. Garret Smith, Mrs. Henry L. DeForest, Mrs. Clinton Ivins, Miss Elsie Harman, Mrs. Charles A. Eaton and Mrs. Henry Wells.

Plainfield Public Library Archive


Garden Club Plans For Flower Show

Plans were about completed for the flower show of the Plainfield Garden Club at a meeting yesterday in the home of the chairman. Mrs. Wallace Coriel, 963 Central Avenue. The show is to be held May 5 and 6 in the Assembly Room of the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Richard Lawton, a prize winner in many horticultural exhibitions, is schedule chairman, and is spected to have schedules printed soon for distribution.

Fully two-thirds of the 50 classes scheduled are listed as "horticultural." The flower arrangment classes are in the minority. The schedule is planned to be of educational value to both experienced gardeners and beginners.

The committee includes Mrs. Corriell, chairman, Mrs. Dudley H. Barrows, secretary; Mrs. Harry Williams, treasurer; Mrs. C. Boardman Tyler and Mrs. William K. Dunbar, decoration and floor plan; Mrs. Henry L. DeForest, properties; Mrs. Henry Marshall, staging; Mrs. Lawton and Mrs. Henry C. Wells, schedule; Mrs. William S. Tyler, exhibits.

Also Miss Harriette R. Halloway, specimens; Miss Josephine Lapslety, entries; Mrs. Garret Smith, publicity; Mrs. Leslie R. Fort and Mrs. Edward H. Ladd Jr., judges, and Mrs. Clifford M. Baker, prizes.

Plainfield Public Library Archive

1954 Check Book

No. 1126
Nov. 3, 1954
National Audubon Society
Dues - 1955

No. 1127
Nov. 12, 1954
Snyder Bros.
Begonias for Mrs. Garret Smith

No. 1128
Nov. 12, 1954
Interstate Printing
1000 postcards (?)
meeting notice

Residence of Frank H. Smith, 707 West Eighth Street

In this illustrated book, the Courier-News has sought to present some of the representative homes of The Plainfields and adjoining territory, together with such other buildings of interest and importance as would serve to convey an idea of the physical attractioins of one of the most beautiful and healthful cities in the Metropolitan District. The homes reflect the desirability of this community as a place of residence.

The churches, schools, clubs and public buildings pictured serve to give the stranger some conceptions of the beauty of the city and its right to be termed the "Queen City" of New Jersey.

With picturesque Watchung Hills as a background, this section with all its natural advantages, plus a progressive spirit, coupled with high class local governing bodies and a live Chamber of Commerce, is pecularily adapted for home sites and, as a result, it has enjoyed a steady and healthy growth for many years.

publication circa 1917

Residence of Raymond M. Smith, 982 Madison Avenue

In this illustrated book, the Courier-News has sought to present some of the representative homes of The Plainfields and adjoining territory, together with such other buildings of interest and importance as would serve to convey an idea of the physical attractioins of one of the most beautiful and healthful cities in the Metropolitan District. The homes reflect the desirability of this community as a place of residence.

The churches, schools, clubs and public buildings pictured serve to give the stranger some conceptions of the beauty of the city and its right to be termed the "Queen City" of New Jersey.

With picturesque Watchung Hills as a background, this section with all its natural advantages, plus a progressive spirit, coupled with high class local governing bodies and a live Chamber of Commerce, is pecularily adapted for home sites and, as a result, it has enjoyed a steady and healthy growth for many years.

publication circa 1917

Hydrangea House on Madison Avenue

Hydrangea House
977 Madison Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060

A Brief History
This Grand Dutch Colonial style home, built in the late 1800s, is now part of the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District which was established in 1986. The current owners, Drew Bucksar and Larry Hillman, named their home ‘Hydrangea House' because of the large hydrangea tree, an original landscape planting, which still stands to the left of the front walkway. Hydrangeas were popular during the Victorian era and the property now has a large variety of them in the gardens.

They got the idea for the name of the house from the mailperson and the neighbors when theywere moving in during late October of 2002. The hydrangea tree had become so large it was blocking the walk to the front door. In an effort to clear the way for the furniture movers, they started pruning the tree. The neighbors, watching from their windows, were horrified and came outside to tell them how beautiful the tree was in July and August and to plead with them not to cut it down. The mailperson then passed by and said that she often referred to the place as the house with the large hydrangea. Thus the new name was born.

Prior to 1902, the house and property was part of the Manning Stelle farm and estate. In April 1902, after Manning Stelle passed away, the property was deeded to Raymond Smith. Raymond, according to the deed documents, was underage. It is believed he was probably seventeen. It is not currently clear the realtionship of Raymond to the Stelle family. In June 1902, Raymond deeded the property to his mother, Mary B. Smith. In October 1903, a second tract of land was added to the first increasing the size of the property.

During the time that the Smith family lived in the house, they requested several permits and made alterations and extensions to the house. Due to this information and alterations to the foundation and basement, it is believed that the house was enlarged during its early years and the facade altered to become the Grand Dutch Colonial it is today. It's also believed that these changes were done prior to 1940. The Smith's built the ‘auto barn' in 1910. For one of the permits issued after 1910 for extensions, they spent $1950 which was a sizable amount of money in that era.

The Smith family consisted of Hector Craig Smith [father], Mary M. Smith [mother], and 4 children–W. Irving, Homer B., Raymond M., and Florence. It's interesting to note that their son, Raymond, was a broker in New York during the late 1920s and built the home across the street at 982 Madison Avenue. This is currently the home of Gary and Muriel Lewis. Raymond lived there with his wife, Marguerite, and two children along with a servant.

During the 27 years that the Smith's lived there, Hydrangea House was passed from Mary to Hector and then to the children. After their father passed away in 1928, the brothers deeded the property to their only sister and the house stayed in the Smith family until April 13, 1929, when Florence Smith, the spinster sister, sold the property to Russell and Marion Willard. It was during this time when the Willard's lived in the house that phone service was added making it one of the first houses to have a phone. This information was discovered from records at the Plainfield Library. Mr. Willard was an aluminum salesman working in New York. He and his wife, Marion, had 3 daughters, Elizabeth, Evelyn, and Nadine. They also had 2 servants from Scotland–a cook and a nursemaid.

Drew and Larry actually met Evelyn in late 2008 when she and her son dropped by the house late one evening and knocked on the door asking if they could come in and ‘look around.' Evelyn lived in the house when she was one year old until her tenth birthday. She told them some wonderful stories and shared her memories about the house and living there. She is presently in her 90s.

The Willard's sold the house to A. and Ethel Stanley in March 1939. The Stanley's requested a permit for a frame alteration and spent $930 on renovations at that time. This again supports the theory that substantive changes were made in the house. Some of those will be highlighted later in the blog.

The Stanley's sold the house to Edward and Mildred Herlong in May 1946. According to the deed book, Ethel Stanley had changed her name to Mundy causing Drew and Larry to believe that there had been a divorce between the couple.

In October 1950, Edward Herlong deeded the house to Mildred and listed divorce as the reason. Mildred continued to live in the house until December 1954 when she sold the house to Richard and Mary Schmidt. The Schmidt's only lived in the house for a year and sold the property the following December 1955 to Norman and Sondra Starr. Mr. Starr was a partner for the Shager Agency – Accountants located at 211 West Front Street in Plainfield.

In May 1961, after 5 ½ years, the Starr's sold the home to Edward and Julia Meagher. The Meagher's were the longest residents on record living in the house 37 years with their 4 children. Drew and Larry have had the pleasure of having Julia, her sons, daughters, and their families in our home. They, too, have many treasured memories of living in the wonderful old house.

Julia Meagher sold her home to William and Lisa Thomas in February 1998 and moved to Maine. William was the Vice Principal at Cedar Grove Elementary School down the street and Lisa is a special education teacher at Westfield High School. They have 3 terrific children–William, Jr., Sydney and Jordan. Drew and Larry have become friends with this very loving family. The Thomas' moved to a much larger, grander home on Cedarbrook Road in Plainfield and began a restoration effort there.

Drew and Larry bought the property from the Thomas' in August 2002 and moved in during late October. They began the lengthy process of restoring the house–both inside and outside, creating gardens and bringing the house's systems into the 21st century. Among their first tasks were new copper plumbing, up grading electrical systems and installing central air conditioning.

Drew and Larry enjoy living in this 14-room historic beauty. They feel blessed and very lucky to have the opportunity to help preserve this place for the next generation of owners.

During their past 7-plus years, they have been honored to be a host home for Van Wyck Brooks Historic District Twelfth Night Celebrations, participate in various VWB District house tours, and celebrate Drew's daughter's wedding in their home.

Stay tuned…more to come…

Posted by HydrangeaHouseOnMadisonAve at 1:14 PM No comments:

1936 - 1937 Meeting Minutes

1938-1939 Meeting Minutes

1908 Commercial and Financial Chronicle The Plainfield Trust Company

Frank H. Smith
Register of Union County, Elizabeth, NJ

Crescent Avenue Historic District

Application to the National Register of Historic Places

719-23 Watchung Avenue
c. 1880
Interesting gable with central square campanile tower with cross shape plan and flat roof with balustrade.

1885, the home of George R. K. Smith, "soap, N. Y." Later, also the home of C. Benson Wigton, Mayor of Plainfield

Projecting cabinet head windows, supported by small scrolled brackets – diamond shaped applied molding above the double arched window in the gable pediment – tower treatment.

653 Ravine Road


The Netherwood Heights Historic District is named for the Netherwood Hotel which stood at what is now the blocks bordered by Denmark Road, Park Terrace, Belvidere Avenue, Berkeley Avenue. It encompasses 99 homes located throughout the winding roads believed to be the original horse paths of the hoteli, which was built in 1878 when Plainfield was the last stop on the railroadii.

The original retaining walls of the hotel's property still stand in front of 601 Belvidere and 755 Berkeley Avenues. The district's oldest homes date from the 1880's to 1900's, being located the closest to the hotel's site and train station. The horse path to the hotel is still located behind 701 Belvidere, along with the carriage house on 633 Berkeley Avenueiii. The bulk of the district's homes date from the 1920's, including those built on the hotel's property after its demise in 1918iv.

The Netherwood Hotel

Among the stately homes along winding Belvidere Avenue was the residence of Samuel Rushmore. For years, he lived at 777 Belvidere. Rushmore was the inventor of the automobile self-starter, headlights, searchlights for ships, plus many other inventions which did not come into use until after his patents had expired.

This location is also known as the Rushmore-Coffin House because during the reign of Jersey City Mayor Hague in the 1930's and 1940's, a coffin was placed on the roof to protest the mayor's alleged corruption. This home also has a carriage house on Ravine Road to which a tunnel is connected to the main house.

Also of note is 556 Belvidere, once home to the family of the Japanese Ambassador to the United Statesv. The interior features Japanese-style carvings on the coffered ceilings and mantel. The family imported Japanese Maples which can be seen on the property today.

Netherwood is the only location within the Plainfield City limits having its own zip code: 07062. The "town" of Netherwood extends east to west from Woodland Avenue to Terrill, and north to south from the North Plainfield town line to Watchung Avenue. The historic train station of Netherwood was originally built in 1894vi, and then renovated in 1998. Located on South Avenue, the station is designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque-Queen Anne style.

Authors: Louise Colodne, Victor Quinn, William Michaelson and Greg Myers


iIt is believed it may be that the bridal paths, upon which certain roads are based, predate the hotel itself. Besides that the wooded hills were probably used by residents for a long time, maps that feature the hotel include the streets themselves. (Source: Plainfield Library Database)

iiPlainfield was the last stop on the railroad when it was extended there in 1839, and for one year only: by 1840, the railroad was extended to Dunellen. (Sources: NY Times; Central RR of NJ Historical Society)

iiiAccording to a 1926 photo, 653 Ravine Road was the "Netherwood Hotel Carriage House." (Source: Plainfield Library Database)

ivMr. Louis Nadel was manager of the hotel in 1920 and the hotel appears on a 1923 map. Actual destruction unknown. (Sources: American Newspaper Publishers Assn Bulletin; Plainfield Library Database)

vHarry Kuniichi Tetsuka was a Japanese pottery importer who lived here. A cross-reference of available archives between Plainfield or Netherwood with all Japanese Ambassadors to the US does not yield any results. (Source: Plainfield Library Database; NY Times; other unrecalled)

viThe current Netherwood station house was built in 1894. The original Netherwood station house was probably built in 1877 (the train schedule lists a Netherwood "station", which does not require an actual building) and burned down in 1892. (Sources: Central Railroad of NJ Timetables; NY Times)

MISSION STATEMENT: To enhance and grow local community involvement in the area defined as "Netherwood Heights" by elevating community safety, beautifying areas as well as provides a social outlet for our neighborhood.

Netherwood Hotel Carriage House

Netherwood Hotel Carriage House

1922 Catalog of Alpha Delta Phi

Smith, Garret (Pub. Health) 516 Ravine Rd. Plainfield, N.J

The Plainfield Trust Company

Frank H. Smith, Register Union County, Elizabeth, N. J.

1954 - 1970 296 Images from Plainfield Library Scrapbook

September 1963

Civic Worker Cited for Service

Mrs. Garret Smith of 132 Crescent Ave. has been listed in "Who's Who in American Women." The 87-year old civic worker was cited for her conservation and horticultural works on state and national levels.

At present Mrs. Smith is active as chairman of the committee for a Veteran's Bronze Plaque on which 5,000 local World War 2 and Korean Conflict veterans' names will be listed.

Mrs. Smith is also an active member of the Plainfield Garden Club and Plainfield Beautification Committee.

December 1963

A Medieval Design
Herbalist Has a Tudor Knot Garden
by Alice Dennis

Visiting the herb garden of Mrs. Harry Brokaw Smith in Plainfield is not only an education in herbs, their culture and history, but an adventure in other aspects of horticulture and in landscaping.

The Smith garden is really a series of connected gardens and hidden away in their midst like a sanctuary is a Tudor knot herb garden, surrounded by old-fashioned garden roses with a statue of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners, placed in the background in a shrine above a bank of thyme. The shrine is under a late-blooming Chinese dogwood.

Mrs. Smith is a recognized authority on herbs. She is a vice president of the Herb Society of America, a former chairman of the New York Unit of this society and now chairman of the planting committee of the unit which maintains the Herb Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. She retired last spring as horticultural chairman of the Garden Club of New Jersey and also from that office of the Plainfield Garden Club.

She also is a member of the New Jersey Arbor and Garden Committee appointed by Governor Hughes for next year's New York World's Fair. She has written numerous articles on herbs for horticultural publications and also is a the author of a book on Gaspe Pennisula where the Smiths formerly spent their summers, "Gaspe Romantique."

But she credits her husband with being a better horticulturalist. He is an engineer by profession, but his hobby is raising hollies from cuttings and cross-breeding English varieties. his most prized achievement is a large tree, now over 20 feet high in their garden, grown from one of his cultivars and named for his wife, "Olive Smith."

The Smiths' gardens frequently have been visited by horticultural classes from Rutgers University and opened on local benefit tours.

Connected Series
Presumably these tours followed the route along which Mrs. Smith guided us which revealed one surprise after another. We started on the side of the lawn where daffodils, azaleas, mallows, hardy orange, white and French lilacs and other flowers and shrubs bloom in season.

Between cascades of two mock orange trees which make a natural gateway we entered a large oval garden "room" designed around an ancient apple tree which must have been there before the garden was started about 30 years ago. Three huge branches, themselves like trunks, curve out just above the main trunk of this tree to form a natural seat.

At left of the entrance to this hidden room is a rock garden, with a tiny stream of water cascading down over rocks into a deep fish pool at the side. At right of the entrance is an armillary of aril which – like a sundial tells the time. The instrument includes a pedestal holding a bronze sphere on which the hours are marked in Roman numerals and two arrows. The time is signified when the shadow of an arrow falls on a numeral. A rain gauge is nearby.

Forget-me-nots bloom around the pool all summer. Arrowhead or sagittaria, an aquatic herb, also blooms around the edge and Mountain laurel is among shrubs in the background. Flowering trees, and shrubs – including witch-hazel, spindle-tree (euonymus alaetes) English hawthorne, and viburnum tomentosum, start blooming around the circle of the garden in early spring, then in July come the long-lasting pink racemes of aibizzia. A Franklinia tree is also a late bloomer. There is a rose border below the armillary.

The side which continues down from the rock garden leads just to the left of the tall holly tree. Here the shrubs are parted to admit the visitor to a path for meditation, which the Smiths call "Enoch's Walk." This leads between rhododendrons and azaleas, through a wild garden and past Smith's holly nursery. Circling along a hedge of lilacs, past white birches and "His and Hers" compost heaps, one turns right into the secluded herb garden.

The herb collection numbers more than 100 varieties in medicinal, culinary and fragrant categories including some herbs mentioned in the Bible. Mrs. Smith sometimes arranges a collection of these for Christmas exhibits, including Lady's Red Straw, said by some to have been the straw in the manger at Bethlehem.

White strawberries obtained from a nursery and seed house in Paris grow in the herb area.

Plaints of different textures and varying shades of green make the knot garden design stand out. Varieties used in the design include several thymes, germanders (teucrium) with T. chamaedrys at the center of the knot, santolina (lavender cotton) and other lavenders. Outside the knot are all the other numerous herb varieties.

Mrs. Smith has said that she first became interested in herbs through their flavor for cooking, but an heirloom picture of her family, the Wiletts who came to Virginia from England, must also have stirred her interest. This is a tinted engraving representing "The King's Herb Women" who last appeared in coronation processions when George IV was crowned.

December 1963

December 1963

Caption: TUDOR KNOT HERB garden of Mrs. Harry Brokaw Smith of Plainfield is planted in front of shrine to Saint Fiacre, Patron saint of gardeners, under which Mrs. Smith sits on a stone bench covered with thyme.


Gaspesian Heritage Web Magazine

AUTHOR: Book description by CASA

Book cover
Writing in 1936, Olive Willett Smith, a Gaspé native, began her travel book Gaspé the Romantique this way: "In summer, as the thermometer hovers in the nineties and the humidity tags along, go to the Northland; to Gaspé, that eastern arm of the Province of Quebec stretching out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the air is like champagne."

By the wayside, Matapedia.
Throughout the book, the author portrays the history and legends of the Gaspé as well as some of her personal experiences in her "desire to bring to the public a deeper appreciation of the traditions, customs and simple beauty of the lives of these people and the grandeur of the country in which they live."

Unloading fish on Chaleur Bay
In the vein of modern-day tour books, the reader is provided with all the information needed to make a successful road trip through the region. Starting in St. Flavie, through Chaleur Bay to Gaspé and around the coast, the reader will find descriptions and interesting facts about the various towns and villages along Perron Boulevard of 1936, now known as Highway 132. Readers familiar with the drive along the coast will find themselves effortlessly visualizing scenes of the past in the familiar landscape.

View of Percé
Printed in New York by the Thomas Y. Crowell Company in 1936, the book contains 156 pages with black and white photos, illustrations, a map and other useful information for the traveler. This book is available for purchase from antique book dealers or for consultation at the CASA office in New Carlisle.




Olive May Willett Smith

Birth: May 21, 1893
Death: 1977

Daughter of John Benjamin Willett and Annie Smith Willett

Family links:
Harry Brokaw Smith (1889 - 1977)

Hillside Cemetery
Scotch Plains
Union County
New Jersey, USA

Created by: Dianne Delitto
Record added: Aug 10, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 115219074


Travelogue of the Gaspé peninsula, the 'Cradle of French America', once an important fishing base, with historical anecdotes; illustrated with sixteen b/w photos and many line drawings. INSCRIBED by the author on the front end sheet: "For Richard A. Gallagher: Greetings to a grand 'boss' and with the hope that he will enjoy his trip to the Gaspe. From the author, Olive Willett Smith, Nov. 2, 1943." Second printing, says the jacket flap. Hardcover, full green cloth with gilt lettering. Spine ends show some wear, top edge darkened; jacket tanned, especially on spine, which is also faded to the point of being difficult to read; small chips at head of jacket spine. Text clean; 156 pages, map, index, road signs, Q&A for tourists, b/w photos, line drawings.
Quebec, Canada, Travel, Tourism

2001 The Feminine Gaze: A Canadian Compendium of Non-Fiction Women Authors and

Smith, Olive Willett. Olive Willett was born in the Gaspe, Quebec, a land that she adored. On her marriage she became Olive Smith.

In Gaspe the Romantique, Willett wrote a book "to bring to the public a deeper appreciation of the traditions, customs and simple beauty of the lives of these people and the grandeur of the country in which they live." She describes towns and village along the new highway around the peninsula, which "has been the means of bringing the world of today to this isolated coast and more firmly uniting a people who for centuries have lives in a social and religious harmony." Her observations include a gamut of topics such as eel fishing, shrines, provincialisms and jails, as well as historical details.
Smith, Olive Willett. 1936 Gaspe the Romantique. New York: Crowell, 159 pp.

by Library of Congress 1941

Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. [C] Group 3. Dramatic Composition and

The Herb Society of America Award Winners

1966 Helen de Conway Little Medal of Honor
Smith, Olive Willett

This award is given annually at the discretion of the Awards Committee to honor someone who has made outstanding contributions to The Herb Society of America or to the world of horticulture in general.

New York Times Wedding Announcement August 18, 1940

New York Times Wedding Announcement August 18, 1940

Olive Smith Wed To G.D. Roberts; She Has 5 Attendants at Her Marriage in North Plainfield –Wears Ivory Satin

Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. ();
August 18, 1940,
, Section Society News, Women's News, Page 42, Column , words

PLAINFIELD, N.J., Aug. 17– Miss Olive Willett Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brokaw Smith of this place, was married to Geoffrey Dorning Roberts, son of Mr. and Mrs. William J. Roberts ...

Olive's Father: John Benjamin Willett

ID: I17802
Name: John Benjamin WILLETT
RFN: 17802
Change Date: 5 AUG 2011
Sex: M
Birth: 1 AUG 1852
Change Date: 5 AUG 2011
Death: 16 FEB 1913 in New Richmond, Bonaventure Co., Québec, Canada
Change Date: 5 AUG 2011

Ancestry Hints for John Benjamin WILLETT

3 possible matches found on

Father: Peter Benjamin WILLETT b: 13 OCT 1800 in New Richmond, Bonaventure Co., Québec, Canada
Mother: Mary Sarah HAMILTON b: ABT 1811 in Québec, Canada

Marriage 1 Ann Eliza (Elizabeth Ann) SMITH b: 11 JUN 1859 in New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Québec, Canada
Change Date: 5 AUG 2011
Sarah Ann(3) WILLETT b: 4 FEB 1880
Benjamin(1) WILLETT b: 21 FEB 1882
William Thomas(2) WILLETT b: 19 FEB 1884
Henry Howard WILLETT b: 7 APR 1886
Isabella WILLETT b: 5 NOV 1886
Florence Ruby WILLETT b: 7 JAN 1891 in New Richmond, Bonaventure Co., Québec, Canada
Olive May WILLETT b: 21 MAY 1893
John Clifton WILLETT

Friday, April 30, 1965 Plainfield Woman Acclaimed For Conservation Activities

Caption: CITED FOR HER EFFORTS – Mrs. Garret Smith of Plainfield was cited for her many years of conservation work by the New Jersey Park and Recreation Association last night in Elizabeth. Citation is presented by Mrs. John M. Mackie of Summit, second from left, Mrs. Smith's sponsor for the award, while state Commissioner of Conservation and Economic Development Robert A. Roe, left, and association President F. S. Mathewson of Plainfield look on

Plainfield Woman Acclaimed For Conservation Activities

Elizabeth – Mrs. Garret Smith of 132 Crescent Ave., Plainfield, was honored last night by the New Jersey Park and Recreation Association for the many years she has devoted to conservation.

Mrs. Smith, who received a plaque at a dinner in the Winfield Scott Hotel, was cited as "a conservationist, horticulturalist, civic worker, and speaker."

She has give most of her 89 years, the citation read, "to making this world a better place in which to live by planting trees, plans and flowers and strenuously urging others to do likewise."

Speaking at the program were Robert A. Roe, New Jersey commissioner of conservation and economic development, and John T. Cunningham, author, lecturer and conservationist.

Active With Groups
Mrs. Smith was commended for the following activities: as a long time member of the Plainfield Shade Tree Commission, the only woman to serve on the board of directors of the N. J. Federation of Shade Tree Commissions, members of the Plainfield Garden Club, Garden Club of New Jersey, Garden Club of America, charter member of the Union County Association of Shade Tree Commissioners, originator and life honorary president of the Little Garden Club of New York City, and a member of the N. J. Association of Certified Tree Experts.

"She was an originator and leader in a national movement to beautify and advance the utilitarian use of church grounds," the citation continued, "and has been a strong and articulate advocate of parks, large and small, especially neighborhood parks, and has proposed and helped create parks in her own city."

2 Get Citations
Citations were also presented to W. Richmond Tracy of Summit, retired engineer and secretary of the Union County Park Commission, and to Mrs. Robert L. Loyd, of Morristown, a member of the Morris County Park Commission and leader in the Great Swamp project.

Roe said he favors Senate Bill 234, which could elevate the Bureaus of Parks, Forestry and Recreation to division status.

He notes the "vital concern" his department has in the state's present water shortage, commended the Green Acres program and expressed concern about a proposed state budget provision which would cut $5 million from a fund to help local and state agencies construct sewer facilities.

Cunningham, speaking on "Saving New Jersey's Best," stressed the urgency for preserving open spaces in the state. This land is vitally needed for conservation and recreation, he said. He indicated real estate industrial developments along with various other agencies are ?? to take this land an ? for the purposed other than?? for which it was intended.

F. S. Mathewson of Plainfield was re-elected President of the N. J. Park and Recreation Association. ?? those re-elected to the?? committee were ??? Feiring of Watchung, ??? Victor R. King of Plainfield, and J. Harold Loizeaux of Scotch Plains.

Friday, April 30, 1965 Plainfield Woman Acclaimed For Conservation Activities

Friday, April 30, 1965 Plainfield Woman Acclaimed For Conservation Activities

Friday, April 30, 1965 Plainfield Woman Acclaimed For Conservation Activities

Mrs. Garret Smith

Saturday, September 23, 1961

Mrs. Garret Smith Honored By State Arbor Association

Mrs. Garret Smith of 132 Crescent Ave., was presented a television set yesterday at her home by the Arborists Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Society of Certified Tree Experts and the New Jersey Federation of Shade Tree Commissions.

Walter R. Whitham, general chairman of the special activities committee of the Arborists, made the presentation on behalf of the three organizations.

The gift, Whitman said, expresses "our appreciation for your many years of effort and devoted interest to our activities to promote a better understanding and appreciation of trees and their important contribution to our comfort, pleasure, and prosperity."

Now an honorary member, Mrs. Smith had previously been cited as "having done more than any other woman in the cause of shade trees, not only in New Jersey, but throughout our nation."

For many years she was the only woman member of the board of directors of the N. J. Federation of Shade Tree Commissions and of the Plainfield Shade Tree Commission. She was the first woman appointed to these offices and the only woman to address the National Shade Tree Conference.

Mrs. Smith is a member of the National Arbor Day Committee which obtained a proclamation of the last Friday of April as Arbor Day in New Jersey and obtained legislative adoption of the red oak as the state tree.

She proposed and assisted in the planting of the Peace Tree – a red oak – at Morven, the Governor's home, and the Centennial trees, also red oaks, at the West Orange Presbyterian Church which was attended by Civil War General George B. McClellan.

The planting of dogwoods, the state memorial trees and other plantings at the boulder at City Hall grounds honoring those of World War 2 and the Korean Conflict was directed by Mrs. Smith who designed the project which included the benches used by city residents.

She was spokesman at Trenton for the Federation's committee that obtained from the Legislature a $50,000 appropriation to fight Dutch elm disease when it first appeared in New Jersey. For this she received a letter of appreciation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The elm was his favorite tree.

Her radio talks have been re-broadcast and her writings published widely. Mrs. Smith has long been active in the city's civic affairs.

Saturday, September 23, 1961

Saturday, September 23, 1961

circa 1966 Report from Runnells by Mrs. Garret Smith

circa 1966 Report from Runnells by Mrs. Garret Smith

June 2, 1966 Courier News

Mrs. Garret Smith is 90 Today; Long Active As Horticulturist

Mrs. Garret H. Smith, formerly of 132 Crescent ve., celebrated her 90th birthday today.

The widow of Mr. Smith, she has achieved prominence for her lifelong interest and promotion of horticulture and arboreta. She is now staying at Runnells Hospital in Berkeley Heights.

A driving force for the development of shade trees and beautification, she is listed in "Who's Who of American Women." She has served as secretary of the Plainfield Shade Tree Commission and vice president of the Plainfield Garden Club and became the first woman on the board of directors of the N. J. Federation of Shade Tree Commissions.

She was cited for her work by President Roosevelt, Henry Morgenthau and Miss Frances Perkins, former secretary of labor.

Founded Clubs

Mrs. Smith is a life honorary president of the Little Gardens Club of New York which she was the originator and founder and a life honarary member of N. J. Arborists Association.

She holds honorary memberships in the Plainfield Garden Club, N. J. Federation of Shade Tree Commissions and )with certificate of merit) in the N. J. Association of Certified Tree Experts.

Mrs. Smith also headed the committee which selected the design and site of a bronze honor roll of veterans of World War 2 and the Korean War.

Her other activities have included: Radio chairman of the Federated Garden Clubs; member of the Child Welfare Council of Plainfield; executive board of Plainfield Women's Republican Club; board of directors of City's Garden Club of New York; member of the National Arbor Day Committee; and organizer of the Plainfield Civic Beautification Committee.

In 1965, Mrs. Smith was honored by the N. J. Park and Recreation Association for her many years devoted to conservation.

As state conservation chairman of the Garden Clubs of New Jersey during the depression she led an appeal to various agencies that resulted in the planting of 500,000 trees throughout the state along highways and in municipalities.

Church Gardens

She became prominent too far her advocacy of "useful church gardens," a project that has been adopted in many parts of the country.

She was instrumental in the creation of the New Jersey Tree Expert Bureau. As an amateur sculptor, she designed and executed the medal of award and official seal of the Garden Club of New Jersey, the gold medal award of the American Rock Garden Society and the bronze medal of the New Jersey Federation of Women's Clubs.

Mrs. Smith also has served as vice president of the Monday Afternoon Club and as a member of the executive board of the League of American Pen Women.

June 2, 1966 Courier News

MARKS NINE DECADES – Mrs. Garret H. Smith, formerly of 132 Crescent Ave., who is noted for her horticultural interests and civic activities, today, is celebrating her 90th birthday at John E. Runnells Hospital, Berkeley Heights. (Courier-News Photo by Fred Keesing)

June 2, 1966 Courier News

Official emblem of The Garden Club of New Jersey

The Garden Club of New Jersey, Inc. (GCNJ), founded in 1925, is a federation of individual local garden clubs throughout the state. GCNJ has over 5,000 members, age 6-adult.

GCNJ is the state affiliate and a charter member of the National Garden Clubs, Inc., a non-profit educational organization. The membership of NGC is composed of 6,218 member garden clubs with 198,595 members in the fifty states. In addition, there are 447 international affiliates, making NGC the largest volunteer organization in the world.

October 1966 Horticulture Magazine A Tribute Garden by Mrs. Garret Smith

Every city and town, even the smallest village, wishes many times to express long-deserved appreciation of its citizens who served in World War II, the Korean conflict or other such activities. Naturally, too, it wants to carry out such a project tastefully and without an undue amount of expenditure. What could be better than creating a miniature park where its citizens can sit and reflect on a suitably inscribed bronze tablet? Such a tribute, still lacking in many a home town, expresses its finest feelings. Obviously, it also permanently enhances the attractiveness of the community and its historical status.

Expanding this simple plan, the communities might then make the boulder the focal point of an unpretentious design, as was done in Plainfield, New Jersey. The 8-ton boulder, now on the City Hall grounds, first emerged from obscurity when a small hill was levelled for a new housing project a few miles away. Moved and set on a concrete foundation about 30 feet back from the street, the boulder stand near the flagpole. It is in a busy shopping area. For many years, other tablets honored those who served in earlier wars. Before the tablet was cast, clergymen of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant faiths approved the inscription. To those who went from the city, to serve in World War II, 1941 - 45 – the Korean Conflict, 1945 - 53, "to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free." Isaiah, LVIII-6

The stone selected by the city's Beautification Committee isn't "pretty." It is rough and handsome. Unlike our common conglomerate which is also full of little stones, this one was so fused by heat that they will never come loose. Thus, the long search for just-the-right boulder was well rewarded. It has been particularly interesting to amateur and professional geologists as well as to members of garden clubs, who have learned how to embellish gardens and add to their interest by the addition of carefully selected stones. The Japanese have been doing this for centuries.

White dogwoods, a few laurels, white azaleas, dwarf yews, ivy and pachysandra were planted. Flagstones furnished the stepping stones from street to boulder, and on either side of this walkway was placed a large bench. This strong, but simple design is admired by all who visit the garden.

October 1966 Horticulture Magazine A Tribute Garden by Mrs. Garret Smith

October 1966 Bronze Plaque Plainfield honoring Veterans, New Jersey City Hall

October 1966 Horticulture

This article was found in the memorabilia of Barbara Tracy Sandford

October 1966 Horticulture

1941 Courier-News Plainfield Merits Classification as 'City of Beautiful Trees'

November 30, 2013: Found in Barbara Tracy Sandford's memorabilia. Written by PGC Member Mrs. Garret Smith

"I call Plainfield the City of Beautiful Trees," and out-of-town visitor remarked to me the other day. "My business takes me to many towns about this size clear across the country. Trees, or their lack, always impress me most about a town. Beautiful building can't make up for the lack of them. Many towns seem to have choice trees only in one or two sections. Others have only a few tree-lined avenues. But every part of Plainfield has not only interesting individual trees, but long stretches of streets where treetops meet in green arches above the traffic. That doesn't just happen. This town must have been founded by tree-lovers."

The stranger was right, as many specimen trees on old private properties testify. They are trees that were rare and expensive when planted years ago. A number of well-to-do property owners appreciated trees and collected choice kinds. The street trees of about this age also show that far-sighted men planned to make the town keep growing more beautiful in ways that everyone enjoys.

Trees have always been essential to Plainfielders. In the early days elms stretched down North Ave. from east to the west city boundaries. Many still remain now 70 to 80 years old. That avenue helped to establish Plainfield's policy of "beautiful trees for every street."

Value Appreciated
The city's mayors and councilmen have appreciate the value of trees . . . Ginko . . . now ripening, in the edge of the station grounds, near the corner of the drug store.

Among its immediate neighbors, at this station are a Red Maple, Austrian Pine, English Elm, Horse Chestnut, several Magnolias and a Sycamore Maple, the latter near the middle of the grass oval. Purple Beech, White Pine and two Hemlocks stand at the west exit.

Lindens at Spot
On the North Ave. side of the station is an interesting clump of three Lindens – no two alike. Evergreens are represented by three Scotch Pines, an Austrian and a White Pine, and a tall, slender Spruce. In this little park are also Sugar Swamp and Silver Maples, and a clump of low-growing Beeches. Looking upward to the railroad level, one sees, besides the specimen Ginko mentioned, two Catalpas, a Weeping Mulberry, two Red Maples and an Austrian Pine. A big Pin Oak, two or three Scarlet Oaks, a . . . .

. . . boats glided over Green Brook and when Plainfield and New York social leaders came in big carriages, drawn by spanking teams, to garden musicals, gay dinners, dances and teas as the Johnston's guests.

All of Plainfield's school grounds are constantly growing more attractive. Environment of vines, trees, plants and shrubs awaken appreciation of Nature's beauty that is a lifelong source of pleasure.

Hubbard School, one of the city's architectural gems, has always been regarded as in a class by itself. Its beauty is greatly enhanced by choice plant material on its ample grounds, partly framed by Barberry. Large specimen Japanese Yews arrest attention, along with Sourwoods, or "Lily-of-the-Valley Tree," whose branches bear long one-sided racemes of white flowers in summer and whose leaves are vivid scarlet in autumn.

White Pine, Cedar, Pfitzer Junipers are shadowy evergreen foils for airy bloom of Weeping Japanese . . .

Among them are the old Elms in North Ave., mentioned before; London Planes from Watchung Ave. to Terrill Rd.; Ash in St. Mary's Ave.; Pin Oaks and Planes in Park Ave.; Sycamore Maples in Bellevue Ave.; Norway Maples in both Leland and Monroe Ave. sections. Tulip trees now grow in Central St., along Maxon School grounds, and Ginkos in Landsdowne Terr. In Cleveland Ave., near Grace Church, the lacy foliage of the decorative Mountain Ash, or Rowan Tree, contrasts at this season with bunches of bright hollylike berries. Many years ago the late Simeon Cruikshank planted Buckeyes along his corner property ["Sacmoore" 831 Belvidere] at Belvidere and Watchung Aves. Much smaller than familiar Horse Chestnut and with brighter pink flower-spikes they have always been greatly admired. In autumn the brilliant, scarlet, star-shape leaves of Liquid-ambar, or Sweetgum, glorifies a patch of Ravine Rd. After a shower, or if bruised, the foliage is fragrant. Corky bark and thorny-skinned fruit like little apples, complete this tree's unique characteristics.

Close to 150 trees, of many species, are part of the Muhlenberg Hospital landscape. The long front path beneath the Maples, and on the west the wide Elm-bordered stretch of green lawn leading to a quiet pool, with its amusing little bronze fountain figure, form two vistas of ever-increasing charm. Wide borders of intermingling trees and flowering shrubs frame the property.

The purple leaves of the two Schwedler Maples attract much attention in the spring. So do the Apple trees and Dogwoods that trim the grounds like big bouquets, set off by Hemlocks, Spruce and Pine. Chinese Dogwoods, given by graduate nurses, are especially prized. Devoted interest of the late Marie Louis, nature-lover and for years superintendent of Muhlenberg, helped turn once common-plant "grounds" into a tree-shaded garden spot both restful and diverting.

Dogwood Favorites
Native Dogwoods are favorites among the city's flowering trees. The Plainfield Garden Club, on its own recent 25th birthday, gave small grove of these "Jewels of the Forest" to Cedar Brook Park. On the T. H. Van Bosckerck grounds on Prospect Ave. is the handsome large group of Dogwoods on private property in town. On Dr. Elmer Weigel's lawn on Belvidere Ave [630 Belivdere – see Mrs. Joost]. Chinese Dogwood bears much larger and later blooms. Directly across the street from this, and close to the sidewalk, a low-growing Witch Hazel (Hamanelis) bears yellow Forsythia-like flowers in winter.

Before the Talmadge dwelling [714 Belvidere], in the the same street, are majestic Copper Beeches. In early days Beeches were popular selections for large grounds. Probably the finest Weeping Beech in the city grows in deserted grounds in Central Ave. Nearby on the Witon property is a huge Purple Beech – both almost perfect. Farther down the avenue, on Wardlaw School grounds [1030 Central Avenue - see Below], is a fine old Ginko.

The only Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in Plainfield is owned by former Mayor Leighton Calkins [929 Madison – see Below]. Its strange trunk and heart-shaped leaves, purplish when young, are unusual. It grows in front of the house in Madison Ave.

Unique among Plainfield trees is a native Orange of the South. it is today laden with velvety, green fruit in Mrs. Howard Tracy's Prospect Ave. garden [1331 Prospect Ave]. Probably nowhere else in this region can one be found, according to Shade Tree Commissioner Lithgow Hunter. Sent north from Maryville College in Tennessee 50 years ago. . . .

. . . residents seeking permanent homes. These officials have always planned with the Shade Tree Commission since its organization, so that every year more trees come marching in. Some fill vacancies in the ranks of old trees along old streets. Others shade tireless blocks in new sections of town.

For the last 17 years, one man, Sidney Durant, the Shade Tree Commission's expert supervisor of trees, has directed its work. it includes feeding, pruning, watering and repairing the city's 25,000 street trees, as well removal of dead or too-badly-injured trees and planting new ones. For nearly 20 years Thomas F. Hylan has served on the commission, of which he is now president.

Of all the city's trees, the strange Ginko, or Maiden-hair tree, grows to a height of 80 feet or so. The delicacy of its little leaves, resembling those of the Maiden-Hair fern, contrast sharply with the arrow-straight upswept branches of what is considered one of the most beautiful and unusual of all hardy exotic trees. The Ginko's origin is a mystery. Nowhere on earth is it been found wild, yet fossils prove it was once scattered all over the world. Nothing else today resembles the Ginko, so paleontologists reason that some series of misfortunes destroyed all missing links. Today's closest relative is the Yew family, thought at a glance they appear as unrelated as a Chines and a New England Yankee.

Planted Near Temples
Early explorers found Ginkos planted around Chinese and Japanese temples. The Chinese called in Yin-Hing – "Silver Apricot" – referring to the greenish-yellow, fleshy fruit having a single stone. This fruit, slightly roasted, was served throughout the formal Chinese dinners which lasted all day. Guests nibble the finlike fruit between courses as an aid to digestion.

The Ginko did not reach England until 1754. The first specimen in this country was planted in Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia. In 1889 the Ginko fruited for the first time there on the grounds of Charles Wister. fifty years ago these newcomers to America were not only scarce, but expensive. That Plainfield has so many beautiful old specimens of these trees is possibly due to the fact that John Taylor Johnston, then president of the New Jersey Central Railroad and a resident of this city, was not only a patron of the arts, but a lover of trees. Each of Plainfield's railroad station grounds had not only fine specimens of the Ginko, but also a varied collection of other trees, evidently selected by an expert.

Netherwood, nearest the Johnston home [see Below], was especially favored. Here, beside the north track, stands a regal Ginko, carefully located as an artist would plan his canvas, so that its top is etched against the sky. This emphasizes the beauty of leaf and branch and trunk as viewed from the eastbound station platform. ?? may see a younger . . .

. . . White Oak and Elms are among the trees fringing the western boundary.

"The property as a whole is a remarkable small arboretum," said a well-known visiting tree scientist recently, after inspecting the Netherwood station park. "In my travels I've seen no other railroad station grounds with such a variety of trees. This landscaping, too, I can see was done by an expert."

In employing such an expert to beautify the railroad property in his home town, Mr. Johnston was carrying out the spirit of the statement he made at the time the Metropolitan Museum of New York City was founded at his Fifth Ave. mansion. He was quoted as saying:

"The public ought to have a chance to see, to hear and to know more about whatever feeds the mind and is inspiring, if we are to have the best kind in America."

To even a novice in landscaping, the Netherwood station grounds show that underlying motive. One could not imagine either the south or north oval either diminished of enlarged – so true is their scale. It would be hard to find more beautiful flowering trees than those Magnolias; or more intriguing contrast of leaf, branch and trunk than offered by the Ginko and the Pine. On the north side the clump of Lindens, combined with an apparently outcropping "pudding stone," make a "garden composition" that suggest to the home gardener similar effective arrangements, though not necessarily identical in material.

Beautiful Estate
Some old residents recall that Mr. Johnston's estate in E. Front St. was lavishly beautified with choice trees, as were those of most of his neighbors along that splendid avenue of that day. Some of those estates are still being kept up as homes of their owners today, while others have been divided into beautiful setting for developments of small homes.

The Johnston estate, however, furnished the basis of another public development of beauty spots. A portion of it became the site of the new Barlow School [see Below]. These school grounds are said to be unequaled in the state in the variety and placement of superb trees. What some consider the finest Weeping Beech in town grows here, also two majestic evergreens, one a White Pine, the other a Spruce. Elm, Ginko, Cucumber tree, Ash, "Button Ball," Willow and Sugar Maple are also outstanding.

Two of the most interesting, although not the most conspicuous of the group, are a true English Oak (Quercus Robur) and a Yellow Wood (Cladrastis lute). The first has smallish leaves, thick-set upon the branch. A strange characteristic is that the stem adheres to the side of the acorn. The writer knows of only one other English Oak in town – Central Ave., near Stelle Ave.

The Yellow Wood has wisteria-like racemes of white fragrant flowers in midsummer. Leaves resemble the locust. Another fine specimen grows on the property of Miss Laura Detwiller in Hillside Ave.

All were here in the days . . . .

. . . when Cherry, Dogwood and Crab. In early spring the large leathery-leaved evergreen Japanese Andromeda (Pieris) unfold delicate, coppery leaves and waxy white racemes of tiny flowers. These are classified as shrubs, but on these favorable grounds, are almost small trees of exceptional beauty.

Preservation is Theme
The good judgement of George R. Zimmer, who for many years has supervised Plainfield's school grounds, is shown not only in what has already been accomplished, but in developments being planned. "What can we preserve?" not "What can we cut down?" is his motto. Before clearing the recently purchased grounds adjoining Maxon School was begun this summer, Mr. Zimmer marked every large and small tree that "might some day be of use somewhere." Workmen were warned to cut not one of these.

The City Police Headquarters and also the old Public Library have a setting of trees. The little Library Park is said to have been reserved from farmland whose native trees – mostly, Red, White and Black Oaks – were left standing. Across the facade of Fire Headquarters are a Ginko, a London Plane and Horse Chestnut – each an unusually fine specimen. Among Netherwood firemen are enthusiastic gardeners. Each spring many of Plainfield's 3,000 commuters take great interest in "what the boys are doing to their grounds." Everything planted seems to do well, even the peonies, marking the line between the firemen's parklike grounds and the railroad cinder-bed.

On spacious City Hall grounds is not only a variety of evergreens, but also of deciduous trees, selected for beauty of form, leaf or flower. Two Cryptomeria, "Aristocrats of Evergreens," donated recently by Plainfield's near-centenarian, Miss Isabel Tweedy, and a tall Himalayan Pine in town was brought here by the late Harry K. Tetsuka, to adorn his well-known Japanese garden in Belvidere Ave [556 Belvidere].

The Holly tree on City Hall grounds is another tree found on but few properties. It was donated by Herbert Moody [see Below], when The Courier-news gift of 5,000 bulbs roused a widespread interest in more beautiful grounds, in keeping with the architectural beauty of the building. Evergreens were given immediately by former Mayor Marion F. Ackerman, and a Dogwood by Thomas F. Hylan, whose keen interest in the property extends back to 25 years ago, when, as Councilman, he served on the City Hall Building Committee. This season former Councilman Orville G. Waring, son of the late Mayor Waring, donated several valuable Pfitzer Junipers.

Not Monotonous
Many species of trees planted along our city streets make green lanes that are not monotonous.

. . . . stood for most of that time in this sheltered nook. The fruits, when ripe, are decorative, but not edible. Edible oranges grown only on grafted stock. The thorny branches of this small tree resemble Osage Orange, or "Indian Bow-wood."

Figs are also ripening now in Plainfield. Within a stone's throw of Netherwood station is Watson Ave. It is only three blocks long and from spring to fall it glows with flowers. In one little garden grows a carefully tended Fig tree that bears fruit yearly. Each fall the owner buries his Fig tree in a deep trench well below the frost-line. Each spring it is dug out and reset.

One great wide-spreading Mulberry (Morus Multicaulus) towers far above the roof-top of Leslie R. Fort's home in Cedarbrook Rd. This venerable tree is the historic survivor of a Mulberry plantation, established during the "Multicaulus Mania," by the late Senator Martine [11 Brook Lane, see Below], as a venture to yield gigantic profits on his farm that included the Cedar Brook tract. He believed with others that New Jersey would be one of the world's silk-growing centers. Convinced that silk was to take the place of cotton, New Jersey farmers set out thousands of acres of "silk-worm mulberries" about 100 years ago, only to cut down the trees when the bubble burst.

One of the most varied private collection of trees in the city is that of Miss Jessie D. Munger in Prospect Ave. In recent years instructors at Rutgers University have brought students to these grounds to study the trees and other plant material as well as the garden design. Last spring the general public enjoyed the same privilege.

Love of trees is part of the tradition that has helped mould Plainfield into a city of pleasant homes on quiet streets. The late Jonas Lie, one of our city's most distinguished citizens, sensed this characteristic of our community. In the Common Council Chamber at City Hall hangs his gift – a mountain woodland scene, interpreted by his illustrious brush as an inspiring message to us all.

To learn more about the history of some of the people and places mentioned in this article, visit these links:

[Maxson School]
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15

[630 Belvidere]
Joost, Mrs. Sherman Brownell (Marie Murray) '19

[714 Belvidere]
Dunbar, Mrs. William Kuhn '17
Rock, Mrs. Robert B. '43
Runkle, Mrs. Harry Godley (Jennie Fitz Randolph) '15
Whitehead, Mrs. James Harold (Jean Fitz-Randolph Heiberg) '43

[1030 Central Avenue – duCret School]
Huntington, Mrs. Howard (Agnes Fales Strong) '19
McGee, Mrs. Walter Miller (Mary Alice Yerkes) '22
Zerega, Miss Bertha Virginia '23

[929 Madison Avenue]
Ackerman, Mrs. Marion S.(Sarah M. Wills) '35

[Johnston Estate on Front Street & Netherwood]
Mali, Mrs. Pierre (Frances Johnston) '18

[Barlow School East front Street – former estate of "Blojocamavi" owned by Lewis V. Fitz Randolph/Johnston estate]
Barlow, Mrs. Carlton Montague (June Simms) '70
Barlow, Mrs. DeWitt Dukes (Mary Lee Brewer), Jr. '65
Dunbar, Mrs. William K., Jr. (Elizabeth or "Libby" Hail Barlow) '47
Perkins, Mrs. Seymour, Jr. (Esther Moody Barlow) '49
(Also see Mrs. Runkle and Mrs. Whitehead above)

[City Hall]
Moody, Mrs. George T. '22
Perkins, Mrs. Seymour, Jr. (Esther Moody Barlow) '49

[11 Brook Lane, Martine House]
MacLeod, Mrs. Robert F. (Carolyn Waring) '55

1941 Courier-News Plainfield Merits Classification as 'City of Beautiful Trees'

1941 Courier-News Plainfield Merits Classification as 'City of Beautiful Trees'

Thursday, June 19, 2008 Greg Palermo's Tree Blog

Native American fringetrees are little-known and neglected beauties. They're hard to find. Fringetrees are so few and far between in Plainfield that the poor, solitary things can't even reproduce. Female fringetrees produce a crop of beautiful blue berries in the fall, but to do that they need a male close enough to provide pollen. I have never seen a single berry on a Plainfield fringetree.

The native fringetree above, which was also pictured in my June 2 posting, is at 653 Ravine Road.

The Ravine Road fringetree used to be the focus of an annual spring celebration complete with poetry recitations until it broke off at the ground about ten years ago. Its owners, Jean Mattson and the late Norman (Moose) Mattson, brought it back from a hollow stump by cutting away all but a few of the hundreds of sprouts that grew up from the wreckage over the space of a few years. The sprouts that were allowed to grow reconstituted an attractive multistemmed tree. I wish it a long (second) life.

How do I know that these two fringetrees are the native species, Chionanthus virginicus, rather than the beautiful Chinese import, Chionanthus retusus? I happened to be at the Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha's Vineyard for a lecture last weekend when both species of fringetree were in bloom there. I was able to take photographs permitting a comparison. The most easily recognizable difference is in the bark. The Chinese tree's bark, pictured below, is deeply furrowed, while the American's is relatively smooth.

I have not seen any Chinese fringetrees in Plainfield. Clearly there is a niche available here for both of these species of Chionanthus.

(1) The rarity of fringetrees can inspire deviant behavior in susceptible subjects. Plainfield tree lady Barbara Sandford took me trespassing into the backyard of a house on Sleepy Hollow Lane to see one in bloom a few weeks back. (I place the blame for this transgression entirely on her.)

Copyright Gregory Palermo

653 Ravine Road Greg Palermo's Tree Blog June 2, 2008

Other trees in flower in Plainfield now include fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus. The tree pictured above is at 653 Ravine Road.

The Daily Messenger December 10, 1963

Former CA Latin Teacher Named To Who's Who

Mrs. Garret (Florence Cavanaugh) Smith, of Plainfield, N.J., a native of Ionia and former Latin teacher at Canandaigua Academy, has been named to Who's Who of American Women, a biographical dictionary of notable living American women.

Mrs. Smith, who is 87 years of age, is [tire] widow of Garret Smith lo which she was married in 1909. She has been interested in horticulture, conservation and beautification and has received a number of honors for her work in these fields.

She was the organizer of The Plainfield Beautification Committee in 1933 and was a member of the committee for 17 years. She was the only woman director of The New Jersey Federation of Shade Tree Commissions. In 1934 she founded The little Gardens Club in New York- City and has been its Honorary president since 1912. She has served as program director, member of the board of directors and is an honorary member of the Plainfield Garden Club and an honorary life member of The New Jersey Arborists Association. She has also designed and executed medals for The Garden Club of New Jersey and the N.J. Federation of Garden Clubs. A graduate of Geneseo State Normal School in 1897, she also attended Cornell University, Columbia University and Cooper Union.

The New York Sun, Saturday, March 31, 1934


The Plainfield Garden Club tied with the Garden Club of East Orange for first place in competition among the Federated Garden Clubs of New Jersey in the twenty-first international flower show, held last week in the Grand Central Palace. Each club won 2,642 points. The Garden Club of Bound Brook and that of Montclair won second and third place, respectively.

The Garden Club of Plainfield carried off six blue, thirteen red and four yellow ribbons.

Mrs. Garret Smith's original poem "Aprils's Mirror," written for this occasion and arranged for illustration by Mrs. Frederic W. Goddard and Mrs. James Devlin received the second award.

November 30, 2013 Florence Smith and Plainfield's Trees

November 30, 2013

One PGC Member that we have not discussed at length is Mrs. Garret Smith who joined the Club in 1927. Mrs. Smith, a member of the PGC for 43 years, was a renowned horticulturalist with a radio program broadcast nationally twice a week. She designed the Garden Club of New Jersey's emblem, was an author and wrote many newspaper and magazine articles – always drawing on Plainfield for her examples.

This week, an article she wrote on trees in 1941, was discovered with Barbara Sandford's memorabilia. Barbara had saved this article no doubt as she assumed the role of Plainfield tree advocate when Mrs. Smith passed away in 1970. In this particular article, Mrs. Smith reports on the variety and rarity of the many trees in Plainfield. She explains why Plainfield has so many trees and why so many of them are special – because the early Plainfield residents were very enthusiastic gardeners.

Moving forward some 67 odd years, another Plainfield resident began to notice the interesting Plainfield trees. Greg Palermo kept a blog about his findings and it comes as no surprise that the greater percentage of trees he used for examples in his blog, were trees found in PGC members' gardens. (Since we had not yet opened our archives, it is doubtful that Mr. Palermo knew this.) His blog gives credence to Mrs. Smith's assertion that the early residents of Plainfield were keen botanists and tree-huggers.

And of course it must be noted, that the two chroniclers of Plainfield trees – one in 1941 and the other in 2008 – both knew Barbara Sandford.

Detwiller blueprints 132 Crescent Avenue

August 8, 2015

Library offers trove of vintage Plainfield home blueprints for sale

Plainfield homeowners and history buffs are getting a one-of-a-kind opportunity as the Plainfield Public Library prepares to offer upwards of 3,000 blueprint originals from its Detwiller Collection for sale to the public.

The blueprints offered for sale are part of a trove of many thousands recovered from a dumpster at City Hall by the late Plainfield architect and artist Charles Detwiller.

While many of Plainfield's grand homes and mansion are among the blueprints (though fewer than originally, owing to some 'fingering' before strict controls were put in place), the appeal of the collection will be stronger for those who live in or admire the more modest vintage homes from the turn of the 20th century to the World War II era.

These homes include many classic Tudors and other 'cottage' and 'revival' styles, as well as 'foursquares', ranches and Cape Cods and more contemporary stules.

These represent the bulk of Plainfield's building stock from its most expansive period and they were often enough improved or expanded – giving rise to the need for plans showing the original building and the proposed alterations to be filed with the City's inspections department.

It is those blueprints, which have now been cataloged and digitized, that are being offered for sale. In library parlance, they have been de-accessioned, meaning that they no longer need be kept permanently by the Library and are available for dispostion to private parties.

The Library has a portal to the Charles Detwiller Blueprint Collection on its website (see here) and has made a complete list of the blueprints for sale also available online (see here).

The list is alphabetized by street name, and then number. However, I would advise reading the Library's instructions closely so you make the proper notations for your request (see here) – easing the staff's task in finding the item(s) in which you are interested. Paying attention to the suggested time frames needed and numbers of items per request will help you avoid headaches. So, please read and follow the instructions carefully – as carpenters like to say, 'measure twice, cut once'.

The sale will run from September 1 to November 13, 2015 in a two-step process –

You check the offerings to find items that interest you, making careful notations; and

You and the Library work out a pick-up appointment, at which you will be able to view the actual items and make a final decision on your purchase.

Single-page blueprints are priced at $50 each and multiple-page sets at $100. Cash or credit cards are fine, but the Library will not accept personal checks.

Proceeds of the sale will be used to finance the further digitization of the blueprint collection – meaning that we can look forward to another offering of materials at some future point.

The Detwiller Collection is absolutely unique in its size and scope, covering decades of Plainfield history and thousands of buildings throughout the city. Plainfield residents owe Charlie Detwiller a debt of gratitude for his perspicacity that cannot be repaid.

And we owe a debt of gratitude to Library Director Joe Da Rold for the vision that saw in these rescued documents an invaluable resource for the community, and devised means and methods of ensuring these fragile records would be available to Plainfield residents permanently through having them digitized.

Mr. Detwiller is the late husband of PGC Honorary member Cath Detwiller. Mr. Detwiller's Aunt Laura was a long-time member of the PGC and a very talented botanical artist. Read about the Detwiller family here:

Detwiller, Mrs. Charles H. (Catherine or "Cath" Campbell), Jr. '57

Detwiller, Miss Laura Cecelia '29

And Mr. Detwiller's in-laws:

Campbell, Mrs. William Hall (Mabel C. Raper) '28

Davis, Mrs. F. Edgar (Dorothy or "Dottie" Campbell) '60