Plainfield Garden Club

Member: Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15

1919 Address: 426 West 7th Street, Plainfield

1922 Address: 426 West 7th Street

1929 Treasurer Book Active $5.00 (Not listed in the 1928 Treasurer Book)

1932 Directory*: Not Listed
* = This directory is not dated but presumed to be from the year 1932.

Stillman Virgina Brown Mrs. Albert Leeds 1941
Stillman Ethel Lucille Titsworth Mrs. William M. 1942
Griswold Mary Vic or Victoria Stevens Mrs. Merton 1944

Elizabeth B. Atwood Stillman

Founding Member 1915

Membership List for the Stillman ladies and their addresses:

Stillman Mrs. Albert L. 1941 73 Leland Ave, Plainfield (1958)

Stillman (Elizabeth B. Atwood) Mrs. William M. 1915 1953 436 West 7th Street, Plainfield (1910)

Stillman Mrs. William M. 1942 426 West 7th Street, Plainfield (1958)

Smithsonian Documentation on Golestan

Golestan 1915-2005
Landscape architect: Shiota, Takeo
Provenance: Plainfield Garden Club
Physical description: 1 folder+ 6 35 mm. slides
Type: Mixed archival materials
Place: New Jersey
Golestan (Plainfield, New Jersey)
Date: 1915
Topic: Gardens
Gardening in the shade
Japanese gardens
Local number: NJ489000
Notes: Named after a poem by Saadi entitled "Gulistan," the name means "garden of flowers." The property was purchased in 1907 by Phiroz D. Saklatvala when he served as the Persian consul-general. He remodeled the existing farmhouse and created an Italian garden in front of the house, but his main effort was the creation of a Japanese garden. Saklatvala commissioned Takeo Shiota to design a garden out of flat farmland and brook using Japanese craftsmen. The Green Brook was diverted by a low dam and led into several waterways, flowing around two small islands connected by seven bridges, each copying a different arch. Little hills represented mountains with hundreds of planted flowering shrubs and flowers. The garden included a memorial statue for Saklatvala's mother of a Japanese girl carved in 1691. The workers dug out a a natural cascading swimming pool in 1924 and built a two story pagoda to serve as a bathhouse. The gardens were part of a fledgling movie industry in the early 1900s. Portions of "Madame Butterfly," starring Mary Pickford, as well as "Greater Love Hath No Man", "Broken Fetters," and "A Lesson From the Far East" were photographed in the gardens. The only architectural elements that remain today are a Shinto gate at the entrance to the garden, and the ruins of a teahouse across the brook and no longer part of the property
Persons associated with the property include: Phiroz D. Saklatvala (former owner, ca. 1907-1930); Stillman family (former owners, ca. 1930-1970); Stillman Gardens, Inc. (present owners); and Takeo Shiota (landscape architect, ca. 1910-1920)
Summary: The folder includes a work sheet, newspaper article copies and site map
Data Source: Archives of American Gardens

Darlene Kasten's photograph of Golestan 2005

Mary Pickford at Golestan 1915 in Madame Butterfly

Golestan 1916

Mrs. Albert L. Stillman '41

Listed in the membership and believed to be Mrs. William M. Stillman's daughter-in-law.

Mr. William M. Stillman,

William M. Stillman was the son of Charles H. and Mary E. (Starr) Stillman.

William M. Stillman was the grandson of Albertus and Betsey (Lampheer) Stillman.

William M. Stillman was the great-grandson of Jesse Starr, Sergeant Third Conn. Line

Dr. Charles H. Stillman

Mr. Charles H. Stillman was Mrs. William M. Stillman's father-in-law.

In the 19th Century, Plainfield was at the forefront of early public education in New Jersey. Plainfield had one of the very first public schools in the state, as a result of a law in 1848 that established a "free school open to all and supported by taxation." This was the first such law to be found in the New Jersey statutes. The first high school in Union County was built in Plainfield. Dr. Charles H. Stillman and Mr. Elston Marsh led the efforts to provide free education to the youth of Plainfield. Stillman was elected the first Plainfield Superintendent of Schools in 1847. That year he opened two schools in Plainfield, one was in a cabinet shop and the other was in a hat shop.

To learn more about Dr. Stillman, click: Plainfield Library Archives

May 1, 1892 New York Times Obituary for Mrs. Stillman's infamous brother-in-law

Stillman Family at the home of Thomas Stillman, Plainfield 1860

Doctor Charles Henry Stillman, Mayor of Plainfield

Elizabeth B. Atwood Stillman Dies June 28, 1929

William Maxson Stillman
Born: 23 Nov 1856
Place: Plainfield, NJ
Died: 1 Mar 1937
Place: Naples, Italy
Married:1) Elizabeth B. Atwood
Born: 15 May 1861
Place: Plainfield, NJ
Died: 28 Jun 1929
Place: Plainfield, NJ
Date Married: 3 Oct 1887
Married:2) Ethel Lucile Titsworth
Born: 17 Oct 1880
Place: Plainfield, NJ
Died: 19 Oct 1965
Place: Plainfield, NJ
Date Married: 2 Jul 1930

September 24, 1992 New York Times article on Sousa's Band in Plainfield

PLAINFIELD JOURNAL; Sousa's Band Is 100. So Is the Plan of Celebration.
Published: September 24, 1992

PLAINFIELD, N.J.– THE Stillman Music Hall, built in 1884, is long gone, extracted like a decayed tooth from the 200 block of West Front Street almost 40 years ago to make room for the city's first municipal parking lot.

What was once its narrow facade is now a grassy gap between Albert's Record Shop and the abandoned Nelson's Active Wear Center, a reminder of the popular but clumsy urban renewal policies of a generation or more ago that failed to rejuvenate the business district.

But there is history on this spot, served up in one of those delicious little accidents of fate that create momentary excitement and sometimes lasting, if increasingly distant, notoriety for a city or town: a fierce battle (Antietam), a terrible flood (Johnstown), or, in the case at hand, the debut of Sousa's Band (Plainfield).

On Sept. 26, 1892, John Philip Sousa arrived here by rail, having resigned as director of the Marine Band and taken up the baton in front of the 60-member concert band bearing his name. It was the start of what would be more than a million miles of touring until the band dissolved at his death in 1932.

But why Plainfield?

"This was the city of 100 millionaires," said Barbara Fuller, president of the Plainfield Historical Society, who, with another trustee, Nancy Piwowar, helped prepare for a Sousa centennial gala this Saturday that has grown to include 15 bands, Sousa's biographer, Sousa interpreters, Sousa's family and Sousa groupies. "The railroad came out here and opened everything up. It was a big deal social town. But no. Nobody really knows why Plainfield."

And why the excitement?

"It's the inauguration of the most famous concert band in all of history," said Keith Brion, a former director of bands at Yale University who since 1980 has researched and recorded Sousa's music and portrayed him on the podium.

"It marks almost the beginning of bands in America," he said. "It influenced all the school bands and all the college bands. Sousa's Band carried forward the legacy of the Civil War bands and municipal bands. And out of Sousa came the growth of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops."

There are no photographs or programs of the debut, which began an 80-city tour from Michigan to Maine that lasted until Dec. 11, 1892, when the band played in New York. But newspaper accounts suggest it was fairly typical early Sousa, starting with Rossini's overture from "Semiramide," ending with "The Star-Spangled Banner" and piling Wagner, Schubert, Donizetti and Sousa in between.

"In his time, the concert band was the vehicle for exposing people to music both good and bad," said Sousa's biographer, Paul Bierley. "How many symphony orchestras were there? Maybe six or seven. How many concerts did they play? One or two a week, all in the same city.

"Sousa played two a day, in different cities, all over the United States. He exposed people to really good music: Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven."

Though a violinist by training, with a vast knowledge of the classics, Sousa was never shy about his role as March King. Well aware of what his audience wanted, he alternated Wagner's "Tannhauser" overture, for example, with Sousa's "High School Cadets," "The Washington Post" or any other of the 136 marches he wrote.

Frederick Fennell, who conducted and recorded dozens of Sousa marches with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, said Sousa and his managers were shrewd promoters, but there was more. "I can't think of anybody in history who was more in the right place at the right time than Sousa," Mr. Fennell said.

"It was the right time, the time of the amusement park, and the train that took you to that park, and Sousa was part of that thing that you'd go to hear."

Mr. Fennell, who plans to attend the daylong Sousa concert at Green Brook Park on Saturday, is scheduled to conduct one of Sousa's most famous marches, "Semper Fidelis."

"I've been planning for four years to show up, even if they didn't have anything," said Mr. Fennell, who played percussion under Sousa at the National High School Orchestra and Band Camp in Interlochen, Mich., in 1931.

Sousa's success, Mr. Brion said, spawned many imitators, some of whom knew so little about Sousa or conducting that they foolishly tried to imitate his style after 1920, when he was thrown by a horse and lost full use of his left arm.

"It caused him to flop his arm at his side," Mr. Brion said. "Others picked it up, thinking it was the way to conduct a band like Sousa's."

At the Drake House Museum, an 18th-century house here that served as George Washington's headquarters in 1777, the historical society has mounted an exhibition of Sousa memorabilia, including a pair of the white kid gloves he conducted with and a saxophone used by one of his band members. Captured stiffly by the camera, the young Sousa and the old Sousa seem unhappily and thoroughly muted by everything from radio to MTV that pushed popular entertainment away from the concert band.

His operettas, love songs and other pieces of program music are nearly all forgotten, and marches are not always in fashion. But Sousa marches, his admirers say, maintain their hold on the band world and the public.

"Sousa always said his music came from a higher power," Mr. Bierley said. "But inspired simplicity is why they were more successful than others. Not cluttered like the German marches, not stuffy like the English, not full of bugles like the French marches. And when they got to the end, they said, 'By God, this is the end.' "

Photo: At the Drake House in Plainfield, N.J., the historical society is exhibiting memorabilia from the 60-piece-band man, John Philip Sousa. (John Sotomayor/The New York Times) Map of New Jersey showing location of Plainfield.

August 26, 1894 New York Times article

Referenced Dr. Charles Stillman
and the Stillman Music Hall

Plainfield City of Homes

February 9, 1902 New York Times article

Plainfield Music Hall Sold

PLAINFIELD, N.J., Feb. 8 – Music Hall, Plainfield's only play house, was sold today by William H. Stillman, the owner, to S. Butterfield, a theatrical man of New York, formerly of Columbus, Ohio. Alterations, at a cost of $50,000, are to be made at once, and the theater will be open early in the Summer.

NOTE: It is not known how Mr. William H. Stillman is related to Mr. William M. Stillman, the husband of two Plainfield Garden Club ladies.

Stillman's Music Hall, Proctor's Theatre, Oxford Theatre

Also known as Stillman's Music Hall, Proctor's Theatre
Add to favoritesOxford Theatre
Plainfield, NJ
216 W. Front Street, Plainfield, NJ 07060 United States(map)
Status: Closed/Demolished
Screens: Single Screen
Style: Unknown
Function: Unknown
Seats: 1630
Chain: Unknown
Architect: Unknown
Firm: Unknown

Open since at least 1914 as Proctor's Theatre, this theatre changed names to the Oxford Theatre and is listed as such in the 1951 Film Daily Yearbook.

By 1920 it was showing movies.

It was demolished in the mid-2000's

Stillman Gardens

Pictured is another large Paulownia on Leland Avenue in front of Stillman Gardens

2009 from Gregory Palmermo's Plainfield Tree Blog

William M. Stillman

First National Bank, chartered April 25, 1864, shortly after the establishment of the National Bank Act, numbered hatters among the businessmen on its Board of Directors. Front row, left to right, William McDowell Coriell (hatter), Phineas M. French (mill owner), Charles Potter, President; second row, Frank Runyon, Cashier, Daniel R. Randolph (merchant), William M. Stillman, Mulford Estil, J. Wesley Johnston. These names echo throughout Plainfield's history, Courtesy of PNC Bank

from Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architectureby John Grady and Dorothe Pollard

Gardens of Phiroz Saklatvala by Takeo Shiota: Gulestan

From Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architecture by John Grady and Dorothe Pollard

1. Birches, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and ferns frame a pagoda in the gardens of Phiroz Sakatvala, Persian Consul General, at East Front Street and Leland Avenue. Saklatvala purchased the Leland family acreage in 1907, turning farmland into an oriental paradise. Under the guidance of architect Takeo Shiota, who later designed the Japanese garden at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, the Green Brook was diverted into several branches, flowing around two islands connected by seven bridges, one of which replicated the scared bridge at Nikko. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Plainfield

2. Ancient stone Fu dogs and a stone lantern guard the path to a scared shrine at Saklatvala's "Gulestan" (Garden of flowers) In this setting, Mary Pickford honors her ancestors in a scene from the 1915 film "Madame Butterfly," produced by Famous Players, later known as Paramount Pictures. Was this the first location shoot to take place in the Plainfields? Possibly, but it would not be the last. A precedent had been set. Cinematographers continue to be attracted to the area, most recently fro the movie "Kinsey" in 2003. Courtesy of the Plainfield Public Library – Plainfield, New Jersey

3. The rays of the setting sun trace a path across the Green Brook, highlighting the Saklatvala-Stillman home. The scene is prophetic. The site where Madame Butterfly fulfilled her selfless destiny gave way to the brick and masonry of an apartment complex called Stillman Gardens in 1962. Courtesy of the Plainfield Public Library – Plainfield, New Jersey

Stillman Gardens

From Plainfield, New Jersey's History & Architecture by John Grady & Dorothe Pollard

1. Old sepia-toned photographs cause historians and preservationists to catch their breath. What has been discovered that will recall a moment from the past? The mode of dress suggests the 1930s, the period when Virginia and Albert Stillman purchased the Saklatvala estate. One scene features the Fu dogs near the site of Pickford's performance, and from there, the path to the major portion of the Japanese garden extends over a bridge to the North Plainfield bank of the stream at the rear of the five acre property. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Plainfield

2. The scene changes. A companion photograph surveys a vista of massive entrance gates, lawn, abundant roses, a lily pond, and elegant garden furnishings, part of the Italian gardens at the front of the Saklatvala mansion on the Plainfield side of the Green Brook. The ambiance is now European formality, befitting the approach to a remodeled farmhouse of impressive dimensions. These are the gardens watered by the Green Brook three quarters of a century ago. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Plainfield

Charles Stillman Horse and Sulky

Title: Recalling the sulky, ca. 1880.
Publication Date: February 21, 2010
Photographer: Guillermo Thorn
Description: A photo from 1880 of a horse with a rider on a sulky. A sulky is a light-weight cart with two wheels and a seat for the driver. It was used for harness races. The horse and sulky in this photo belonged to Charles H. Still man. The name of the rider is not known. Stillman helped lead the efforts to provide free education to the youth of Plainfield. He was elected the first Plainfield Superintendent of Schools in 1847 and opened two schools in Plainfield that year. The Charles H. Stillman Elementary School on West Fourth and Arlington Avenues was named in his honor.

Plainfield Library Archives

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

November 13, 1940
Penciled in above her name is "Living Now"

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

Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens

Plainfield by John A. Grady and Dorothe M. Pollard

In 1907, Persian consul general Phiroz D. Saklatvala purchased his Leland Avenue estate remodeling an old farmhouse and transforming the grounds. The spectacular result was Gulestan (Garden of Flowers), designed by renowned architect Takeo Shioto, who designed the New York Botanical Gardens. This bridge over the brook duplicates the Japanese imperial family's sacred bridge at Nikko, Japan. Today, a contemporary co-op complex is enhanced by the vision of the former owner.

426 West Seventh Street

Plainfield Library

G-522 1934 Y Grimstead House at 426 West Seventh Street 426 West 7th Street Queen Anne style with semicircular fish-scale shingles and frieze in front gable over sleeping porch, wrap-around porch, garage and small greenhouse at left rear.

William Maxson Stillman Obituary -- 1937

The Trenton Evening Times, March 3, 1937:

Plainfield, NJ, March 3.- Word has been received here of he death Monday of William Maxson Stillman, of this city, at a hospital in Naples, Italy. Mr. Stillman was dean of the Plainfield Bar Association and third oldest member of the Union County Bar Association. His age was 81, and death was due to pneumonia.

Mr. Stillman, was accompanied by his wife, Ethel Stillman and her sister, Mrs. Frank J. Hubbard, sailed February 10 on a Mediterranean cruise, planning to be away six weeks.

He was born in Plainfield, a son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Charles H. Stillman. His father, a physician, was founder of the Plainfield public school system. Mr. Stillman practiced law here fifty-seven years. He was graduated from Plainfield High School in 1872, received an engineering degree from Rutgers in 1877 and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1880, three years after receiving his law degree at Columbia University.

Thomas Bliss Stillman

The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, Vol. 7, No. 9, Page 804:



Thomas B. Stillman, late Professor of Engineering Chemistry at the Stevens Institute of Technology, died at his home in Jersey City, NJ on August 10, 1915, from heart disease after an illness of about four weeks.

Dr. Stillman was born in Plainfield, NJ on May 24, 1852, and was a son of the late Dr. Charles H. and Mary Elizabeth Stillman. His early training was obtained in Plainfield, and after attending Alfred University, Alfred, NY for a short time, he entered Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ and was graduated in June, 1873, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. His graduating thesis on "The Composition of the Ashes of Plants" was awarded a thesis prize, and was published in the "Report of the State Geologist of New Jersey, 1873," He then entered a post-graduate course in chemistry at the New Jersey State Scientific School, and at the same time was connected with the New Jersey State Geologic Survey, with practical work at the zinc mines of Sussex County.

In 1874, Dr. Stillman was appointed private assistant to the late professor Albert R. Leeds, of Stevens Institute of Technology, remaining in this position until October, 1876. In the latter year he received the degree of Master in Science from Rutgers College, and in November of the same year he entered the chemical laboratory of Dr. R. Fresenius of Wiesbaden, Germany, as a student of analytical chemical research. While in this laboratory he laid the solid foundations for his future very successful and splendid analytical and engineering work, and as a recognition of some investigations upon the salts of uranium carried out in this laboratory, Dr. Stillman was elected a foreign corresponding member of the Edinburgh Society of Arts and Sciences.

In 1879, he opened an office in New York City for the practice of analytical chemistry. In connection with his professional….

Rest is on another page that was not available online.

November 14, 1895 New York Times


In Aid of Muhlenberg Hospital – Good Attendance and Reason for Expecting Financial Success – The Booths.

PLAINFIELD, N. J., Nov. 13 – There was a grand opening of the kirmess at the Columbia Cycle Academy Monday night, and the building was decorated very elaborately.

Not since the charity ball have the society fold here been interested in a like event for such a worthy cause. The kirmess is given for the benefit of Muhlenberg Hospital, and, judging from the attendance at the opening night, the hospital will be greatly bettered financially.

Booths have been very prettily arranged about the academy, making an exceedingly tasty show. The equipment of the booths is as follows:

French Booth – Mrs. Albert Hoffman Atterbury, Mrs. Irving H. Brown, Mrs. Charles B. Corwin, Miss Bessie Ginna, Mrs. George C. Evans, Mrs. Charles J. Fisk, Mrs. Ellis W. Hedges, Miss E. E. Kenyon and Miss Whiton.

Florentine Booth – Mrs. I. N. Van Sickle, Mrs. David E. Titsworth, Mrs. W. M. Stillman, Mrs. John D. Titsworth, Mrs. F. A. Dunham, Miss Louise Clawson, Miss Bessie TItsworth, and Mrs. Lulu Lewis.

Gypsy Booth – Mrs. Joseph W. Reinhart, and Mrs. Howard Fleming.

Venetian Booth – Mrs. Hugh Hastings, Miss Emelie Schipper, Mrs. George A. Chapman, Miss Havbiland, Mrs. Samuel Huntingont, Mrs. Emil Woltman, Mrs. Samuel St. J. McCutchen, Mrs. Conklin, Mrs. C. S. West, Mrs. W. E. Lower, Miss E. R. Cock, Mrs. Frank O. Herring, Miss Huntington, Miss Maud Van Bosckerck, Miss MacCready, Miss Clara D. Finley, Miss Ahrens, Miss Aynne MacCready, Miss Mondanari, Miss Graff, Miss Yerkes, Miss Gertrude Walz, and Miss Pierson.

Japanese Booth – Mrs. Charles Seward Foote, Mrs. George Clay, Mrs. S.P. Simpson, Mrs. L. Finch, Mrs. Constantine P. Ralli, Mrs. William Lewis Brown, Mrs. L. Dennis, Mrs. WIlliam Pelletier, Miss Ellis, Miss Anthony, Miss Dryden, Miss Morgan, Miss Bowen, Miss Lawrence, and Miss Rodman.

Spanish Booth – Mrs. S. A. Cruikshank, Mrs. A. T. Slauson, Mrs. J. F. Wichers, Mrs. T. H. Curtis, Mrs. Marion S. Ackerman, Mrs. T. A. Hazell, Mrs. H. L. Moore, Mrs. D. T. Van Buren, Mrs. E. H. Mosher, Miss Harriott, Miss Louise Patton, Miss Maud Lord, Miss May Kirkner, Miss Louise Van Zandt, Miss Annie Horton, Miss Titsworth, and Miss Meredith.

German Booth – Mrs. Mason W. Tyler, Mrs. Logan Murphy, Mrs. John H. Oarman, Mrs. Charles J. Taggart, Mrs. Benjamin R. Western, Mrs. J. E. Turill, Mrs. Arthur T. Gallup, Mrs. Horsley Barker, Mrs. John Haviland, Mrs. George Wright, Mrs. Amra Hamragan, Mrs. William L. Saunders, Mrs. William Wright, Miss Annie Murphy, Miss Wright, Miss Western, Miss Bartling, Miss Helen Warman, Miss Emma Adams and Miss Ann Thorne.

Stationery Booth – Mrs. John Gray Foster, Mrs. Elliott Barrows, Mrs. A. W. Haviland, Mrs. John D. Miller, Mrs. James R. Joy, and Miss Emily R. Tracy.

Parisian Flower Stall – Mrs. Harry M. Stockton, Mrs. Evarts Tracy, Mrs. Daniel F. Ginna, Mrs. W. H. Ladd, Mrs. Frederick Yates, Miss Marlon Dumont, Miss Ginna, Miss Baker, Miss Huntington, and Miss Van Bosckerck.

Refreshments were dispensed by Mrs. Orville T. Waring, Mrs. George W. Van Bosckerck, Mrs. John Bushnell, Mrs. Gifford Mayer, Mrs. George H. Goddard, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. H. P. Reynolds, Mrs. C. C. Guion, Mrs. N. P. T. Finch, Mrs. Henry McGee, Mrs. De Revere, Mrs. Ruth C. Leonard, Mrs. George W. Rockfellow, Miss Annie Opdyke, Mrs. Van Alstyne, Mrs. Utzinger, Mrs. Nelson Runyon, Mrs. Henry Tapsley, Miss Martine, Miss Edith Allen, Mrs. J. Parker Mason, Mrs. J. K. Myers, Mrs. Walton, and Mrs. H. C. Adams

New York Times February 5, 1895


Entertainmnets Which Have Helped to Make the Week Pass Pleasantly

PLAINFIELD, N. J., Feb. 16 – On Wednesday evening a cotillion was danced at the home of ex-Mayor Q. V. F. Randolph of East Front Street.

Herman Simmonds of Watchung Avenue has gone to Florida, to remain until Spring.

Mrs. Dudley Insley of Tacoma and Miss See of Sing Sing are guests of Mrs. E. E. Runyon of Madison Avenue.

Mrs. Howell of Chester, who has been visiting her sister Mrs. F. D. Whiting of East Sixth Street, has returned home.

Next Tuesday evening the ladies of the Monroe Avenue Chapel will hold their annual supper.

Mrs. Robert Downy of Madison Avenue gave a tea this afternoon from 4 to 7.

By far the largest and most brilliant social function that has ever been given in this city was the Ackerman reception at the Casino on Monday night. About 500 guests were present, the largest number that has yet gathered in that pretty clubhouse and ballroom. Mrs. J. Hervey Ackerman received, assisted by Mrs. Robert Rushmore, Mrs. Ernest R. Ackerman, and Mrs. Marion S. Ackerman.

Plainfield Countil of the Royal Arcanum celebrated the addition of the two hundredth member to its ranks Monday night with an entertainment.

William C. Ayers, one of Plainfield's oldest residents, celebrated his eighty-sixth birthday Tuesday. He was born on Feb. 12, 1809, on the same day as Lincoln.

Wednesday evening the ladies of the Seventh Day Baptist Church held a sale and supper in the church.

An interesting meeting of the Monday Afternoon Club was held in the parlors of the Crescent Avenue Church Monday, at which David P. Hall gave a talk on parliamentary usage.

The Third Regiment Cadet Corps of this city will go to Bound Brook on Washington's Birthday to take part in the parade of that place.

Several new members were received into the Plainfield Bicycle Club at a meeting Monday night.

On Thursday evening, Feb. 21, a Martha Washington tea will be given in the First Presbyterian Church.

Tuesday evening Mr. and Mrs. B. O. Bowers of Franklin Place entertained the Musical Club.

The Ladies Committee of the Young Women's Christian Association met Tuesday afternoon and elected the following officers: President – Mrs. Henry M. Maxson; Vice-President – Mrs. J. Wesley Johnson; Treasurere – Mrs. J. H. Manning; Secretary – Miss Embury.

Next month Miss Fannie Westphal will be married to George Gray of Brooklyn.

Tuesday, Mrs. Marion S. Ackerman of West Seventh Street gave a dinner in honor of her guest, Miss Cox of New York. The guests present were Miss Gertrude Waly, Miss Cox, Miss Marion Dumont, Miss Waldron, Miss Lawrence, Miss Carey, Harry Munger, Laurens Van Buren, Fred Waly, Dr. B. Van D. Hedges, Mr. Waring and Mr. Wharton.

A union meeting of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Societies of the Crescent Avenue and First Presbyterian Churches as held Tuesday afternoon at the latter church. The subject discussed as "China," papers being read by Mrs. M. E. Dwight, Mrs. Luchey, Mrs. Cornelius Schenck, Mrs. Pruden, and Mrs. Wyckoff.

Next Saturday Mrs. Henry McGee of Washington Park will give an afternoon tea. The hours will be from 4 to 7 o'clock.

During the week Miss Florence Honneger of New Brighton, S. I., has been the guest of Mrs. J. R. Hill of Belvidere Avenue.

Plainfield's handsome new Young Men's Christian Association Building was formally opened Tuesday night. Addresses were made by Mayor Alexander Gilbert, the first President of the association; the Rev. Dr. William R. Richards and William D. Murray, the present President. The building cost about $50,000.

August 26, 1894 New York Times Article: Plainfield, City of Homes

For amusements there is Stillman's Music Hall, one of the largest in the State.

Plainfield Public Library

February 21, 2010
Recalling the sulky, ca. 1880.

A photo from 1880 of a horse with a rider on a sulky. A sulky is a light-weight cart with two wheels and a seat for the driver. It was used for harness races. The horse and sulky in this photo belonged to Charles H. Stillman. The name of the rider is not known. Stillman helped lead the efforts to provide free education to the youth of Plainfield. He was elected the first Plainfield Superintendent of Schools in 1847 and opened two schools in Plainfield that year. The Charles H. Stillman Elementary School on West Fourth and Arlington Avenues was named in his honor.

Photo ID: T2032 - Part of the Guillermo Thorn Photograph Collection.

The Plainfield Seminary

Located on West 7th Street, near Park Avenue, the Plainfield Seminary building was constructed in 1855 and was known as "The Chestnuts." At that time it housed the Opheleton Female Seminary, which was founded by E. Dean Dow. Around 1867, Miss E. E. Kenyon, a prominent society lady and founder of the Monday Afternoon Club, and her sister, Mrs. Maxson, took over Opheleton. The Seminary, also known as the "Plainfield College for Young Ladies," "Plainfield Seminary for Young Ladies and Children," and "Miss Kenyon's Seminary" had day students and boarding students. Although the Seminary closed its doors on June 9, 1919, it had an active alumnae group which held meetings for many years.

Maxson School

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

Stillman School

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

1920 Muhlenberg Hospital Womens Auxiliary

Mrs. W. M. Stillman
426 West Seventh Street

1909 Plainfield City Directory

Stillman Fred L, machinist, h 816 W 4th
Stillman George E, supt, h 666 W 7th
STILLMAN WILLIAM M, counsellor-at-law, 212 W Front, h 426 W 7th

Atwood Angus P, insurance, h 815 First pl
ATWOOD DAVID G, D D S, dentist, office hours 9 am to 12 m, 1 to 5 p m, 308 W Front, h 510 W 7th, tel 909-R
Atwood John H, clerk, h 1145 Thornton av

1915 - 1923 List of Meetings

May 13, 1925 Meeting Minutes

June 10, 1925 Meeting Minutes

1925 Meeting Minutes

1918 Meeting Minutes

1919 Meeting Minutes

1920 Meeting Minutes

Crescent Avenue Historic District

Crescent Area Historic District

Post Office: Plainfiled
Zip: 07060

Hillside Avenue Historic District
Van Wyck Brooks Historic District

The Crescent Area Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2013, The Gombach Group.

Prior to the arrival of the white man, the Lenni-Lenape Indians, part of the Algonquin Tribe, lived in this area of New Jersey. The Ice Age had endowed this area with a protective terrain, productive farmlands and forests and "wonderful pure air and springs." Indian trails became the highways and streets still in use in Plainfield today.Watchung Avenue located in the heart of the Crescent Area Historic District was once one of those trails. Remains of an Indian village and burial grounds have been found in the locality of First, Second and Third Place which are within the boundaries of the Crescent Avenue Historic District.

The first white settlers from Scotland and Holland arrived in the area in the 1680's. The first permanent settler was Thomas Gordon whose home was on Cedarbrook Road adjacent to Crescent Avenue, and whose land holdings covered most of what is present-day Plainfield. The enthusiastic letters back home detailing the healthful climate, plentiful game, fish and fowl, good soil and water brought other settlers to New Jersey, in spite of the "Flee by the salt marshes, most troublesome in the summer." These elements continued through the years to attract new residents.

During the Revolutionary War, patriots from area families served in militia regiments as foot soldiers and officers. An important battle, the Battle of the Short Hills, was fought in the area in June of 1777 and was instrumental in repelling the British in New Jersey. Some of the homes of those who supported the cause of the Revolution still exist today: The Drake House Museum, where Washington rested and briefed his officers, and the Vermule Homestead, where the officers were quartered.
Following the war, industry and transportation began to grow and take on added importance, contributing to the economic prosperity. Plainfield became officially recognized on April 1, 1800 with a population of 215. The Gordon Gazetteer in 1834 gave a glowing account of all the rich resources in Plainfield and noted that "the society is moral and religious."

It was in Plainfield in 1847 that the model for the public school system for the state was devised. Through the efforts of Dr. Charles H. Stillman, Plainfield physician, the New Jersey Legislature empowered the city to raise money by taxation in order to establish a public school system. An account of the day declares, "No one can measure the effect of this enlightened policy in extending the fame of the city and building up its prosperity." Many of the people who were active in education and cultural activities lived within the bounds of the Crescent Area Historic District.

The most influential force to the development of Plainfield was the railroad, which brought about a change in the social and economic character of the town. When a direct connection was made between Plainfield and New York City, c.1850, Plainfield became a commuter town.

During the Civil War, many local residents were involved in the fighting. General Sterling, a general on McCleland's staff, built his home and settled on First Place after the War.

Job Male, a philanthropist, who became known as "Plainfield's Grand Old Man", settled in Plainfield in 1867, following the Civil War. An inventor, he had simplified the loading of ferry slips with a patented leveling device. He purchased with Evan Jones, twenty four acres of land "in the suburbs and laid it out in village lots and streets and erected twenty substantial residences of fine architectural design, drawing the plans for them all himself." He was his own contractor and owned a greater part of the land that includes Crescent Avenue and Watchung Avenue. He designed a particularly distinctive style of architecture "stucco-walled, Mansard roofed, still standing today." He continued to build homes in different parts of the city until his possessions included more than one hundred Plainfield houses. His obituary notice in 1891 noted that "his purse always ready to respond to the calls of deserving charity." He was a public benefactor, making possible the Public Library and the Job Male Art Gallery, and donating the land for the hospital, the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the Unitarian Church.

A Central New Jersey Times account in 1870 of "Our Town Improvements" wrote, "The improvements in building is the expression of a spirit that leads to progressive movements in other directions. The old houses are not recognizable with tints of brown and cream and olive, their plain roofs metamorphosed by pediments, fancy gables and cornices, their primitive simplicity converted into modern beauty by wings, bay windows, recessed projections and every variety of architectural development." The writer further comments on the "new houses, with their aspiring towers, French roofs and cupolas." It was the kind of community that led the Elizabeth Herald in May of 1888 to write, "The bustling activity of the city of remarkable." And to conclude, "The next move in Plainfield, no doubt, will be the horse cars."
Plainfield had become a fashionable summer resort and eventually attracted many wealthy New York businessmen to settle here year 'round. The Gas Light Age evokes memories of Plainfield with theatricals, minstrel shows, roller rinks and other forms of entertainment. The site of many hotels, the Netherwood was reputed to be one of the "most healthful, comfortable and accessible inland summer resorts in the country."

By 1890, with substantial wealth and improvements, Plainfield continued to advance and prosper, attracting people of substance to live here. As successful businessmen and their families settled in the Crescent Avenue area, they became active in the cultural, religious, and educational affairs of the city. James W. Jackson, William D. Murray both served as presidents of the newly-formed YMCA. Henry C. Squires established the Hope Chapel on January 1, 1888 as a branch of the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. Augustus Baldwin worked closely with Job Male in establishing the first free public library and the art gallery. In 1883 some of the first subscribers to "the last word in modern efficiency," the telephone, lived in the District: George Goddard, F.O. Herring, Leander Lovell, and the Dumond family. Many served as members of the Common Council.

After Job Male's death, Plainfield continued to be a highly desirable neighborhood and remained that way until the 1930's, when many of the large homes were converted to apartments. This process continues with single family residences almost non-existent today. The alterations for the most part are tastefully done and are not detrimental to the basic style and charm of the original building. This makes for a particularly fine collection of buildings appropriate to an Historic District.
Notes on Recollections of Long-time Residents of the Area
Longtime residents of Plainfield have been interviewed regarding their recollections of famous residents of this area. Those persons interviewed were Mrs. Lawrence Heely, Mrs. Henry Noss, Mrs. Dorothy Wills, Mrs. Helen Mygatt, Mr. John Harmon, Miss Gwen Cochran, Mrs. Dorothy DeHart, Miss Dorothy Leal, Mr. Alfred Genung, Mr. Alex Kroll, Mr. A.L.C. Marsh, Mrs. Hendrick Van Oss and others.

Many people have lived there who were outstanding in cultural fields, education and politics, as well as very successful professional and business men, active both locally and in New York City. Also educators and statesmen lived here.

John Carlson, a renown artist and member of the National Academy lived on 3rd Place as did Alex Seidel who achieved international fame for his designs for Steuben Glass. Another prominent artist who lived here was Thomas Hart Benton whose brother lived for many years on Crescent Avenue. Also William Gilbert, a well known illustrator, lived on Crescent Avenue.

The author of the White Cliffs of Dover, Alice Duer Miller, A. Van Dorn Honeyman, the famous historian, lived on 9th Street, and also Van Wyk Brooks another well-known author. Ernest Ackerman, a representative in U.S. Congress in the 1870's and his brother Marion Ackerman, who lived on Crescent Avenue, founded the Lone Star Cement Company and were deeply involved in many large national important financial and industrial enterprises.

The famous opera singer, Mario Caruso, married a Goddard and was frequently a visitor to Plainfield to the Goddard House at 213 East 9th Street. This family had a profound influence on the musical advancement of the entire area.

The area abounded in lawyers, judges and politicians, including four Mayors of Plainfield, and people in the foreign service for 25 years, such as Hendrick Van Oss, most recently served as ambassador to Madagascar and other countries.

The Crescent Avenue area was truly the heart of the town and boasted the most important and influential people of the period 1860 through 1920. The homes of these people reflect their taste, affluence and are a tangible piece of architectural history reflecting a glorious past.

The Crescent Area Historic District is a great deal more than a lot of old houses. It is probably one of the finest collections of Victorian architecture in the country. The term Victorian is all inclusive and embraces numerous styles that echo tastes and decorative devices of other periods of architecture from other countries and other times than the one in which the present buildings were constructed. The majority of these have what in architectural terms is referred to as Italianate which stems from the architectural styles popular in Italy going back as far as Byzantine derivative styles, and 15th century Venetian palaces. These variety of design styles result in the sudden surge of interest in European cultures and an attempt by the suddenly successful and new class of wealthy businessmen who were anxious to reflect their success in the work of finance in their homes. These interests were stimulated by their travels abroad and what they had seen, which was considered elegant. Thus we have Tuscan towers, Italian villas, Palazzo's with loggia and arcaded window and arches, Renaissance, Egyptian motifs, classical elements, and finally the exuberant eclectic styles throwing the more American traits of Carpenter Gothic and Stick style in for good measure. English architecture is also reflected with half timber, projecting gables, Eastlake influence, Queen Anne and Edwardian styles. The detail photos of these buildings reflect the painstaking craftsmanship of the builders and imaginative design abilities of the architects. It is truly a tangible record of the past which should be preserved as close to its original state as practical, in their new role of many being converted for multi-family use.

The Crescent Area Historic District is one of the finest collections of suburban Victorian architecture in New Jersey. Developed as a speculative real estate venture in the 1870's by Job Male, the buildings are an impressive presentation of Italianate and Second Empire style architecture of the mid to late 19th century. The houses were primarily designed for wealthy businessmen and, consequently, visages within the district still retain a fine elegance in their total ambiance of buildings and their association with landscaping, rustic streets, sidewalks, and trees.

Blumenson, John J.G. Identifying American Architecture
Central New Jersey Times, 1870-1885.
Clayton, W. Woodford. History of Union & Middlesex Counties, 1882.
Cochran, Jean Carter. The History of Crescent Avenue Church
The Courier News, History of Plainfield, 1964.
The Courier News, November 1-4-8, 1954.
Devlin, Harry. To Grandfather's House We Go.
Downey, Andrew Jackson. The Architecture of Country Houses.
The Drake House Museum & The Plainfield Public Library, Scrapbooks and Files.
Dunham, F.A. Atlas City of Plainfield and Boro of North Plainfield, 1894.
Fitzgerald & Co. (Pub.). Springfield, Massachusetts, Plainfield City Directory, 1876-7.
Gowans, Alan. Images of American Living.
Honeyman, A. Van Dorn. History of Union County, Volumes I, II, & III.
Lapsley, Howard G. History of Plainfield, 1942.
League of Women Voters. This is Plainfield, 1954.
McCabe, Wayne. Historic Tour – Plainfield, N.J.
Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Plainfield Area, N.J.
Pub. by Plainfield Courier News. Plainfield & Vicinity in Pictures, 1926.
Plainfield Daily Press, Friday & Saturday, January 30, 31, 1891.
Plainfield Evening News, Saturday, May 23, 1888.
Plainfield & North Plainfield City Directory, 1879-80.
Plainfield & North Plainfield City Directory, 1894-5.
Pratt, Dorothy & Richard, A Guide to Early American Homes.
Smiley, F.T. History of Plainfield, 1891.
† Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., A.I.A., Architect and Marilyn Rupp, Architectural Historian, Crescent Area Historic District, Union County, New Jersey, nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Japanese Bird Bath

July 26, 2013

This bird bath now resides at another Plainfield residence. The owner purports that it was an original element in the garden at Gulestan.

Golestan Bird Bath

Is this a tsukubai? Or a chozubachi?

November 16, 2013

Celebration of the Life of Barbara Tracy Sandford

Dr. Charles L. Mead married Evie Madsen's daughter, Nancy Hance, December 2, 1968.

Perhaps Rev. Mead was a relation to "our" Mrs. Mead?

Mead, Mrs. Frederick Goodhue (Marie Louise Myers) '15

Mrs. Mead donated one of the stained glass windows in the church:

1910 New York Observer

Plainfield Church Renovated

The Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church at Plainfield, N. J., of which the Rev. John S. Zelie, D. D., is the pastor, has recently been enriched by the gifts of two handsome stained glass windows. The subject of the first window is "The Presentation in the Temple," and the second, "The Resurrection." The windows are rich and brilliant in color, and are done in painted and stained glass in the style of the renaissance which harmonizes with and carries out the general scheme of decoration of the church.

The first window is a memorial to Frederick G. Mead and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Myers by Mrs. Frederick G. Mead and the second window is in memory of Mr. Samuel Fisher Kimball, a deacon of the church, by his wife Mrs. Emma C. Kimball. The gifts of these windows follows the entire renovation of the church, which has been one of the the most successful renovations ever carried out. It was finished two years abo under the direction of Mr. Arthur Ware, of New York, and has resulted in making the Crescent Avenue Church one of the most beautiful and churchly edifices in the country.

Frederick, being of course her husband, and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Myers were Mrs. Mead's parents. Mr. and Mrs. Myers were also founding member Mrs. Jared Kirtland (Mary Ann Stillman) Myers '15 in-laws.

There were many Stillmans in the Club:

Quarles, Mrs. Ernest Augustus (Anita Mary Stillman) '22
Stillman, Mrs. Albert Leeds (Virginia Brown) '41
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucille Titsworth) '42

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'

Monday Afternoon Club Membership

January 4, 2014 Researching Golestan

January 4, 2014

Several members and the Plainfield Historical Society have now jumped into the ring in the quest to find the Very Old Statue. Nothing yet to report, but many of you have asked for more information about the estate and the Stillman family. To learn more, click on the individual member files:

Stillman, Mrs. Albert Leeds (Virginia Brown) '41
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucille Titsworth) '42
Quarles, Mrs. Ernest Augustus (Anita Mary Stillman) '22
Myers, Mrs. J. Kirtland (Mary Ann Stillman) '15

January 2, 2014

Dear Members,

We have been invited to solve a mystery!

A very prestigious professor from the University of Chicago, has written to us as he is researching Stillman Gardens in Plainfield.

The Stillman Garden apartment complex sits on the former Persian consulate estate called "Golestan" along Front Street and Leland Avenue. About ten years ago, the PGC documented this garden and submitted it to the Smithsonian Archives (see link).

In particular, the professor, Matthew W. Stolper, is interested in a statue which we described at the time of submission as a Japanese girl, carved in 1691. (It is not clear in the documentation if the statue was actually seen.)

Within the grounds of the apartment complex, there are several noticeable remnants of the Golestan garden. In addition, members are aware of Plainfield residents that have in their possession different items from the estate. So it stands to reason that we, as a group, may know where this statue is – if not on the grounds of the Stillman apartment complex . . .

Would anyone be willing to take a stroll through the complex and search for the statue? Bring your cameras and lets photograph the garden! The Smithsonian likes to have updated photographs.

If you would like to visit the garden or have any information on the garden or the Stillmans, please write back to

January 31, 2015 Correspondence

Dear Ms. Nichols,

My sincerest apologies for getting back to you so late. Our website had an "issue" with emails and I am just figuring it out.

Unfortunately, the only thing I would know about your family are the things posted on for Mrs. Mead:

Mead, Mrs. Frederick Goodhue (Marie Louise Myers) '15

Mrs. Mead was relating to other members of the Plainfield Garden Club:

Myers, Mrs. J. Kirtland (Mary Ann Stillman) '15
Quarles, Mrs. Ernest Augustus (Anita Mary Stillman) '22
Stillman, Mrs. Albert Leeds (Virginia Brown) '41
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucille Titsworth) '42
Joy, Mrs. James R. (Emma Prentice McGee) '33
McGee, Mrs. Harry Livingston (Susan M. Howell) '18
McGee, Mrs. Walter Miller (Mary Alice Yerkes) '22
Mooney, Mrs. Wandell McMaster (Alice Joy McGee) '47

I do recommend you contacting the genealogy department of the Plainfield Library 908-857-1111 as they would be more likely to help you further. Also, there may be information to be found at the Fanwood Library

Best of luck to you –

Susan Fraser
Communications Chair
Plainfield Garden Club
Founded 1915

December 27, 2014

My mother, Sandra Shepard Wright, was an only child and the great grand-daughter of Agustus D Shepard and Johanna Elizabeth Mead. I am looking for any information regarding great aunt Winifred Prentice Kay, and also Marie Riis [aka Rees] who was married to Agustus D. Shepard Jr. -Thanks!

Winifred Ohrstrom Nichols

Hillside Historic District

August 29, 2015

Hillside Historic District has announced a new website:

They have neatly listed the homes in the district in a similar fashion to our Homes & Gardens page.

It is no exaggeration to say that the PGC helped build Hillside. In fact our first club meeting took place at Mrs. Connor's home at 999 Hillside. Take a look at our PGC Hillside Historic District resident members:

807 Hillside Avenue
Browne, Miss Elizabeth B. '37

810 Hillside Avenue
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15

816 Hillside Avenue
Zerega, Miss Bertha Virginia '23

817 Hillside Avenue
Lawton, Mrs. Richard M. (Edith Clarke) '21

832 Hillside Avenue
Yates, Mrs. Frederick Washburn (Bertha Kedzie Cornwell) '15

921 Hillside Avenue
Detwiller, Miss Laura Cecelia '29
Detwiller, Mrs. Charles H. (Catherine or "Cath" Campbell), Jr. '57

922 Hillside Avenue
Atterbury, Mrs. Albert Hoffman (Emma H. Baker) '15

930 Hillside Avenue
Corey, Mrs. Ella J. '15

937 Hillside Avenue
Hunn, Mrs. John T. Sharpless (Hope Ivins) '37
Ivins, Mrs. DeWitt Clinton (Louise Morton Fox) '15
Ivins, Mrs. Clinton Fox (Marguerite Carpenter) '33

945 Hillside Avenue
Stevens, Mrs. Horace N. (Helen Coburn) '15

950 Hillside Avenue
Harlow, Mrs. Edward Dexter (Elise Cochran Martin) '15
Martin, Mrs. Francis A. (Mary Keech Turner) '22

955 Hillside Avenue
Wallace, Mrs. Frederick W. (Grace Seccomb) '15
deForest, Mrs. Henry Lockwood (Amy Brighthurst Brown) '33

966 Hillside Avenue
Warren, Mrs. Frank D. '15

970 Hillside Avenue
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15
Kroll, Mrs. Alexander (Nancy Dwinnell or Mrs. Prince H. Gordon) '60

975 Hillside Avenue
Runkle, Mrs. Harry Godley (Jennie Fitz Randolph) '15
Albin, Mrs. Leland D. (Jennie Hoag) '36
King, Mrs. Victor E. D. (Yasmina S.) '78
Whitehead, Mrs. James Harold (Jean Fitz-Randolph Heiberg) '43

980 Hillside Avenue
Hall, Mrs. Frederic L. (Anne Garrigues Wigton) '68
Stuart, Mrs. Linden (Jeanette W.), Jr. '52
Wigton, Mrs. Charles Benson (Garrigues) '45

982 Hillside Avenue
Baker, Mrs. Clifford Myron (Margaret Drayton) '32
Valiant, Mrs. John (Katharine Drayton) '40

985 Hillside Avenue
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P.") '15
Stevens, Mrs. Horace Nathaniel (Helen Coburn) '15
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P."), Jr. (Edith S.) '37
Stevens, Mrs. Robert Ten Broeck (Dorothy Goodwin Whitney) '37

996 Hillside Avenue
Wallace, Mrs. Frederick W. (Grace Seccomb) '15
Murray Townsend
Mooney, Mrs. Wandell McMaster (Alice Joy McGee) '47

999 Hillside Avenue
Conner, Mrs. William A. (Florence Tupper) '15
Wigton, Mrs. William Garrigues (Ann Hayes) '55

1000 Hillside Avenue
Lawrence, Mrs. Chester B. (Florence B.), Jr. '22

1005 Hillside Avenue
McWilliams, Mrs. Howard (Anna Louise Waldbridge/Mrs. Paul Taylor Brown) '22

1007 Hillside Avenue
Lockwood, Mrs. Frederick M. (Hazel Marshall) '52
Marshall, Mrs. Henry P. (Dorothy Burke) '30

1009 Hillside Avenue
Tracy, Mrs. Evarts '22
Tracy, Mrs. Howard Crosby (Minerva Bingham Lamson) '15
Tracy, Mrs. J. Evarts (Caroline Frederica Streuli) '22

1019 Hillside Avenue
Baker, Mrs. Clifford Myron (Margaret Drayton) '28

1030 Hillside Avenue
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucile Titsworth) '42

1035 Hillside Avenue
Streuli, Mrs. Alfred F. H. (Frederica Michelle Dwyer Hooper) '15

1045 Hillside Avenue
Timpson, Mrs. Lewis Gouverneur (Helen Frances Waring) '15
Waring, Mrs. Orville G. (Dorothy Fleming) '35

1046 Hillside Avenue
Genung, Mrs. Alfred Gawthrop (Dorothy or "Dot" Madsen) '69
Madsen, Mrs. John (Evelyn or "Evie" Wilson) '70

1300 Prospect Avenue
Streuli, Mrs. Alfred F. H. (Frederica Michelle Dwyer Hooper) '15
Tracy, Mrs. J. Evarts (Caroline Frederica Streuli) '22

1234 Watchung Avenue
Stevenson, Mrs. E. Vickers '41

1239 Watchung Avenue
Brown, Miss Edna M. '34

February 24, 2016 Email exchange with Stillman Family Descendent

Received this today:

You've received a new submission from your "contact us" through your "Plainfield Garden Club" Andy's Web Tools web site.

name: Mrs. Thomas B. Stillman Quarles (Carolyn)
email: xxxxxx
phone: xxxxxxx


In researching the Stillman family I saw a photo titled "A Group of Friends at the Home of Thomas B. Stillman 1860. " This was on your website while searching "Member: Stillman, Mrs. William Maxon (Elizabeth B. Atwood) "15. page 5. I would like to know the photo's provenance and whether a copy is available. Your website is very impressive. I appreciate your help.

Our response:

Dear Carol,

Thank you for writing in to us. The photo you reference was taken from a Google search years ago that had a site listed as The link to this site no longer works. We recommend contacting the Plainfield Library has they have extensive genealogical records for the founding families of Plainfield.

Please make sure you take a look at all our Stillman and Quarles members:

Myers, Mrs. J. Kirtland (Mary Ann Stillman) '15
Quarles, Mrs. Ernest Augustus (Anita Mary Stillman) '22
Stillman, Mrs. Albert Leeds (Virginia Brown) '41
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15
Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucille Titsworth) '42

Does anyone remember any of these members?!

UPDATE: February 27th:

Many thanks for your prompt reply. I am receiving help from Jane Thoner at the Public Library. My husband Thomas Bliss Stillman Quarles and I lived in Plainfield from 1954-57 after he graduated from Harvard Business School and worked in Union, NJ. We lived at 520 W. 7th Street and I was introduced to all the living Stillmans then–especially Aunt Dinny (Mrs. Albert Leeds Stillman and their estate Gulestan. I was busy with our first son, Kenneth, who was born at Muhlenberg Hospital in 1955. Aunt Ethel, the second Mrs. William Maxon Stillman, was our neighbor. Tom's mother, Anita Mary Stillman, taught me much family history, but Tom (90) and his sister Mary ( 88) both died in 2013 and I have no more contacts in Plainfield. I really enjoyed reading your membership lists and recognizing familiar names of the influential citizens who made Plainfield such an exceptional place. I remember once helping Aunt Dinny weed the Shakespeare Garden!

There is one disturbing error in your excellent club records: Anita Mary Stillman's husband was EMMET Augustus Quarles–not Ernest. Our third son is named after EAQ and was born on his birthday May 22. Our Rob is very proud of his heritage and especially the spelling of Emmet (one "t"). I hope it may be possible to correct this name. The Quarles family also has a distinguished southern history. Emmet's father was a professor of Moral Philosophy at Washington and Lee University in 1905.

You can see that I have a busy job trying to collect this genealogy for posterity and hope that at my age (86) I will have enough time! Fortunately I am reasonably "digitally savy" but
my fingers are not as facile as they once were in my secretarial days. I most appreciate a phone call–xxxxxxxxxx. Our home has been in xxxxxx since 1970. The address is xxxxxxxxxx.