Plainfield Garden Club

Member: Griswold, Mrs. Merton Lyman (Mary Victoria "Vic" Stevens), Jr. '44

1943 - 1945 Treasurer Book, Active: Mrs. Merton L. Griswold 6/20/44 Pd. 11/29/44 Pd. Her name is then crossed out.

920 Woodland Avenue

2007 Address: 816 Madison Avenue

Mary Vic Griswold was the daughter of Founding PGC member Mrs. Horace N. (Helen) Stevens '15

She is related to these PGC members:

Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15
Stevens, Mrs. Horace N. (Helen Coburn) '15
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P.") '15
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P."), Jr. (Edith S.) '37
Stevens, Mrs. Robert T. '37, '47

Merton L. Griswold Jr. Obituary in a photography blog

Merton L. Griswold Jr., 1905-2000, plastic surgeon and amateur photographer, died 8/6/2000

October 9, 2007 Obituary for Mary Vic Griswold in Wardlaw-Hartridge publication

Class of 1927
Mary Vic Griswold passed away on October 9, 2007. She was a resident of Plainfield, NJ. After graduating from The Hartridge School, she attended Smith College, studied at the Sorbonne, Paris and worked as a lab technician at the New York Hospital. She married Dr. Merton L. Griswold in 1937. She is survived by her three children and two grandchildren.

April 10, 2010 Bernice Paglia's blog on Mattson Photography Exhibit

Dr. Griswold is a subject of the Mattson photographic exhibit at the Plainfield Library.

Bernice Paglia blog October 13, 2007 on Mary Vic Griswold

Saturday, October 13, 2007
Mary Vic
A week ago Thursday, I spent eight hours in the Emergency Room with excruciating pain around my middle. While I awaited an answer on what might be the cause, I glanced out and saw a plaque stating that a nearby room had been built with a donation from Dr. Merton Griswold and Mary V. Griswold. Just the sight of those names made me feel better as I thought of that good-hearted pair.

Dr. Griswold, who could have driven a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, chose a green Checker cab as his signature vehicle. It brought a smile to the faces of many to see that jaunty cab on the streets of Plainfield and to me it represented a bit of whimsy that set off the Griswolds' mostly sensible outlook on life. Clues to their good deeds are all over Plainfield, but they were not dour do-gooders. Mary Vic could laugh with delight over discoveries in the garden or tales of a yellow-crowned night heron sighted in the pond at Cedar Brook Park. She enjoyed conversation and sharing opinions, even at an age when others might prefer to be silent sages. Life always seemed new to Mary Vic, with more to know and and enjoy.

Dr. Griswold left us some time ago, and now so has Mary Vic. I for one will miss her uncomplicated personality, her simplicity, her goodness. The Audubon Society has something called the Rare Bird Alert that brings droves to marvel at a unique winged creature. In Plainfield there are hundreds of people who knew Mary Vic as a rara avis in their midst - one of a kind, a treasured human being, never to be forgotten.

A memorial service will be held for Mary Vic at noon today in the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, 724 Park Ave.

Merton Griswold's book A Chequered Life

Stories You Wish Your Grandfather Had Told You
A Chequered Life
Tales of a New England Upbringing
by Merton L. Griswold, Jr., M.D.

ISBN 0-9630498-0-1

$9.95 plus $1.95 S & H

45 Minutes playing time

You'll laugh as Merton Griswold recalls the day his irrepressible father, a physician in Uxbridge, Mass. prepared for surgery on a farmhouse ironing board. You'll sympathize with his adventures with the cow who hated umbrellas.

College students will howl at antics of Amherst college fraternity boys in the 1920's, and country folk will feel right at home with Griswold's frugal Uxbridge relatives and neighbors.

Let Griswold's voice and narrative style take you back to the days when you sat at your grandfather's knee, or wish you had, listening to tales of "when I was a boy." His tales are a treat for the entire family.

Close your eyes - you'll hear the echoes of your childhood.

October 10, 2007 Dan Damon's Bolg on the passing of Mary Vic Griswold

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Mary 'Vic' Griswold, volunteer and activist
News came yesterday evening that Mary 'Vic' Griswold, known to many as a community stalwart, passed away peacefully at her home.

The obituary is in this morning's Courier.

Friends may gather with the family at Higgins Home for Funerals, Friday between 2 - 4 PM and 7 - 9 PM.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, beginning at Noon, at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, 724 Park Avenue. (Parking available in the city lot across from the church.)

Those who know Mary Vic's daughter Vicky, owner of the Plainfield Music Shop on North Avenue, may send expressions of sympathy to her directly at:

Ms. Vicky Griswold
816 Madison Avenue
Plainfield, NJ 07060

Jean Mattson Collection 1977 - 1999

Includes a photo of Mary Vic Griswold

Plainfield Library Archives

Dan Damon's post October 13, 2007 on funeral of Mary Vic Griswold

Saturday, October 13, 2007
Services for Mary 'Vic' Griswold at Noon

You might say that Mary 'Vic' Griswold was a fixture in Plainfield for all of her 97 years. I say 'all' because it became clear to me as her daughter Vicky shared photos and memories the other day, that that impish quality of joy in life and wide-eyed interest in everything which so characterized Mary 'Vic' was evident from her earliest childhood, as I could see in the old family albums.

Mary 'Vic' was just ten when women got the vote and she took both voting and women's issues seriously as lifelong interests – but always in her inimitable style, meaning seriously, but with a twinkle.

A woman who loved life, laughter, friends, music and social justice, Mary 'Vic' was both a champion of and volunteer for such causes as literacy and homelessness.

Befitting one who believed literacy is a key to opening life's doors, and whose own home was filled with books, Mary 'Vic' was thrilled to be able most recently to help the Plainfield Public Library adapt its building to the needs of today's users by serving as honorary chair of the Library's current capital campaign.

Friends and family will gather at noon today to remember and celebrate her life and contributions.

As I was leaving the gathering at Higgins Funeral Home Friday afternoon, I ran into an old friend, fellow congregant and League of Women Voters co-worker of Mary 'Vic''s in the parking lot. Commenting on my blazer and tie, she said she did not dress up for the gathering because Mary 'Vic' would have chided her for doing so.



Memorial Service for Mary 'Vic' Griswold

Today at Noon

First Unitarian Society of Plainfield
724 Park Avenue
(Parking available in the City lot across from the Church.)

Contributions in Mary 'Vic's memory may be made to –
The Plainfield Public Library, Capital Campaign Fund
800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
The Smith College Scholarship Fund
Stoddard Hall, 33 Elm Street, Northampton, MA 01063

– Dan Damon

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Mary Vic Griswold

Mary Vic Griswold

Vic was short for Victoria

Biography of Victoria Griswold, Essex Chambers Music Players

Victoria Griswold, Pianist

Victoria Griswold is a classical pianist who has concertized in Europe and Brazil. At her debut recital in New York City, a reviewer from the New York Times characterized her as "an elegant pianist." She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Manhattan School of Music, and her principal teachers include the late William Nelson of Carleton College, Zenon Fishbein at the Manhattan School of Music, and Jeaneane Dowis in New York City and the Aspen Music Festival. She has recorded several new works for piano and orchestra by William Thomas McKinley' on the MMC label, including Wind, Fire and Ice; Silent Whispers; and Mostly Mozart.

Her musical background includes appearances as solo recitalist; soloist with orchestra; chamber pianist; pianist and Music Director for professional musical theatre productions; Music Director and harpsichordist for Ars Musica Antiqua, an early music ensemble; and as church organist. She also served as staff accompanist at Jersey City State College for six years.

Ms. Griswold taught piano for 30 years in her private studio, and has adjudicated for many young people's competitions and auditions sponsored by such organizations as the New Jersey Symphony, the Music Educators Association of New Jersey, the Piano Teachers Congress of New York, and the New Jersey Music Teachers Association.

Victoria Griswold is also the owner of the Plainfield (NJ) Music store, a retail establishment specializing in printed music.

She is the granddaughter of Horace N. Stevens.

1415 Prospect Avenue Stevens Residence; Architect John P. Benson

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

When the J. P. Stevens Co. moved its offices to New York City, Horace Stevens relocated his family to Plainfield and had John Benson design this massive Shingle Style house for his family on Prospect Avenue. Courtesy of Mary Vic Griswold

The Horace Stevens family pose in the garden of their Prospect Avenue home. Seated are Horace Nathaniel and Hele Coburn Stevens with their three children: Helen, Nathaniel, and Mary Vic. Courtesy of Mary Vic Griswold.

816 Madison Avenue

Plainfield Library Photo File

G-368 1934 Y Grimstead House at 816 Madison Avenue 816 Madison Avenue Cross-gable two-and-a-half storey Queen Anne, with full front porch, clapboard siding with beveled shingling in the gable, two-storey carriage house at left rear, Whitehead Duyckinck. Van Wyck Brooks

Hillside Cemetery

September 14, 2011
Photo by S. Fraser

Horace Nathaniel Stevens' family plot is in another corner of the cemetery, away from his brother's, John Peters "J.P." Stevens. Horace and J.P.'s parents are reportedly buried at West Point.

Friday, September 16, 2011

After five years of planning and execution, capital campaign donors and Plainfield officials were treated to a sneak preview of the Plainfield Public Library's new children's room with a champagne reception Thursday evening.

Library Director Joe Da Rold and Library Board of Trustees President Anne Robinson thanked all those who had contributed to the campaign and the staff and volunteers who had worked so hard to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

The room is dedicated to the memory of the late Mary Vic Griswold, who had been honorary chair of the capital campaign and a gracious benefactor of the Library. Mary Vic's daughter Vicky, well known to Plainfield's cultural community, and her son Peter were also acknowledged.

1986 Program

1984 Questover Designers Showhouse Program

Questover Program pages 1 through 55

Questover Program pages 56 through 106

Questover Program pages 107 through 131

Courier News articles for "Griswold"

Griswold Wade Everitt 10/20/1958 Obituary

1982 May Designer Showhouse: 1127 Watchung Avenue

Cover to Page 25

Page 26 to Page 51

Page 52 to Page 75

Page 76 to Back Cover

**PATRON: Dr. and Mrs. M. L. Griswold

August 2000 Courier News obituary for Merton L. Griswold, plastic surgeon

from Anne Shepherd's memorablia:

March 25, 2013 Martie Samek assists the Club in editing the Stevens Family history

Much discussion was had regarding the very well known Stevens family. Bob Fahrenholtz said the original J.P. Stevens and his wife were buried at West Point and did not know why. Bill Shepherd and Carter Booth remembered that he had served as Secretary of Defense and that his probably why he is buried there. Perhaps there is some confusion...Robert T Stevens, brother of JPStevens, JR., husband of Dorothy Whitney Stevens, was Secretary of the Army under Eisenhower. I have checked the internet and can find no evidence that any Stevens was Secretary of Defense. This cabinet position seems to have come into existence in the 1940's.

A quick Google search found that it was JP Stevens' (senior's) son, Robert, who served as Secretary of the Army. (He was famous for standing up to Senator Joseph McCarthy) Bob Fahrenholtz reported that not too many were buried within the mausoleum. (We always thought that JPStevens, Jr's ashes were buried on the property on Woodland Avenue...Not certain of this, however.) Horace N. Steven's family (a brother to JP Stevens) Senior? is buried in another corner of the Hillside Cemetery.

JPStevens Jr. (husband of Edith) was a civilian general during WWII. He was very proud of this. Many prominent manufacturers whose companies aided in the war effort attained the title. Robert Wood Johnson was one of these. He was always referred to as General Johnson when my husband Ed worked at J and J. Jack Stevens dropped the honorific but always enjoyed sharing stories about his part and the part of the JPStevens company in the war effort.

Edith and Jack moved to their house, an old farm house, on Woodland Avenue at the time of their marriage. As their family grew, they expanded it to fit their needs. They spent their entire married life there. One room, the living room, is especially memorable because it was designed by a famous architect (whose name I no longer remember) and supposedly had the most perfect proportions and was often photographed.

Jack's brother Robert and his wife Dorothy lived next door in the house now owned by Dr. John Ferrante and his wife Mary. Karen and Tom Shea live in the Jack Stevens house. I think it is correct that the senior Stevens built their house on Woodland Avenue after Jack and Edith owned theirs. The Stevens eventually owned most of the land on Woodland Avenue. They farmed it and supplied jobs to many young Plainfield men. As well, they were proud that the farm provided food for many in the area during WWII. We purchased the land on which we built our house from Jack and Edith in 1976.

I am curious about the senior Stevens being buried at West Point....Because Robert Stevens was Secretary of the Army, it makes sense that it was he and his wife who were buried at West Point, not the senior Stevens. Not much history that I can find about them, but I think the senior Mr. Stevens was mainly focused on running the Stevens company.

Hope this is not more than you wanted to know!


Secretary of the Army:
ROBERT T. STEVENS. Served in the Army in World War I, and during World War II in the Office of the Quartermaster General. With J. P. Stevens and Company, Inc., 1921-1942, 1945-1 953.
Secretary of the Army, 4 February 1953-20 July 1955.

January 26, 1953 Time Magazine Article about JP Stevens' Son, Robert. His wife Dorothy was a member of the PGC. They lived on Woodland Avenue. Their son Whitney...Dorothy's maiden name... was CEO of the Stevens Textile Company for many years.

A tougher case than Wilson's is that of Robert Ten Broeck Stevens, a textile manufacturer, who was appointed Secretary of the Army. His firm, J. P. Stevens & Co. of New York City, does a third (about $125 million a year) of its business with the Defense Department, mostly in cloth for uniforms. It is a family firm. If he sold his stock, management might pass to other hands, the firm might have to be completely reorganized, with consequences that would extend far beyond any personal sacrifice Stevens might have to make. The Stevens firm, however, sells to the Government on the basis of competitive bids, while General Motors has a number of large development contracts and other dealings in which discretion is necessarily in the hands of Government officials and finally in the hands of the Secretary of Defense himself.

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Ave This Single-Family Home is located at 920 Woodland Avenue, Plainfield NJ. 920 Woodland Ave is in the 07060 ZIP code in Plainfield, NJ. The average listing price for ZIP code 07060 is $248,080. 920 Woodland Ave has 7 beds, 3 ½ baths, and was built in 1893
Entered July 26, 2013

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

920 Woodland Avenue

Plainfield, N. J. Courier-News Monday, February 10, 1958

DEDICATION – Taking part in dedication ceremonies of the Helen Coburn Stevens Room in the First Unitarian Church yesterday were (left to right) E. Stanley Go?dman, society president; Horace E. Bunker, past president; Peter Griswold, Mrs. Stevens' grandson, who unveiled the plaque; the Rev. M. Mortimer G???ner Jr., ???, and the Rev. Nicholas C. Cordell Jr. (Courier Photo by E. T. Wiggins)

Unitarians Dedicate Addition

The newly completed addition to the First Unitarian parish house was dedicated yesterday in connection with the morning service. Followig the service, plaques were dedicated in the Church School vestibule and in the Helen Coburn Stevens room, a meeting room named for the late Mrs. Horace N. Stevens who was long active in the church.

The Rev. N Mortimer G??? Jr. minister, delivered the sermon and conducted the act of dedication. He was assisted in the service by the Rev. Nicholas Cardell (??) Jr. associate minister.

The dedicatory plaque in the Church School was unveiled by Mary Lee Doyle, representing the Church School students. The plaque bears the name of the building's architect, Harry K?? White, a member of the church.

The plaque in the Helen Coburn Stevens room was unveiled by Peter Griswold, grandson of Mrs. Stevens. The plaque states: "This room is dedicated by the congregation in loving memory of Helen Coburn Stevens, a warmly devoted member. February 1958."

Mrs. Winifred Linke was chairman of the dedication committee. The reception which followed the ceremonies was in charge of Mrs. Edward Meagher.

First meeting of the Church school classes in the new classrooms will take place next Sunday.

View into the back of the Griswold home on Woodland from Watchung

July 26, 2013

View into the back of the Griswold home on Woodland from Watchung

July 26, 2013

July 27, 2013 Pot made by Mary Vic Griswold

Bernice has another interesting blog: A Garden Cutie

When describing her pretty floral container, Bernice writes: "The very small pot was created by Mary Vic Griswold, who was a potter as well as a philanthropist and is remembered very fondly by many Plainfielders."

Mary Vic Stevens Griswold was a member of the PGC and part of the large Stevens clan. Mary Vic's mother (founding member), aunt (founding member) and cousin-in-law were all notable members of The Club.

Other Stevens relatives/PGC members included:
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15 (aunt)
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm, Jr. (Shirley Clark) '48 (cousin-in-law)
Stevens, Mrs. Robert Ten Broeck (Dorothy Goodwin Whitney) '37 (cousin-in-law)

1986 Archives

Plainfield Historical Society Memorabilia From the Archives of Barbara Tracy Sandford

This is a sampling of materials saved by Barbara Sandford in her "Plainfield Historical Society" file.

Plainfield Historical Society Memorabilia

Index (73 pages)

December 18, 2015

The Climes, They Are A-Changin'

Local writer Bernice Paglia mentions two members of the PGC in today's post:

Barbara Sandford
Mary Vic Griswold

November 30, 2015 Missing Portrait

November 30, 2015

Another art mystery to be solved!

We received an email today from a descendant of the Stevens family in search of an elusive portrait painted by famed PGC member Geraldine Acomb.

If you do not know about Mrs. Acomb, please take a moment and look through our scrapbook about this very talented member: Acomb, Mrs. Frederick G. (Geraldine de M. Goutiere) '62

According to the email [See Below] Mrs. Acomb painted a mother-daughter portrait of one of the many Stevens' women. One could say that the PGC was built on the foundations of the Stevens clan. Here are all the members that we know of from that family:

Stevens, Mrs. Horace N. (Helen Coburn) '15
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P.") (Edna Ten Broeck) '15
Stevens, Mrs. John Peters ("J.P."), Jr. (Edith Stevens) '37
Stevens, Mrs. Robert Ten Broeck (Dorothy Goodwin Whitney) '37
Barnhart, Mrs. Noah Chisholm (Susan Stevens) '15
Barnhart, Mrs. N. Chisholm, Jr. (Shirley Clark) '48
Griswold, Mrs. Merton Lyman (Mary Victoria "Vic" Stevens), Jr. '44

If any of you would know where to search for this painting or whom to ask, please write in to

To read about the last painting we found for someone in 2014: Barlow, Mrs. DeWitt Dukes (Mary Lee Brewer), Jr. '65

Email Received from Edward Stevens Gottfried:

I am contacting you as I see the Plainfield Garden Club has a rather extensive posting about the works of one of its late members, Geraldine Acomb. My mother was lucky enough to inherit the portrait Mrs. Acomb painted of my grandmother, and she recently told me that there was a second, later portrait that Mrs. Acomb painted of my grandmother and aunt which was never sold to the family but was instead exhibited. I'm trying to track it down in the hopes of either purchasing it as a gift for my aunt, or (if that is not possible), to have it photographed. Is there any chance that you have a record of the painting, or any other information regarding Mrs. Acomb's works which might lead me in the right direction? Is there any record of her children, so that I might contact them?

For what it's worth, my grandmother was Mrs. Christina Stevens (née Schmidt), and, so far as the family can remember, the portrait was of her and my aunt, Helen Stevens, and was likely taken sometime in the mid-1960's. I figure this is a long shot, but certainly worth a try!

Edward Stevens Gottfried

UPDATE: November 30, 2015 Email from Rick Detwiller

Hello PGC,

I don't know where the Stevens' portrait might be, but attached is the portrait of my mother Catherine Campbell Detwiller by Gerry Acomb that I promised to send back in 2012. Apparently you already have the photo of her with the portrait taken when she was 96. She is now living in Westwood, MA, going on 100 and just celebrated Thanksgiving with us all at our brother Chip's house in Groton MA.


Rick D.

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