Plainfield Garden Club

Member: Detwiller, Miss Laura Cecelia '29

1929 Treasuer Book lists Miss Laura C. Detwiller" as Active and having paid $5.00
1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937 Treasurer Book Active

1932 Directory* Address: 921 Hillside Avenue Plainfield
* = This directory is not dated but presumed to be from the year 1932.

1938 Treasurer Book, Active: Miss Laura Detwiller 1/12/38 Pd. 1/14/39 Pd.

1940 Treasurer Book, Active: Miss Laura Detwiller 1/9/40 Pd 1/14/41 Pd. 11/26/41 Pd. 12/15/42 Pd. 11/27/43 Pd. 2/14/45 Pd. 12/5/45 5/16/46 June 9, 1947 June 4, 1948 June 29, 1949 June 15, 1950 June 1951

1952 - 1953 Treasurer Book, Associate: Dewiller, Miss Laura September 1952

1942 Address: 922 Hillside Avenue

Miss Laura Detwiller was the aunt of Charles H. Detwiller, Jr. – husband to Plainfield GC member Cath Detwiller.

September 12, 1900 New York Times wedding announcement

Detwiller - Schott

BALTIMORE, Sept. 11 – The marriage of Miss Edith Schott, daughter of Simon P. Schott of Baltimore, to Clarenhece J. Detwiller of New York, took place this evening at Solitude, the country residence of Mr. Schott near Lutherville, Baltimore County. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. W. H. H. Powers of Trinity Church, Towson. The ushers were John M. Satterfield of Buffalo, Richard Daniel, William Lockwood, and Alexander Armstrong of New York, and W. H. Cockey and W.A. Schott of Baltimore. The best man was Charles Henry Detwiller of New York, a brother of the groom. The maid of honor was Miss Louise Schott, a sister of the bride and the flower girl was Miss Betty Holmes of Jersey City. The bridesmaids were Miss Laura C. Detwiller of New York, Miss Elizabeth Detwiller of Easton, Penn; Miss Bessie Preston of Boston and Miss Nancy G. Summers of Philadelphia.

Guests from New York, Boston and Philadelphia attended the reception which followed the ceremony.

Sunday, July 5, 1903 Easton Daily Argus Obituary

Cecelia Detwiller this morning, Greenville, N.J. Jacob Detwiller

Children: Charles Detwiller, Clarence Detweiller, Miss Laura Detwiller

Among the Mushrooms by Caroline A. Burgin


The books which have been consulted in the preparation of this work are, "British Fungi," by Rev. John Stevenson; "British Fungus-Flora," by George Massee; "Mushrooms and their Uses," and "Boleti of the United States," by Professor Charles H. Peck, State Botanist of New York; "Moulds, Mildew and Mushrooms," by Professor L. M. Underwood; and a pamphlet by Mr. C. G. Lloyd, entitled "The Volvae of the United States."

No attempt has been made to do more than to put in popular language the statements of experienced botanists, and so to arrange the matter as to aid beginners in their work.

Thanks are due to Mr. Harold Wingate for his suggestions and corrections of the manuscript; to Mr. C. G. Lloyd for permission to print from his photographs; to Miss Laura C. Detwiller for her paintings from nature, which have been here reproduced; and also to Mrs. Harrison Streeter and Miss Mary W. Nichols for their encouragement of the undertaking and suggestions in furtherance of its success.

May 25, 1883 New York Times


The number of people who came down town in the evening to see the fire-works was astonishing. From 6:30 o'clock there was not an elevated train or surface car or stage-coach that came from up town but was crowded to suffocation . . . .

For blocks and blocks on either side of the bridge there was scarcely a foot of room to spare. . .

Only a few specially invited guests were allowed to pass on the bridge and witness the display of fire-works from this point, which was made under the personal supervision of Mr. J. J. Detwiller of the firm of Detwiller & Sweet. Just as the sun was sinking below the horizon, Mr. Detwiller and his little daughter, Laura C. Detwiller, made their appearance on the centre of the bridge. A fire company from Brooklyn and another from this City had been engaged for an hour in wetting down the woodwork of the bridge in order to guard against any possible danger from the pyrotechnic display. . . .

At 8 o'clock precisely Miss Laura C. Detwiller applied the torch to the first flight of 50 rockets which were sent from the centre of the bridge and directed toward the east. . .

Ruters University Library

Detwiller, Charles H.
Architectural papers, 1927 and 1952-1983.

Manuscript Collection 1104
Special Collections and University Archives
Rutgers University Libraries

QUANTITY: ca. 7.6 cubic ft. (5 cartons, 2 newspaper boxes, 9 map folders)
ACCESS: No restrictions.
PROCESSED BY: Mitchell Greenberg

Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content Note
Arrangement Note
Container List

Biographical Sketch
Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., restoration architect, chair of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects' committee on historic preservation and an officer of the New Jersey Chapter of Architectural Historians, was graduated from Princeton University in 1939. He received further education at the Brooklyn School of Design and Construction, from which he was graduated in 1950. The son of Charles Detwiller, Sr., an architect in Plainfield, New Jersey, Charles Jr. had his office in Plainfield as well. His father, having once walked him around the former family homestead near Allentown, Pennsylvania, to "point out a pretty cornice," succeeded in sparking a passion in him at age 11 for architecture specifically dealing with older buildings.

His first recorded historical restoration project was the Drake House (circa 1747), Plainfield, the interiors of which Detwiller worked on in 1950. The next major project, in 1961, was the Stage House Inn (circa 1837), Scotch Plains, which involved not only restoration but house moving. Other important projects were the Mystic Maritime Museum (circa 1810), Mystic, Connecticut, which entailed new construction in period style, the Badgley House (circa 1710-40), Mountainside, which he measured and prepared a proposal to reconstruct, and the Old Red Mill Museum and Historic Village in Clinton, new construction in period style.

Detwiller also did consulting work with ten different historical societies throughout New Jersey and, in conjunction with a variety of engineering firms, advised on the cultural impact of major highway extensions in northern and central New Jersey (I-287, I-78 and Route 55).

Of Detwiller's children, two (Frederic and Charles III) also became architects.

Scope and Content Note
The papers of restoration architect Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., MC 1104, span the years 1952 to 1983, with the bulk of them falling between 1976 and 1983. They are filed in two series (sequences) as received: 1) documentation relating to individual historic buildings and historic districts for which Detwiller provided professional services (e.g., Buccleuch Mansion, Crescent Avenue Historic District), about which he was contacted (e.g., Ivy Hall) or in which he had an interest (e.g., Hiram Market); and 2) documentation of major highway extension plans and surveys and their environmental impact on historic buildings (i.e., I-287, which comprises the bulk of this series, and I-78 and Route 55), plus major sewer facility expansions and their impact (e.g., Franklin Borough). Also filed in the second series, as found, are papers concerning one additional historic district for which Detwiller provided consulting services (Old Bridge) and notes from a 1980 historic restoration conference.

The majority of the papers in the first series detail Detwiller's activities inspecting and suggesting appropriate improvements to New Jersey buildings dating from as early as the 18th century. Parallel to these activities Detwiller appraised the likelihood of various buildings qualifying for federal or state "historic landmark" status and attendant benefits (financial aid in restoration, tax reduction). His role in restoration was thus not only to tastefully preserve but also to follow guidelines set forth by the National Park Service (its National Register for Historic Places) and the New Jersey Historic Sites Commission. The remainder of the papers in the first series reflect Detwiller's involvement in preservation campaigns where developers had bought up certain properties (Blenheim Hotel, Hiram Market), researching the history of previous ownerships and restorations on certain buildings (Denville survey) and various other activities relating to buildings or districts.

The second series consists mainly of I-287 extension plans, 1977-1983. This project was seen in its various alternate proposals to affect many houses in early settled parts of northern New Jersey extending from Montville to the New York state border. Detwiller was employed by the architectural and engineering firm of Louis Berger & Associates, Inc., East Orange, to assess the historical value of buildings in and near the path of this highway. He played the same role in the 1978 Route 55 project (under the auspices of the Environmental Assessment Council, New Brunswick) and the 1975 I-78 project (for URS Madigan-Praeger, Inc., of New York City).

The Detwiller papers provide an excellent overview of efforts to preserve New Jersey's heritage through restoration methods and materials that are in keeping with original architecture. The collection also provides a glimpse into the difficulties of nonpartisan appraisal of buildings that lie in the path of proposed construction projects.

The papers consist of correspondence, notes, photographs, Detwiller's reports on individual structures (evaluating age, style, significance, condition, etc.), bid specifications, architectural drawings, construction contracts, bills for services rendered, printed matter (maps, pamphlets, catalogs, periodical issues, government documents, newspaper clippings, photocopies from county histories, blueprints, aerial photographs, etc.), photocopies of deed book entries, contract archaeology reports and a variety of brochures. Also included are a fragment of hand-painted wallpaper, paint chips and more than one rusty nail.

Arrangement Note
The Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., architectural papers are arranged in two series (filing units), one consisting of individual building and district surveys and the other of highway extension proposals and district surveys. The documents were received by Special Collections and University Archives in these two groupings. Most of the folders in the first series were labeled with the names of either areas or buildings, although not all of the building names correspond to current usage. Some folders (ten or so) retained the owner's names since the buildings themselves had no names as such. A very few folders lacked headings and were supplied them; these headings appear in bracketed form on the folders. The second series, in contrast, contained many unlabeled, vaguely labeled or mislabeled folders. While the unlabeled and mislabeled folders were provided bracketed "Miscellaneous" headings (among the I-287 subseries), the vague headings were transferred as they appeared to the new folders–with the result that many related materials in this series are found scattered between folders without any clear rational.

Most oversize blueprints from the first series were segregated, their corresponding folder headings copied on larger folders, and put in newspaper boxes. An asterisk next to a folder number on the container list indicates that an oversize blueprint has been shifted in this manner.

Maps, blueprints, topographic surveys and aerial photographs from the second series, and some blueprints from the first series, were transferred to a map case drawer due to their very large size. These documents are listed at the end of the container list.

Container List

1 1 List of Surveys of Historic Sites by C.H. Detwiller or A.I.A.
2* Acorn Hall (Morristown), 1978-1979
3 Badgley House (Mountainside), 1972-1980
4 Basking Ridge Historical Society (Basking Ridge, Bernards
Township), 1976
5 Berkeley Heights Historical Society (Berkeley Heights
Township), 1977-1980
6 Blenheim Hotel (Atlantic City), 1978
7 Buccleuch Mansion (New Brunswick), 1979
8* Burrows Mansion (Matawan), 1977-1981
9* Carriage House–Clinton Curtis (Morristown), 1979
10* Clinton Historical–Grandin Library (Clinton), 1977-1978
11 Clinton Museum–Bids and Other Data, 1978-1979
12* Clinton Museum–Old File–"Red Mill 5," 1964-1965
13-18* Clinton Museum, 1978-1980
19-22* Crescent Avenue Historic District (Plainfield), 1980-1981
23 DiMiceli, J. (Scotch Plains Township), 1979
24 Denville Survey (Denville), 1979-1980
25 Diver, C. (Avon), 1980
26 Diver's House (Avon), 1980
27 Durrand-Hedden House (Maplewood), 1979
28* Eld, Wendell (Lamington, Bedminster Township), 1973
29 Elizabeth, City of–Cultural Resource Study, 1980
30 Elliott, W.P.–Old Stansberry House (Scotch Plains Township),
31 English Neighborhood Historical Society (Maywood), 1979
32 "Eoff" Farmstead–R. Brooks & Associates (Pluckemin,
Bedminster Township), 1977-1979
33* Facade Program, 304-308 Front St. (Plainfield), 1979
34* Facade Program, 435 Park Avenue (Plainfield), 1979
35-38* Friends Meeting House (Plainfield), 1954-1980

*For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


1 General Historic Site Survey Evaluation, 1980
2 Gladis, Joseph W. (Westfield), 1978
3 Glen Ridge Historical Society, 1977
4 Goett–Lake Avenue (Clark), 1979
5* Gutherz Research Property (Oldwick, Tewksbury Township), 1979
6 Gural–Old Coach Road (Summit), 1979
7 Hartman, Lois (Georgetown, Mansfield Township), 1980
8-10* Highland Falls (Highland Falls, New York), 1979-1980
11 Historic American Buildings Survey–Library of Congress,
12 Hoser House Restoration (Harmony Township), 1981
13 Hillside Historical Society, Inc., 1978-1979
14 Ivy Hall [Cornelius Low House] (Piscataway Township), 1979
15 Jersey City–City Hall, 1979
16 Johnson & Johnson–Riverview (New Brunswick), 1980
17 Kearny Cottage Historical Association (Perth Amboy), 1978-1979
18 Kellers–Ryders Lane (Milltown, etc.) & Morris Ave. (Spring-
field Township)–Surveys, 1979-1983
19 Kita, Henry (Plainfield), 1978
20 Lagos, Dr. John M. (Chatham Township), 1977
21 Lebanon Township–School Houses, 1979
22* Merchants & Drovers Inn–Rahway Historical Society, 1969-1980
23 Metuchen Meeting, 1978-1979
24* Mills, Timothy House (Morristown), 1977-1978
25 Middletown–Bowne House (Leonardo, Middletown Township), 1980
26 Millington House–George St. (New Brunswick), 1978
27 Monday Afternoon Club (Plainfield), 1980
28 Montclair Survey–J. Kellers, 1980
29* Morristown, 1980
30-31 National Trust Talk, 1980
32 Nevius Homestead (Bedminster), 1975
33-34 New Brunswick Historic District–Hiram Market Area, 1980
35 "New Brunswick Tomorrow", 1980
36 New Providence Historical Society, 1974
37* North Avenue (Plainfield), 1980
38 North Plainfield Historical Society, 1974
[map case only] Oakey House
39 Octagon House (Port Monmouth, Middletown Township), 1979
40-41 Old Bridge Township, 1980-1981
42 Olde Towne, Vandeveer-Knox House–Hoes Lane, 1974-1978
43-48* Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Towne], 1973-1981

*For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


1-3* Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Town], 1973-1981 [continued]
4 Our Lady of Fatima–Phyphe House (Piscataway Township), 1977
5* Paterson College (Wayne), 1978
6-9* Perth Amboy, 1978-1979
10 Plainfield Historic Preservation, 1980
11 Plainfield–S & T Restaurant, 1980
12-13* Plainfield Downtown Development, 1978-1979
14 Plainfield Historic Review Committee, 1980
15-16* Poricy Park Citizens Committee (Middletown), 1975-1979
17 Preservation Plainfield, 1979
18 Rahway Library, 1978
19 Robinson House (Clark), 1979
20 Runyon Funeral Home (Plainfield), 1978
21 Saddle River Survey, 1980
22 Scotch Hills (Scotch Plains Township), 1979
23 Scotch Plains, 1975
24-27* Shoal Harbor–Spy House (Port Monmouth, Middletown Township),
28 Slocum House (Fanwood), 1979-1980
29 South Bound Brook Municipal Building, 1978
30* Spann, Max (Washington Township), 1978
31 Straus House (Atlantic Highlands), 1980-1981
32 Terrell, Mrs. Virginia (Plainfield), 1973
33 Thomson, George S. (Somerville), 1978
34-35 Unitarian Fellowship–Thorne Mansion (Morris Township), 1980
36-37* Van Bunschooten House (Wantage Township), 1974-1980

*For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


1* Van Bunschooten House (Wantage Township), 1974-1980 [continued]
2-4* Van Duyne House (Wayne), 1976-1979
5 Walker, Allen–Janis House (Mahwah Township), 1978
6 Williamson, John House (Edison Township), 1978-1980
7 Zimmerman, Todd (Cherryville, Franklin Township, Hunterdon
County), 1980
[see also box 5 and map folders]
8-9 Route 55 Environmental Impact Study (Gloucester County), 1978
10-15 Route 78 Environmental Impact Study, 1975-1976
16 Sussex Turnpike (Morris County), 1981
17-20 Old Bridge Historic District, 1977-1978
21-22 Franklin Borough (Sussex County)–Sewage Facility Expansion
–Environmental Impact Study, 1979
23 Highland Falls/Fort Montgomery Proposed Sewage Facilities, 1980
24-25 Ogdensburg Sewage Facility Expansion–Environmental Impact
Study, 1979
26 Franklin & Ogdensburg Environment Impact Studies–Miscellaneous
27 Upper Walkill Basin–Realigned Sewage Facilities–Cultural
Resource Survey, 1979
28 Fourth Annual Conference on Preservation and Restoration of
Old Houses,Princeton, 1980

*For related oversize material, see boxes 6 and 7


[see also box 4 and map folders]
1 I-287 Alternate 1 Environment Studies, Montville & Pequannock,
2 I-287 Correspondence–Final Report–Field Survey Notes, 1977
3 I-287 Correspondence (to Weck) Historic Architectural Analysis
(Suffern) [and Finances], 1980
4 I-287 Correspondence and Weck Instructions, 1977
5 I-287 Cultural Resource Survey–Architectural Analysis,
6 I-287 Field Notes and Rough Drafts
7 I-287 Final Report
8 I-287 Final Retyped Reports
9 I-287 Financial Information, 1977-1981
10 I-287 Ford Mansion (Morristown), 1975
11 I-287 Historic Archaeology Survey (Montville-NY State Thruway)
[and Notes], 1977-1979
12-14 I-287 Miscellaneous
15 I-287 Montville-Riverdale–Architectural Survey, 1980
16 I-287 Montville-Riverdale–Environmental Impact Study
17 I-287 Montville-Suffern Historic Archaeology Survey, 1977-1978
18-19 I-287 Montville-Suffern Historic Architecture Analysis
20 I-287 Montville-Suffern Historic Architecture Supplement, 1980
21 I-287 New York State Section, 1971-1980
22 I-287 Originals and Changes to Report, 1981-1983
23 I-287 Suffern Area–Research Material
24 I-287 Survey Reports and Field Notes
25-26 I-287 Wayne Township, 1978-1982
27 I-287 Working Maps & Notes


[see also boxes 1-4 and 7]
1 Acorn Hall (Morristown), 1979
2 Burrowns Mansion (Matawan), 1975
3 Carriage House–Clinton Curtis (Morristown), 1979
4 Clinton Historical–Grandin Library (Clinton), 1978
5 Clinton Museum–Bids and Other Data, 1978
6 Clinton Museum–Old File, 1964-1965
7 Clinton Museum, 1965-1978
8 Clinton Museum, 1978
9 Crescent Avenue Historic District (Plainfield), 1927
10 Eld, Wendell (Lamington, Bedminster Township), 1952
11 Facade Program, 304-308 Front St. (Plainfield), 1952 and 1979
12 Facade Program, 435 Park Avenue (Plainfield), 1979
13 Friends Meeting House (Plainfield), 1954-1962
14 Gutherz Research Property (Oldwick, Tewksbury Township), 1979
15 Highland Falls (Highland Falls, New York), 1979-1980
16 Merchants & Drovers Inn–Rahway Historical Society, 1953-1972
17 Mills, Timothy House (Morristown), 1977-1978
18 Morristown, 1980
19 North Avenue (Plainfield), 1974
20-24 Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Towne], 1973-1981
25 Our Lady of Fatima–Phyphe House (Piscataway Township), 1977


[see also boxes 1-4 and 6]
1 Paterson College (Wayne), 1978
2 Perth Amboy, 1978-1979
3 Plainfield Downtown Development, 1978-1979
4 Poricy Park Citizens Committee (Middletown), 1975-1979
5 Shoal Harbor–Spy House (Port Monmouth, Middletown Township),
6 Spann, Max (Washington Township), 1980
7 Van Bunschooten House (Wantage Township), 1973-1975
8 Van Duyne House (Wayne), 1976-1979


Case [see also boxes 4-5]
1-7 Route 287 (Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike)
8 Route 55
9 Site Surveys and Building Restorations
Oakey House, 1976
Clinton Museum–Red Mill, 1978
Olde Towne [East Jersey Olde Towne] (East Brunswick map)
Badgley House–"Westfield in Revolutionary Times" (map)
Old Bridge Township, undated

Plainfield Library

The History of the Charles Detwiller Blueprint Collection
This unique collection originated with the enactment of an 1896 Plainfield municipal ordinance requiring the safekeeping of architectural drawings filed in application for building permits.

The City changed its retention requirements in 1970, and the original drawings were moved to the Wardlaw School for storage. After the duCret School of Art took ownership of the building, the drawings had to be moved again. Local architect Charles H. Detwiller Jr. stored them for several years, until 1982, when he was able to arrange for their transfer to the Plainfield Public Library.

This incredible architectural resource continues to grow through periodic transfers made by the City's Division of Inspections and through donations of drawings privately held by homeowners.

There are now 15,000 sets of drawings in the Detwiller collection, documenting over 100 years of residential and commercial architecture in the Plainfield area.

Despite the depth of the collection, not every property is included. In some cases drawings exist only for add-ons like garage or attic remodels, but not for the original structure. One reason for these gaps is that at the time the drawings were released from the City's jurisdiction, property owners were allowed to take the drawings of their own buildings.

Although the majority of drawings are of Plainfield buildings and date from 1896, there are exceptions. Some earlier drawings, donated by homeowners, are of structures that predate the building permits. Also, Detwiller's personal drawings represent clients from a variety of Plainfield-area communities.

Approximately 500 architects are represented in the collection. Drawings by early 20th century African-American architect Edward R. Williams and by British architect Element W. Fairweather are in the collection. Architects Charles Smith and George Ernest Robinson are both represented by local buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

These drawings reflect changing architectural styles through the years. Plainfield's eight historic districts reveal virtually every important style of American residential architecture, ranging from Victorian to English Cottage to Sears Catalog. The availability of these drawings has played an important role in the rebirth of the residential neighborhoods.

The collection includes drawings of important community structures, such as Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center and Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, both of which have recently undergone renovations. Several buildings on the National Register, such as the Plainfield Fire Headquarters and the Plainfield Railroad Depot are also included.

To save the Detwiller collection for future generations while eliminating the problems of theft and damage, the blueprints and drawings have been microfilmed. To provide faster and easier public access to the collection, they have also been digitized. Homeowners and researchers now have images and data at their fingertips through their home computers.

921 Hillside Avenue

Plainfield Public Library
Detwiller Archives

Collection Detwiller
Title Ayre Residence
Description Kitchen alteration and new garage for Ayre residence. Between Hillside Avenue and Lake Street.
Building Type Residence
Work Type Alteration and/or Addition
Elevation Yes
Condition Acceptable
Blueprint ID D-12541
Permit NOP309
Year of Permit 1954
Microfilm Roll 0245
Microfilm Frame 0562
Condition 1003
Address 921 Hillside Avenue
Historic District
City Plainfield
Architect Charles H Detwiller Jr
Architect Firm
Owner Luther Ayre
Business Owner
City of Plainfield
Planning Department
Historic District Addresses
Address 917-921 Hillside Avenue
Block 814
Lot 20
Year Built 1921
Architectural Style Period Revival
Historic District Hillside Avenue

Plainfield Public Library Archive


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plainfield Public Library Archive

Plainfield Public Library Archive

Plainfield Public Library Archive

June 13, 2012 Email from Rick Detwiller

Subject: Re: Plainfield Garden Club New "Contact Us" submission from Frederic C. Detwiller
From: "Frederic C.Detwiller" <>
Date: Tue, June 12, 2012 3:51 pm
To: "Info" <>
Cc: "Debbie D. Smith" <> (more)

Dear Susan,

Thank you very much for getting back to me so soon with the information on the website. I have seen my mother Cath Detwiller's page but lately it was the only one I had needed the password, etc. to view. I have seen Aunt Dot Davis's and my grandmother Mabel Campbell's along with all the great photos of Hillcrest in Watchung as well as my Great Aunt Laura Detwiller's page. I also enjoyed browsing through lots of old friends pages. It is a great trip down Plainfield and Scotch Plains' memory lane. You have done a great job putting all these items together and posting them on-line!

Attached are several jpegs of members I happen to have on hand:

1) Cath Detwiller' and her portrait by Gerry Acomb.
2) Aunt Laura Cecelia Detwiller's self portrait ca. 1885 as she appeared when she lit the fireworks display for the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. (I also have a photo of her in her garden on Hillside Ave. in Plainfield when she was a garden club member and will send a jpeg along when I dig it out).
3) Detail photo of Cath (Detwiller) and Dorothy Campbell (Davis) in the
garden at Hillcrest.
4) Several photos of members of the Plainfield Garden Club at Cath
Detwiller's ca.1965 garden party at our Clarke's Lane Farm in Scotch Plains.


Rick D.

1885 Laura C. Detwiller

Email correspondence

sent in by Rick Detwiller, June 13, 2012

Dear Susan -

I thought you would enjoy those photos and I'm glad they will be fun for the older members to see. I know that Betty Horn, Valentine Fort, Toni Mann, Peggy Brower Newberry-Burger, Betty Fitzpatrick, June Barlow and Dot Davis are among the group and it's good to know you recognized Mrs. Seybolt. I'm sure Mrs. Sandford will be glad to see so many friends with herself among them!

Laura Detwiller was Dad's Aunt - she was his father's sister. Attached are a few more of her watercolors she did when she lived in Greenville, NJ that you may want to add to her page. We have lots of them, but most are now in the collection of the Bronx Botanical Garden. Also attached is a picture of Dad, Charles H. Detwiller, Jr. with his mother Ethel Hassel Detwiller in what I believe is Aunt Laura Detwiller's garden at 971 Hillside Ave. in Plainfield when she would have been a Garden Club member. Aunt Laura or Charles Sr. must have taken the photo since I have another one of her in the garden, probably taken at the same time. I'll send that second photo along with more garden club related material as I find it.


Rick D.

1888 c. Pansies LCD.jpg

1892 LCD Lake George

1892 Lake George LCD

1890 c. JJD ptg NH of LCD

1892 Garden Weeds, LCD

Charles H Detwiller Jr & Mother Ethel Hassell Detwiller in Laura Det's garden Plfd NJ ca. 1940 FCD 1943

June 13, 2012 Email from Rick Detwiller

I¹m glad you enjoyed that batch. Here are a few more. 'Hope we don't
overload the system. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Aunt Laura and her paintings, etc. (one of mushrooms attached).

1) Photo of Laura Cecelia Detwiller in her bedroom at Bay Manor, Danforth

2) Laura C. Det's 1889 watercolor of the same room, Greenville, NJ.

I also found a couple of portraits of members for your facebook album

1. Laura C. Detwiller Portrait 1885 (I'll send along a 1930s one when I find
2. Mabel R. Campbell Portrait ca. 1915.

That¹ all (for now) folks!

Rick D.

Photo of Laura Cecelia Detwiller in her bedroom at Bay Manor, Danforth

Laura C. Det's 1889 watercolor of the same room, Greenville, NJ.

Laura C. Detwiller Portrait 1885

Mabel R. Campbell Portrait ca. 1915

Laura C. Detwiller Mushroom Painting

June 13, 2012 Email from Rick Detwiller

'Glad people are enjoying these as much as we are. Attached is the jpeg of Laura C. Detwiller. For some reason it was still in PhotoShop so that explains the download problem. It should be fine this time.

I thought you'd also like to see our Swiss cousin Alfred Seiler's cartoon of the 1928 Plainfield Horse Show It shows Freddie, Dad's sister Marguerite Detwiller (Harwood) , and I think one of the Wigton girls who fell off the horse and landed in the mud puddle. Also attached is a photo ca.May-June 1954 of Krolls, Detwillers, Campbells, Wigtons and Stuarts et al watching a neighborhood horseshow. Not necessarily Garden Club, but classics!
(l. To r. Gordon Stuart, Nancy Dwinnell Kroll, Laurie Detwiller, Bill
Wigton, Steve Kroll, Rick Detwiller, Cindy Kroll, and Bill Campbell. Cath
Detwiller and Jean Stuart standing behind fence)


Rick D.

Det Kids Krolls Horseshow may-june 1954.jpg

June 26, 2012 PGC Visits Laura Detwiller's Archives at the NYBG


June 26, 2012 Email to Rick Detwiller

Subject: Laura Cecelia Detwiller
From: "Info" <>
Date: Tue, June 26, 2012 7:58 pm

Hi Rick:

Your mention last week in one of your emails of believing Laura
Detwiller's botanical paintings had been donated to the "Bronx Garden" had me thinking that perhaps that was your synonym for the New York Botanical Garden.

As fate would have it, a group of us had long planned to go to the NYBG's Monet display today. As we entered the 6th floor lobby, there were two doors. The door to the right was the entrance to the Monet exhibit featuring some rarely seen and beautiful Monet paintings. The door to the left was the library entrance. I explained to my fellow garden club members what you had written and we couldn't resist the chance. All five us entered the library.

At the desk, I inquired of the librarian if there was a way to look up
some information on a former garden club member who "maybe" had some of her botanical art donated to the NYBG. The librarian said she wouldn't be able to help us and the archivist was out of town. And then she asked, "What was this person's name?" When I replied, "Detwiller" she exclaimed, "Oh, yes. We have quite the collection!"

We were then treated to two boxes of the watercolours (there are seven more boxes) and we took a few photos I thought I would share with you. Enjoy! Susan Fraser

June 26, 2012 New York Botanical Library

New York Botanical Newsletter dated Spring 1981

NYBG Newsletter Spring 1981

New York Botanical Libraray

NYBG newsletter article, Spring 1981

Detwiller Donation

Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Detwiller of Plainfield, N.J. have donated to the Research Library more than a thousand watercolor paintings and sketches of wildflowers by Mr. Detwiller's aunt, Laura Detwiller, made from 1890 to 1910. Miss Detwiller visited many of the "Grand Tour" countries of Europe and the Mid-East, as well as California and other sections of North America. A skilled amateur artist, she produced highly accurate representations of all the wildflowers she encountered on her journeys, each carefully identified and dated. The sketching of natural history subjects on Grand Tours was a popular pastime among young women in Victorian times, and the Detwiller collection is a classic example of this graceful art form. The sketches will be used for exhibit and are available for loan to other institutions.

June 26, 2012 PGC visits the NYBG

Marie Long, NYBG librarian (green sweater) shows the Plainfield Garden Club two of the nine boxes of Laura Detwiller watercolors.

Jeanne Turner, Kathy Andrews, Tucker Trimble and Sally Booth

by Laura Detwiller Trenton NJ May 23, 1894

Poison Ivy

by Laura Detwiller Greenville NJ September 1895

Smooth Winterberry

June 26, 2012 Plainfield GC Visits the Laura Detwiller archives

Jeanne Turner, Tucker Trimble, Kathy Andrews and Sally Booth

by Laura Detwiller Arlington, Staten Island May 24, 1908

Yellow Thistle

by Laura Detwiller New York Bay, October 1892

by Laura Detwiller Fanwood, NJ May 30, 1896


by Laura Detwiller Fanwood NJ May 30, 1896

by Laura Detwiller Greenville, NJ September 1897

Climbing Hempweed

June 26, 2012 New York Botanical Garden Library

One of the Nine archival boxes that house Laura Detwiller's paintings.

The paintings are filed in alphabetical order according to the botanical or latin name of the plant rendered.

by Laura Detwiller New York Bay, Greenville July 1892

Hedge Bindweed

by Laura Detwiller

"Sep - May" Dogwood

June 26, 2012 Correspondence to the NYBG Library

Subject: Laura Cecelia Detwiller
From: "" <>
Date: Tue, June 26, 2012 6:09 pm

Dear Ms. Long,

Thank you so much for your assistance today with the Laura Cecelia
Detwiller archival paintings. We greatly enjoyed seeing them and learning more about how the NYBG came to obtain them.

You can view Miss Laura Cecelia Detwiller's on line archives at this
direct link of our website

You mentioned that you were interested in the Shakespeare Garden the club maintains in Plainfield, New Jersey. The garden was designed by the Olmsted Brothers Architectural firm and installed in 1927 in Cedar Brook Park, Plainfield. It has been maintained these past 85 years by the Plainfield Garden Club. We have some photos on line and hope to add more for public view as we expand our website. I have attached a few photos that were taken May 23, 2012.

The garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and
recognized by the State of New Jersey as Site #54 on the state's Women's Heritage Trail.

The Plainfield Garden Club was established almost 100 years ago and is a member club of the Garden Club of America, headquartered in New York.

While visiting the Monet exhibit, we wondered if another illustrious
member of the Plainfield Garden Club, Mrs. Alice Howard Harding, had known Monet. She was a frequent visitor to France and a friend of the French horticulturist Lemoine. In 1928 the French Government made her a Chevalier du Merite Agricole in recognition of her achievements in horticulture. In addition to wondering if she knew Monet (she was personal friends with Gertrude Jekyll) we are wondering if the NYBG has any other documents pertaining to Mrs. Harding?

Here is the direct link for our on line archive of Alice Howard Harding:

Thank you again for lending us your expertise. We apologize for the
"smatterings" of our on line archives, but we just scan what we can as we open boxes from members basements and attics!

The Ladies of the Plainfield Garden Club

June 28, 2012 Email from the New York Botanical Garden

Subject: RE: Laura Cecelia Detwiller
From: "Long, Marie" <>
Date: Thu, June 28, 2012 9:11 am
To: "''" <>

Dear Ladies of the Plainfield Garden Club,

What an amazing, impressive and wonderful website you have. Now I must make a vertical file for the Plainfield Garden Club, as well as for your Shakespeare Garden! Thank you for sending the information and links.

I will have my assistant scan George W. Peyton's obituary of Alice Howard Harding from the "American Peony Society Bulletin" and the entry from John Hendley Barnhart's "Biographical Notes Upon Botanists."

With kind regards,
Marie Long
Reference Librarian
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden

June 28, 2012 EMail from Frederic Detwiller

Subject: Re: Laura Cecelia Detwiller
From: "Frederic C.Detwiller"
Date: Thu, June 28, 2012 7:39 pm

Hi Susan,

Right, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Thank you for sending along the photos and copies of the information on your serendipitous visit. I have the information on the gift somewhere here in a file. It is good to see some of the thousand other watercolors, since we only kept a few favorites for the family. By the way, I should tell you that we do still also have a book of her actual botanical specimens collected all over the place including some specimens from the Pope's window box in the Vatican (not kidding!). This stuff is just endless.

I will take a few more photos of any important items as I find them, but for now, here is a copy of a painting that her cousin Emil Seiler from Switzerland gave her that I think must have been one of her favorites. We also have more of her other non-garden club related items - two items attached of Bay Manor in Greenville ( sister Debbie has the fountain from the bay window, and Laurie has the Swiss painting of the Alps). Thought you would get a kick out if the ancient "PhotoShop" portrait from a photo of Laura and her brothers Charles and Clarence for which we have an account book entry dated
1873. She also painted Mohonk Mountain House and many other subjects including Saltiillo, Mexico. Enough for a book on her!


Rick D.

1882 Emil Seiler Butterfly Paintg to Laura Cecelia Detwiller

1889 Detwiller House N.J. in Fountain Bay

1889 Interior Bedroom 1 NJ House Laura Cecelia Detwiller

1873 Detwiller Children Portrait Before & After red

Subject: Re: Laura Cecelia Detwiller
From: "Frederic C.Detwiller" <>
Date: Mon, July 2, 2012 12:28 pm
To: "Info" <>

Hi Susan -

Glad people like the photos/graphics. Attached is the last antique
"PhotoShop" one done around 1873. Laurie has the original portrait, and I found the old photo among the archives here. I'll send along the Pope's flower box sample and some other specimen copies when I dig them out.


Rick D.

140. The great bridge at night

That evening there was a spectacular display of fireworks on by Detwiller & Street, Pyrotechnics, a New York firm contracted by the Bridge Company. At 8:00 P.M. Miss Laura Detwiller applied the torch to the first flight of fifty rockets, the beginning salvo in a roaring display that lasted one hour. DFor the grand finale, 500 monster rockets were set off together with a thunderous explosion, producing a shower of millions of stars and golden rain which descended upon the bridger and river. As the last star disappeared in the water and the last spark died in the air, the whistles of the ferryboats saluted the new bridge, a salue which was taken up by all the other steamers in the river; for five minutes the air was filled with the din and screeching of whistles. As teh final dramatic touch, according to the New York Tribune, "The moon rose slowly over the Brooklyn tower and sent a broad beam like a benediction across the river." 141. The bridge in advertising. At midnight, as the gates were opened to the public, the New York Times diligently recorded every "first" on the bridge: the first baby, the first beggar, the first drunken man (he collapsed opposite Franklin Square), the first love scene, etc. Advertisers also took up this mania to be first across the bridge. Thus, Dr. Scott's ad for electric hair brushes (not made of wire like the bridge but of pure bristles) tossed truth-in-advertising to the winds by claiming that his wagon was the "first and heaviest load to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. . . President Arthur remarked that he would rather be Dr. Scott than President."

1954 Check Book

No. 1069
March 17, 1954
Garden Club of America
memorial to Miss Laura Detwiller

No. 1070
Mar. 8, 1954
Fanny K. Day
Program expenses
rental of projector etc

No. 1071
Mar 17, 1954
Mrs. Albert L. Stillman
exhibition in N.Y. Show

Residence (side and rear view) of Charles H. Detwiller, 151 East Seventh Street

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

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

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

publication circa 1917

Columbia University Library Archives

Series 3: Personal Papers

Subseries A: Childhood Drawings

Materials include two sketchbooks and loose drawings done between 1874-1879.

These materials are arranged chronologically.

Box 1 [Sailing Ship.]
1 item: Graphite on paper.Inscription and date on verso.
1874 Nov 16

Box 3 Drawing Book #1.
1 item: Bound sketchbook, with brown marbled cover.Includes drawing exercises of such subjects as New York Harbor and Newark Bay scenes, sailing ships, animals, and the Detwiller residence in Jersey City, NJ.
1874 Dec-circa 1875

Box 3 Drawing Book #2.
1 item: Bound sketchbook, with green marbled cover.Includes Declaration of Independence, sailing ships, plans of Detwiller residence, Jersey City, NJ.
1876 Dec-circa 1879

DR Central Railroad of New Jersey, Engine no. 96.
1 item: Graphite on paper. 1879

Subseries B: Diaries

Box 3 Brief diary.
1 item: Bound diary.Includes entries about Columbia classes, pleasure activities, newsworthy events, and opening of Brooklyn (East River) Bridge in 1883.

Subseries C: Memorabilia
Box 2 Charles H. Detwiller on horse, "Dexter."
1 item: Gelatin silver photographic print. circa 1880

Box 1 Travel sketch, Sugar Mill Ruin, New Smyrna, Florida.
1 item: Watercolor on paper. circa 1890-1910

Box 1 Scrapbook.
1 item: Bound scrapbook.Includes letterhead for Detwiller & Melendy; article about Jersey City Woman's Club, designed by Detwiller; wedding and social invitations and notices, obituaries, Columbia University ephemera.
circa 1875-1940

Box 1 Detwiller & Street. Price List of the Brilliant Excelsion Fireworks.
1 item: Cyanotype on paper.Includes view of Brooklyn Bridge opening celebration fireworks display on last page.
circa 1883-1885

Box 1 Detwiller, Jacob J., Residence. Danforth Avenue, Greenville [Jersey City], New Jersey.
1 item: Sepia albumen print on paper.With manuscript note, "Old Detwiler Homested, Danforth Ave., Green Ville, NJ. (now part of Jersey City). Picture taken about 1880-1900. J. J. Detwiller on porch. Tower was lookout to "The Bay." Later contained mineral collection.

1936 - 1937 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.

July 18, 2013 Drake House

The current exhibit at The Drake House Museum is titled "Forty Years on The National Register of Historic Places." The Nathaniel Drake House was registered on June 19, 1973, by Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., who was an architect and former president of the Historical Society of Plainfield.

Mr. Detwiller's wife, is of course PGC Member Cath Campbell Detwiller. Cath, in her 90's now, joined the PGC in 1957 and was recently bestowed the title "Honorary" member of The Club. To read about the Campbell-Detwiller contributions to not only The Club, but to all of Plainfield, click Cath's link and those below.

Detwiller, Miss Laura Cecelia '29
Campbell, Mrs. William Hall (Mabel C. Raper) '28
Davis, Mrs. F. Edgar (Dorothy Campbell) '60

Upcoming Fall Exhibit and Special Programs at Drake House

1954 - 1970 296 Images from Plainfield Library Scrapbook

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'

August 30, 2014 Charles Detwiller & The Architects of Plainfield

Exhibit of Detwiller Collection drawings opens at Library

The Plainfield Public Library is mounting an exhibition from its Detwiller Collection of architectural drawings in honor of New Jersey's 350th anniversary.

Plainfield architect Charles H. Detwiller, Jr., [Husband of PGC Honorary Member Mrs. Charles H. (Catherine or "Cath" Campbell) Detwiller, Jr. '57] is credited with rescuing thousands of architectural drawings that were being disposed of by the City by dumping from an upper floor window at City Hall into a dumpster in the parking lot.

The collection of over 16,000 items representing over 500 architects documents over a century of residential and commercial architecture in the Plainfield area. Its record of the architectural history of a suburban community is unique in the United States.

Among its outstanding items of interest are drawings of the Fire Headquarters on Central Avenue designed by African-American architect George Ernest Robinson, designed in 1925 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The exhibit culls 70 pieces from thirty-five sets of drawings by 24 architects. It is displayed on walls and in display cases on both levels of the Library.

Preservation of these aging documents began in 1998. The conservation and digitizing of the collection is still ongoing. This work is entirely supported through grant funding and volunteer efforts. Local funders include the Plainfield Foundation and the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library.

The exhibit opens September 2 and runs through October during regular library hours. For more information on the Detwiller Collection, contact Sarah Hull, head of the Local History Department at (908) 757-1111 x136.

To arrange group visits, call (908) 757-1111 x129. The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots.

In addition to Mr. Detwiller's wife, Cath, his aunt, mother-in-law and sister-in-law were all Notable Members of the Plainfield Garden Club.

Miss Laura Cecelia Detwiller '29
Mrs. William Hall (Mabel C. Raper) Campbell '28
Mrs. F. Edgar (Dorothy Campbell) Davis '60

Good architecture and good gardening are two things that go together well. No where is this better demonstrated than in the families that formed the Plainfield Garden Club.

Here is an excerpt from an article about the building of the Nebraska State Capitol:

McKim, Mead & White Architects of New York had designed the Rhode Island State House in Providence, Rhode Island that was constructed from 1895–1904. McKim, Mead & White was one of the most prestigious and internationally recognized architectural firms of this era. The firm was a major training ground for other prominent architects of the period.

Tracy & Swartwout of New York had designed the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri that was constructed from 1913 –1917. Both Evarts Tracy and Egerton Swartwout were former associates of McKim, Mead & White.

Of the other eight teams in the competition including John Russell Pope of New York, Bertram Goodhue of New York, Paul Cret in association with Zantzinger, Borie & Medary of Philadelphia, Harold Van Buren Magonigle of New York, and Bliss & Faville of San Francisco, Ellery Davis of Lincoln, John Latenser & Sons of Omaha, and Allan McDonald of Omaha several individual architects had worked for McKim, Meade & White at one time or another including Magonigle and Bliss.

No doubt many of these famous early 20th century American architects were more than familiar with Plainfield and the garden club. In addition to Mr. Detwiller, here are member files that chronicle these architects:

Mead, Mrs. Frederick Goodhue (Marie Louise Myers) '15
Tracy, Mrs. Evarts '22
Tracy, Mrs. Howard Crosby (Minerva Bingham Lamson) '15
Tracy, Mrs. J. Evarts (Caroline Frederica Streuli) '22
de Hart, Mrs. Alden (Dorothy Voorhis) '38, President 1949 - 1950

Dr. Albert K. Detwiller

Dr. Albert K. Detwiller

Monday Afternoon Club Membership

Monday Afternoon Club Membership

October 8, 2014 Email Received

Hi - My name is Beth.

I was doing some web searching on a watercolor painting I found in my father's files. It is in horrendous shape. 100 years old. I am wondering if it is by Laura Detwiller. I understand through your website that she was associated with the PGC and you have some of her work. The examples you had on your website looked similar in style, and one had the same town (Fanwood) in lower right of painting. Although my painting is not signed, it has a unique marking of initials. I wonder if you could tell me if you have seen any of her works with similar marking , and any other thoughts . I can send you the a picture of the painting and the marking- but not sure how to do it through your website.

I would appreciate any information you have.

thank you,

Dear Beth,

Thank you very much for contacting us regarding your painting. I, or other members in the Club, would not be qualified to verify if it was painted by Miss Detwiller. However, I may be able to direct you to someone that could identify the initials, etc.

If you read our online profile of Miss Detwiller, you know that her family donated the bulk of her art to the New York Botanical Garden. A few years ago, several of us went to see her file. The librarians there would most certainly be able to compare a photograph of your painting with the works they have there on file.

We are also in contact with Miss Detwiller's nephew. He, too, could most likely identify the painting.

Two other resources would be the Plainfield Library and Swain Gallery here in Plainfield. Both places are very familiar with the very talented Detwiller family.

If you could take a picture of it and sent it digitally to this email address, we would love to see the image.

The librarian that helped us:
Marie Long
Reference Librarian
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden

If you need contact information for the Plainfield Library or Swain Gallery, please just let me know. I will also forward your email to Mr. Detwiller.

Best of luck to you and please consider forwarding the image.

Susan Fraser
Communications Chairman

October 8, 2014 Email Received

Thank you for your quick response. Attached is picture of is not typical of the botanical works you have on your website. But timing and location "fit".

I also sent note to NYBG. But have not heard back.

Thank you for the information


1915 - 1965 History of the Plainfield Garden Club

"The school children had drawn lovely silhouettes of the trees, and hanging on the wall beside each one, was a living branch in a container of water. These branches were supplied by the Shade Tree Commission. Beautiful colored slides of the following members' gardens were shown; Mrs. C. Boardman Tyler, Mrs. William S. Tyler and Mrs. A. D. Seybold, with Miss Margaret Tyler commenting. Afterwards one woman said, "I didn't know there was so much beauty in Plainfield."

Two hundred adults and over seven hundred children attended the show, which also included a puppet show, a movie and exquisite water colors of trees by the late Miss Laura Detwiller.

Living Memorials
In 1945 we began honoring our deceased members with gifts of money to the Garden Club of America's Redwood Memorial Grove in California. By 1961 our fund had grown to $200.00 – enough to "buy" a tree. What a trifling sum to pay for one of these magnificent Redwoods which Charles Steinbeck has called, "mute ambassadors from another age which create a vision that stays with you always . . . a stunning memory of what the world was like once long ago."

Also, that same year we were a Founder of the Blue Star Memorial Drive on Highway 22. "Our members contributed generously to this beautiful tribute to the men who served in the armed forces." Mrs. Anderegg records, "Flowering trees were planted of members' sons lost in the war."

Christmas Wreaths
One Christmas during World War II, we made 214 wreaths and 400 boutonnieres of "enduring greens gay with bright accents of color" for Camp Kilmer. We used two tons of evergreens, spent an estimated 400 hours making the wreaths and worked in assembly-line technique at Mrs. C. Boardman Tyler's studio were "a fire crackled merrily in the stove and the smell of Christmas was everywhere". Numb arm muscles, taut backs and blackened hands were disregarded in the joy of working together. For years, Mrs. John S. Anderegg was head of this project.

When Camp Kilmer was no longer functioning, we made wreaths for Lyons Hospital. In 1951, the members were described as engaging in a "colossal project of wreath making, reaching a state of frenzy." The next year the wreath-making was confined to one very long day and described as "fun", but for the last time. From then on, we sent money for the purchase of Christmas greens.

1950 was the year we started the annual custom of creating gift packages of cigarettes for the patients at Lyons. Those imaginative, beautiful packages (which the patients used as decorations), were always displayed at our Christmas meeting, and sometimes judged. Many a member, not so nimble fingered as others, was rumored to have stayed away from that meeting! In 1964, cigarettes went out of favor and hard candies, cleverly wrapped as tree ornaments, were substituted.

August 8, 2015

Library offers trove of vintage Plainfield home blueprints for sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detwiller, Miss Laura Cecelia '29

And Mr. Detwiller's in-laws:

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

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

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