Author Archives: Janet Markman

Visitors Center Construction to Begin at Grover Cleveland Birthplace, Caldwell, New Jersey

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association is proud to announce that after many years of planning and development, the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Visitors Center will be built this year. The contractor, Santorini Construction, Inc., has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry – the agency that manages the State Historic Site at 207 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell, New Jersey. Completing a project in the works for the last 10 years, the GCBMA has been working with the State of New Jersey to build a new Visitors Center and many agencies have been involved, including the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of Parks and Forestry, the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, and the Division of Building and Construction.

A planning grant awarded to the GCBMA from the New Jersey Historic Trust, combined with funds provided by the GCBMA, paid for the architectural design, survey, permits, soil testing, stabilization, and other planning costs. When completed, the GCBMA will furnish the birthplace and equip the center. Funding these construction expenses mixed state money with donations, membership fees, and fundraising activities organized by the GCBMA.

The Visitors Center will provide space for educational programs about Grover Cleveland and his role in American History, a gift store, additional museum displays, meeting rooms, and restrooms. It will serve as a reception area for individuals and school groups when visiting the Birthplace. The circa 1832 Birthplace is the “Old Manse” of the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell where Cleveland’s father served as the minister.

The Visitors Center will be a very welcome addition to New Jersey history and tourism. First, it is a heritage tourism site which has grown from 600 to 6,000 visitors a year. Second, it will be able to serve more people with visits from school classes, senior citizens, and tourists who want to see the attraction and an example of suburban America in a historic downtown. Third, the tourists will feel safer without having to worry about crossing a street to park or to use a restroom. Fourth, the center will provide a meeting place for civic groups, historical and cultural organizations, and expanded programming for the community. The new facility will have a capacity for 106 guests with 49 more spaces in the second phase. Fifth, the visitor center will provide jobs and continuing revenue for the West Essex stores, restaurants, and shops for years to come.

Early in the 20th century the home was purchased by private citizens to be a museum in honor of Grover Cleveland. In the 1930’s, the museum was given to the State of New Jersey by the original GCBMA to maintain. Since the 1980’s, the current GCBMA has served as a 501(c)(3) private non-profit corporation to help promote the Birthplace and the legacy of Cleveland in the context of News Jersey history.

The construction should take about 240 days and the grand opening ceremony will be in the spring of 2021. The historical architects are Connolly and Hickey from Cranford, New Jersey. The Visitors Center wraps around the circa 1900 Carriage House to permit visitors to see its construction in all weather and appreciate its construction materials.

Virtual – July 4th 2020

Welcome to The GCBMA’s VIRTUAL July 4th Experience!

Fun Facts, Trivia, Activities, Events & More

Nifty July 4th Fun Facts                                     Winning Cookie Recipes                              July 4th Jokes (real groaners) 
July 4th White House Celebrations               Color Grover Coloring Book                       Oh! Say Can You See Flag Quiz
Cleveland’ s Caldwell Quiz                              
Make Your Own Ice Cream                        Thomas Jefferson’s Original Ice Cream
July 4, 1914 Caldwell Fireworks Disaster     Print Out Your Own Mini Grover

                      Click Here for your virtual tour of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace
What Independence Day Meant to Grover Cleveland?”    Youtube or Transcript
Click Here to join us for a reading of the Declaration of Independence as written in 1776, by State Park Service staff, volunteers and friends.

 

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association’s (GCBMA’s) Ice Cream Socials have been part of the West Essex community celebration since 1987, the 150th anniversary of Stephen Grover Cleveland’s birth in the Old Manse – better known to us as the Grover Cleveland Birthplace.

In the last few years attendance to our annual July 4th event has grown to nearly 1000 people. But the annual Ice Cream Social is not solely the work of the GCBMA alone.

Here are just some of the many supporters and volunteers who have made our Annual July 4th Ice Cream Socials possible. The GCBMA extends special thanks to:

Animal Welfare League
Boy Scout Troop 6
Calandra’s Bakery
Cloverleaf Tavern
Dee Jay Angelo Uccello
Essex Lodge No. 7 Lodge F. & A. M.

Gelotti Ice Cream
George Esparza, the Medicine Man and Flea Circus Master
Jack’s Foodtown
James Caldwell High School Service Club
Kiwanis Club of Caldwell – West Essex
Local Fire Departments & West Essex First Aid Squad
Marco the Magician
New Jersey State Parks Service
Reisinger Oxygen Service

Rev. Msgr. Robert Emery of Saint Aloysius Roman Catholic Church
Rollins Lawns
Rotary Club of the Caldwells
Saint Aloysius Roman Catholic Church

Sharon Farrell, Caretaker of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace
& Staff Members Janice Caputo and Paula Tomshe

ShopRite of West Caldwell
The Party Store
West Essex Ministerial Association
Women’s of Club of Caldwell

 

Alice Gibson Tribute

        Tribute from Dave Cowell

Alice Gibson at the Inaugural Ball for the Grover Cleveland Birthplace. Photo by Janet Markman

One of our brightest lights has gone out.

Development and Program Chairperson Alice Gibson died yesterday from the Covid-19 virus. Alice chaired all the fundraising events for the Grover Cleveland Birthplace, raised all the money we needed to fund our agreement with the State to build the Visitor Center and staged the major historic reenactments–the wedding, the inauguration, the ground breaking–and annual meetings, plays, scripts, even parades.
Her commitment to the project was also her joy. She was the first to respond to the notice that the bidding process was renewed a week ago saying simply, “I want to be in Trenton when the bids are opened.”
We are not alone in all the groups mourning her loss. The Montclair Symphony Orchestra, the cultural arts communities, the Junior Women’s Clubs,the UWWE, the NJPAC, and Councils on the Arts. She participated, donated, led and she spoke for them all.
Alice loved projects with vision perhaps because she had vision. She made life more interesting
and richer for us all. Her enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring to us all.
Gordon has been taken home by their son.
Our condolences to Gordon, Donna, Gordon Jr., and their families.
Best, stay well and safe yourselves. Dave Cowell, President

Tribute from Sharon Farrell

The U.S. flag at the front of the house, and the entrance door to the Birthplace have been draped in mourning colors to honor Alice. Photo by Janet Markman

The U.S. flag at the front of the house, and the entrance door to the Birthplace have been
draped in mourning colors to honor Alice. This is such a strange time when we cannot gather
together to grieve, to express respect, to chat back and forth about what we loved about Alice.
The staff at the house, as well as those Alice knew and worked with through the NJ State Park
Service will miss her unbounded optimism. At this unprecedented time of the Covid-19
pandemic, the mourning colors are a small way we can express our loss and the loss of the
community, share in the grief of the Gibson family, as well as being a symbol of great regard
and respect for Alice, our ‘Champion.’
Sharon Farrell, Caretaker
Grover Cleveland Birthplace New Jersey State Historic Site

Listen to NJ Gov. Phil Murhpy’s tribute to Alice GibsonClick Here

Watch Brian Brodeur’s TAPinto TV tribute to Alice GibsonClick Here

 Watch CBS Weatherman John Elliott’s tribute to Alice Gibson –  Click Here

To make a donation in Alice Gibson’s honor – please note in “Add Special Instructions to Seller” space  – “For Alice Gibson”




 

 

 

President Cleveland’s 183rd Birthday

Submitted by Sharon Farrell

Today is President Cleveland’s 183rd birthday. During our current public health crisis, we take a moment to recall President Cleveland’s personal battle with a serious infection as a teen, and later as mayor, his fight for proper management and funding for a public health issue. Stricken with typhoid at age 18. Cleveland, who was residing with his aunt and uncle in Buffalo at the time, survived under the care of Dr. King. Years later, as mayor of Buffalo, Cleveland clashed with a corrupt city council to institute a Sewage Commission for the City. After open war between the mayor and council, and repeated vetoes by Cleveland due to nepotism and padded city contracts, the Commission finally was formed. Deadly waterborne illnesses, slow moving contracts, and abuse of funds for sewer projects ran rampant in Buffalo for decades. Cleveland is credited with bringing the public emergency and misuse of funds to the fore, insisting that progress be made immediately while using taxpayer’s funds prudently.
 

Department of Environmental Protections statement on New Jersey State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites

 

OPEN SPACES AT STATE PARKS AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS AVAILABLE FOR PASSIVE RECREATION; ENCLOSED FACILITIES, CAMPGROUNDS AT STATE PARKS, FORESTS AND RECREATION AREAS CLOSED

(20/P010) TRENTON ––Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today that public may still access the State Parks, forests, recreation areas and Wildlife Management Areas, including roads, parking areas, trails, lakes and other open space areas for healthful passive recreation.

However, campgrounds, visitor centers, nature centers, restrooms and similar facilities at state parks, forests, recreation areas, Wildlife Management Areas and HISTORIC SITES are closed until further notice in order to protect public health and safety as the state works to address COVID-19.

Given the lack of services for the public, entry fees normally collected by state parks will be waived. Additionally, permits typically required including but not limited to mobile sport fishing permits (ie. beach buggy permits) are still necessary.

This approach will allow important access to outdoor activities such as walking to continue while limiting potential exposure and spread of the virus.

“Keeping state-owned open spaces available to the public is important so people can continue to enjoy the healthful benefits of recreation and being outdoors,” Commissioner McCabe said. “We advise the public to practice social distancing while enjoying our open spaces.”

Staff and Law Enforcement Personnel will continue to conduct routine patrols of open spaces to ensure public safety and general wellbeing of the visiting public.

In addition, the DEP is postponing all upcoming events, programming and camping reservations in State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas through April 30. Refunds will be issued, and events rescheduled at the appropriate time.

For updates, please visit www.njparksandforests.org.

Like the New Jersey State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NewJerseyStateParks.

Follow the State Park Service on Instagram @newjerseystateparks.

Follow the Division of Fish and Wildlife on Instagram @newjerseyfishandwildlife.

Follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP###

“President Grover Cleveland Week” Schedule of Events

On behalf of the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association (GCBMA), I am sorry to report that due to this Coronavirus outbreak, all scheduled events for “President Grover Cleveland Week” have, for the time being, been cancelled.

 

To Download the Schedule – Click Here

More Information on Escape Room and how to make reservations

As part of the March 2020 Grover Cleveland Week, the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association is proud to hold a “Mini Escape Room for Families” at the birthplace (207 Bloomfield Avenue) on Saturday March 21st.  Participants will take part in a 30 minute mystery, “What Happened to Grover Cleveland?” where they must solve a mystery about Cleveland in order to “escape” from the birthplace. Each “escape mystery” will start at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, and 8:00 p.m., will be 30 minutes in length, and will be limited to 15 participants for each session.  The “escape mystery” is geared for families 8 and up and will have a lot of “mini mysteries” in addition to the main escape activity. Each participant will receive a prize. Tickets are $10.00/person and will be available Wednesday March 11th. Reservations for tickets can be made by leaving a message with Paul Maloney at EssexNewsMaloney@aol.com.  (Please leave your name, telephone number, the time you want to participate, (4:00, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, or 8:00) and the number of reservations you request. Payment will be required at the scheduled time on March 21st. You will be emailed a confirmation upon acknowledgement of your request.)

President Grover Cleveland Week March 16-22,-2020

The Mayor and Caldwell Council proclaim in perpetuity the week of March 18, 2019 as Grover Cleveland Week in the Borough of Caldwell. Scan of original by Bob Markman

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association Presents

“President Grover Cleveland Week” Schedule of Events

March 16 – 22, 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020 – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm:

Official announcement about The State of New Jersey’s “Grover Cleveland Week” at the

Roseland Public Library, 20 Roseland Ave., Roseland, NJ 07068

www.RoselandPublicLibrary.org

Open to the public – light refreshments

7:30 pm – Library Director Jan Overton welcomes everyone

7:45 pm – Assemblyman John McKeon recapping the Joint Resolution (AJR79) officially making the week of March 18th “President Grover Cleveland Week” throughout the State of New Jersey.

8:00 pm – Presentation by noted historian Louis Picone, “The Importance of Being Grover Cleveland”

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – 6:00 pm:

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration recognizing President Grover Cleveland at

The Cloverleaf Tavern, 395 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell, NJ 07006 (973)226-9812

Special beer and menu items named after our 22 & 24th President, Grover Cleveland.

 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 Grover Cleveland’s Birthday Events:

4:30 pm – Special Birthday Ceremony led by Sharon Farrell, Caretaker of the

Grover Cleveland Birthplace, 207 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell, NJ 07006 (973) 226-0001

Representatives from houses of worship, historical societies, and service organizations including: Essex Masonic Lodge, Caldwell Women’s Club, Knights of Columbus, University Women of West Essex, DAR, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and local schools.

5:30 pm – 8:00pm Caldwell Library Reception & Special Speaker Presentation, open to the public.

Caldwell Public Library, 268 Bloomfield Ave. Caldwell, NJ 07006   www.caldwellpl.org

5:30 pm “Meet and Greet” – Socialize with light refreshments.

6:30 pm – Special Talk about President Cleveland and his friendship with Mark Twain by Speaker acting curator of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT, Ms. Mallory Howard.

 

Thursday, March 19, 2020 – 7:00 pm: Trivia Night – Led by Caldwell Caldwell Councilman Jonathan Lace at

Rockin’ Joe’s Café, 339 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell, NJ 07006  (973) 226 1116

 

Saturday, March 21, 2020 – 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm:  “Escape Room” with Paul Maloney

The Grover Cleveland Birthplace, 207 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell, NJ 07006 (973) 226-0001

Times will be at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and 7:00 pm.  Tickets are just $10 per person, and will be sold in advance.

 

  * For the latest information about these exciting events please visit www.presidentcleveland.org 

 

A Thanksgiving Cartoon

CARTOON by Thomas Nast, UNCLE SAM’S THANKSGIVING DINNER: 1869. Nast, a Republican, became a staunch supporter of Democrat Grover Cleveland during the 1884 election. Nast is credited with creating the iconic images of the donkey and the elephant that would come to represent the two major parties.

READ MORE: Notice at the top, center of the cartoon, the small banner draped over the portrait of President Ulysess S. Grant with the words, “15th Amendment,” and in the table’s centerpiece, “Self Governance” and “Universal Suffrage.”  This scene was the artist’s, and the magazine’s, endorsement of the 15th amendment which had been undergoing vigorous debate, with removals and revisions in Congress throughout the year. It would finally pass the following February of 1870, during Grant’s presidency. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-xv   In 1884, Despite Thomas Nast’s party affiliation as a Republican, he found he could not conscientiously vote for, or support, Cleveland’s opponent, James Blaine, who Nast saw as a thoroughly corrupt leader. Throughout the 1884 election year Nast drew scathing cartoons of the Republican candidate portrayed as a thief and conversely, published glowing cartoons portraying Grover Cleveland as a heroic non-partisan reformer. In the words of the artist’s grandson, Thomas Nast St. Hill, “it was generally conceded that Nast’s support won Cleveland the small margin by which he was elected. In this his last national political campaign, Nast had, in fact, ‘made a president.'”

 

 

Volunteers Deliver Totes of Christmas Decor at The Grover Cleveland Birthplace

From left to right are Members of BSA Venturing Crew 59 of Caldwell – Noraleigh Brown, Ashna Razdan, Nora Brown, Steve Brown, Matt Summers and JB Mollet  Photo and text by Sharon Farrell, Caretaker Grover Cleveland Birthplace New Jersey State Historic Site

Proof that ‘many hands make light work,’ our totes full of Christmas decor were passed “bucket brigade style” up from the museum cellar and into the 1830s kitchen by a contingent from local Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew 59. Faux greenery and foods are used in our arrangements to ensure protection of the museum artifacts from such things as pine tar and insects. Museum-quality faux evergreens, holly, magnolia, rose hips, berries, and fruits, with touches of ribbons and bows will be unpacked with tender loving care and decked throughout the house. Thank you to everyone who helped us get our Christmas decorations from storage!