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.