Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kinnelon's L'Ecole Museum

Kinnelon's L'Ecole Museum is a goldmine! It's open every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm and definitely worth a visit, if not multiple visits, to put the area's history into perspective!

As you can see from the sign, "L'Ecole built in 1893 as the "Meadtown Schoolhouse" became the residence of Dr. Helen Miller in 1935 when she named it L'Ecole, or schoolhouse. Now the home of the Kinnelon Historical Commission and the Kinnelon Museum."

It is chock full of fascinating photographs, maps, history and memorabilia from days gone by in this area. That's what I find particularly valuable as I try to piece together the various historic accounts I've come across.

Take the farms that Cornie Hubner refers to in Didja Know? Kinnelon History. The end of that post mentions many farms operating in the area. Makes sense, although I find it hard sometimes to visualize.

For example, consider where Pathmark is. Pathmark - or the Kinnelon Mall [and Meadtown] - stands where the Wilton Mead Farm existed. The Wilton Mead Farm was established in 1826. Pathmark was built in the 1970s.

Here is what's written in L'Ecole about that farm. The sign is situated next to a window giving onto Pathmark:

"Among the families purchasing land grants from the East Jersey Board of Proprietors in the 17th and 18th centuries was the Mead Family - hence the Meadtown area.

The Wilton Mead property was once a productive, working farm with pigs, chickens, horses and cows. From the apple orchards cider was pressed and sold; calves raised and sold. Fragrant hayfields were mown, and surplus marketed. Firewood was stacked for sale, and buyers came for apples, potatoes, eggs and other produce.

There was a large sorting shed, a lumber shed, corn crib, a chicken coop, smoke house, a pumphouse and a spring cooled milk shed. There were roofed but open sheds for storing hay.

During WWII fresh butter was made on the farm and eagerly purchased with the help of saved ration coupons.

In 1935, Mr. Wilton Mead became Mayor of Kinnelon. During his term the Council granted the Jersey Central Power and Light Company permission to extend its lines along Kiel Ave. from Boonton Township."

Very cool! I wish we still had access to these farms for fresh butter and fresh pressed apple cider...

Back to Cornie Hubner's history. Toward the end of that post, he refers to "the largest working farm of Henry D. Ricker. The Rickers raised cows and sheep for marketing. Their neighbors the Millers and Van Ordens along Brookvale and Cherry Tree Lane and the Welzels and Fredericks along Gravel and Green Hill Roads, operated smaller self-sustaining farms."

These two photos are of these farms in what is now Smoke Rise. They date back to 1925 and capture fields along what is currently Long Meadow Road.

NOTE: This resource details a timeline for the Kinnelon, NJ area.

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