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The Irish – More than just a parade

Girl and her father at the St. Patricks Day parade waving

Celebrate the Irish in Morristown

General George Washington brought the Continental Army to Morristown, New Jersey, for two winters, in 1777 and again in 1779-1780. The second winter encampment took place at Jockey Hollow, today part of Morristown National Historical Park (MNHP). Over 10,000 men took over parts of the Guerin and Wick farms and suffered immeasurably during the worst winter on record.
Of the 11 brigades encamped at Morristown, 7 of them had generals who had either been born in Ireland or had parents of Irish heritage. It was estimated that one quarter of the entire Continental Army had been born in Ireland. On March 17, 1780 General Washington ordered that generals were not to assign duty to any Son of St. Patrick, and the holiday marked their first day off that winter in Jockey Hollow. To commemorate the Irish contribution to the War for Independence a plaque was unveiled at Jockey Hollow in April 2010 by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Morris County.

The left side of the plaque has an illustration of soldiers around a campfire. The right of the marker features a picture of the “Independence of Ireland” flag. Below this is a picture of a clay pipe with Irish harp and shamrocks and has the caption “Image based on archeological fragment found in Jockey Hollow and now part of Morristown National Historical Park’s museum collection”. Schedule a visit to Jockey Hollow and to the museum at Morristown. Spring seasonal hours are now in effect.

Sign detailing the Irish contribution to the Revolutionary War at Jockey Hollow

The Irish will show their pride once again in Morristown at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 14th. The parade steps off at noon from Morristown Town Hall at 200 South Street and continues down South Street to the viewing stand near the Morristown Green. The parade concludes at Morristown High School on Atno Street at 2 pm For the line of march and more information visit

Woman at St. Patricks day parade in tall green har

Parade goer

Morristown’s oldest church is Assumption Church at 91 Maple Avenue where a mass will be celebrated before the parade honoring St. Patrick at 10 am. Mass was celebrated for the first time at Assumption on Christmas Day, 1848. The cornerstone for the current Gothic Revival-style structure was laid on June 30, 1872. Read about the mass at Assumption

Historic Marker about the Irish in MorristownThe church interior was restored to its Victorian-era grandeur in 2007 and is well worth a visit. While near the church, and prior to the parade, stop at the corner of Madison Street and Macculloch Avenue. Read the Morris County Heritage Commission marker about the Dublin Neighborhood, installed and dedicated in March 2019. There is also historic signage about the development of the area. Do a self-guided tour of Dublin using the information at this link. Dublin

Many of the local bars and restaurants will open early for the parade. The parade itself is alcohol-free and family friendly. Parking is plentiful in downtown garages and on surrounding streets. View a Morristown Partnership parking map here: map of Morristown

Restaurants puts on a memorable St. Patrick’s Day program each year-the Dublin Pub near the corner of South Street and Pine Street. With music and menu and drink specials, it offers an authentic celebratory experience in Morristown.

George and Martha’s and the Grasshopper off the Green, both on Morris Street, are lively before and after the parade. The Office Tavern Grill on South Street and The Grand Café (dinner only) on Washington Street are also favorites of our staff. And if you want to stay the night in Morristown, the friendly and very convenient Best Western PLUS Morristown Inn is offering a special St. Patrick’s Day Parade special.
“Erin go Bragh”


Black History in Morris County

Deepen your understanding of Morris County’s Black history

Every February since 1926, Black History has been celebrated in America. That year historian Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week, which evolved into Black History Month. Woodson selected the second week in February for its association with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (2/12) and Frederick Douglass (2/14). Black History Month was recognized officially by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

This month, in Morris County, there are very interesting local events and programs that will help deepen your understanding of its black history. For instance, on Sunday, February 9th at 2:00 pm at the Bickford Theatre inside the Morris Museum, there will be a panel discussion curated by the Reverend Dr. Sidney S. Williams of the Bethel Church of Morristown: “Anchoring African American Identities in Morris County from 1600 to 2020”.

While Morristown is best known for George Washington’s encampment in revolutionary times, there are many voices yet to be heard and stories yet to be told. Like any community, Morristown has multiple layers of unique, yet intersecting historical narratives.

Ties that bind exhibit poster held at Morris MuseumNow through March 29th at the Morris Museum check out the traveling exhibition on view:

The Ties That Bind: How Race Relations Shaped Morris County, 1600-2018. This exhibit, formerly at the Morristown-Morris Township Library and at the Morristown National Historical Park, explores over 300 years of race relations between blacks and whites in Morris County and greater New Jersey.

photo of a sculpture of Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley

Celebrate and explore the life and work of the poet Phillis Wheatley at the Methodist Library at Drew University. There will be a multimedia presentation on Wheatley, the first black woman-and a slave-to be published in America. Original music inspired by Wheatley’s poems, and composed by Maestro Robert Butts, will be featured. Drew University undergraduates will recite some of Wheatley’s poems. The program will conclude with the viewing of a signed first edition of her poems from the Morristown National Historical Park’s collection. Works from the Methodist Library will also be featured. The program will take place on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 6:00 PM at Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison.

This is an encore of a program we co-sponsored last October. Personally, I found Wheatley’s life story to be fascinating, the Drew students reading her poems inspiring, and the poems set to music spiritually uplifting. Not a bad way to expend an hour.

In 1992, a number of oral histories with members of Morristown’s black community were done, and collected into a book called “Setting up our Own City: The Black Community in Morristown: an oral history project”. The book is now available digitally. We have librarian Cheryl Turkington to thank for collecting the oral histories for us and for future generations. Read the book here.

In 2018 the Bethel AME Church of Morristown celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding. African American members of the Presbyterian Church on the Green, led by Frances Jane Freeman Ray, established the church in 1843. It served as a schoolhouse for colored children, enslaved people worshiped here, veterans of the Civil War were members, and during the Great Migration new members came from the South and the West Indies. Take a look at the information panels in front of the church at 59 Spring Street to learn more of their history.

Vintage photo of Bethel-AME church in Morristown

Bethel AME Church


Morristown’s Hard Winter

Why Morris County History is Important Today:

                Remembering the 240th Anniversary of the Second Morristown Encampment – by Carol Barkin

Jockey Hollow_Soldiers at huts

Soldiers at Jockey Hollow

Morristown has long been known as the “Military Capital of the Revolution.” Not once, but twice, General George Washington and the Continental Army set up winter camp in and around Morristown. This month marks the 240th anniversary of the second winter encampment, which lasted from December 1, 1779 until June 23, 1780.

General Washington, his staff and guards billeted at the mansion of Militia Colonel Jacob Ford, Jr. where his host was Theodosia Ford, widow of the Colonel who had died in 1777. Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton stayed at the mansion; he was the youngest of Washington’s five aide-de-camps.

Visitors to Washington Headquarters that winter included Martha Washington, the French Ambassador, the Marquis de Lafayette, and a three-member committee from the Continental Congress. Most notably, with the arrival of Lafayette on May 10, Washington received the news that support would be coming from the French in the form of ships, arms, soldiers and money.  It was an important turning point for Washington and the army.

Morristown Ford Mansion front view in winter with snow on the ground

The Ford Mansion at Morristown

Accompanying Washington to Morristown were 10,000 Continental Army soldiers from Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Canada. At Jockey Hollow, south of Morristown, they built a “log house city.” They cleared 2,000 acres of trees and built 1,200 log huts, replicas of which can be seen today at Morristown National Historical Park at Jockey Hollow.

This winter is believed to have been the worst of the century, and perhaps of all time. It’s known in the history books as “the hard winter.” Supply lines could not break through to support the troops and 100 soldiers perished. Food and clothing were in short supply. Officers looked the other way as soldiers left the camp to forage on their own for food.

“At one time it snowed the greater part of four days successively, and there fell nearly as many feet deep of snow, and here was the keystone of the arch of starvation. We were absolutely, literally starved. I do solemnly declare that I did not put a single morsel of victuals into my mouth for four days and as many nights, except a little black birch bark which I gnawed off a stick of wood, if that can be called victuals. I saw several of the men roast their old shoes and eat them”. (Private Joseph Plumb Martin-age 19)

With appropriate winter clothing and boots, and a full belly, we suggest a winter visit to Jockey Hollow. As you hike the trails or up to the soldiers’ huts, or just stand quietly in the forest, imagine what it must have been like for the men camped there during the “hard winter” of 1779-80.

Washington Headquarters museum discovery center picture of boy looking at soldier exhibit

Discover History Center at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum at Morristown

The Jockey Hollow roads, grounds and trails are open every day from 8 am to sunset. The Ford Mansion and Washington’s Headquarters Museum in Morristown are open seasonally.  Check this link for current hours.

Alexander Hamilton would walk from the Ford Mansion to Morristown and pass by this handsome home, known today as the Schuyler-Hamilton house, formerly known as the Campfield House. Visiting Morristown during the second winter encampment was Betsy Schuyler of Albany, New York and they became acquainted, then engaged, and married in Albany, NY in December 1780. Now an historic house museum operated by the local D.A.R., you can visit it on most Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Exterior view of Schuyler-Hamilton House in Morristown

Schuyler-Hamilton House

Behind the scenes: Growing Stage Childrens Theater

Danny Campos and Lori Lawrence from the Growing Stage childrens theater

The Growing Stage has lots of wizards…

Growing Stage, Netcong – December 2019

Spoiler alert: the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz DID NOT melt, she escaped through the 3’x 3’ hidden trap door in the center of the stage.

I went for a behind the scenes look at the Tourism Bureau’s newest member – The Growing Stage, a children’s theater in Netcong, who, by the way, is celebrating their 25th year in the 100-year-old building in downtown Netcong, and their 38th year as Main Stage Productions. Main Stage productions performed at the Black River Playhouse and the Williamson School in Chester before they moved to Netcong to renovate and inhabit the old Palace Theatre.

I found out that The Growing Stage has lots of wizards! I met the “cardboard wizard” Artist in Residence Perry Arthur Kroeger and the “costume queen wizard” Lori B. Lawrence, who is also the Director of Education – and does a little directing on the side, The Grand Wizard who shall not be disturbed, Stephen Fredericks – Founder and Executive Director, and a wizard named Danny. Together they accomplish the impossible – magic for children of all ages and their families.

When I first walked into the theater, there was a large empty room – no chairs, no rug – only columns and a low to the ground stage. Leaning neatly up against the wall were two hundred and twenty folding chairs. I learned that the chairs are set up every weekend there is a show, allowing for their small space to have multi-purposes – especially in the summer with their always packed summer camps – and it conveniently allows easy clean-up for juice spills.

This small but dynamic, world-renown theater has more programs than I can count on two hands with a staff I can count on only one hand, which is pretty remarkable. Let’s see:
Main Stage Productions – 5 productions per year – that means new sets, costumes, props and people.
Educational programming – Creative Arts Academy – 200 kids, Summer Arts –300 kids.
Scouts & Home Schooling programs –15 towns spanning 3 counties – Morris, Sussex and Warren.
Studio Presentation Series – summer musicals and master classes for high school and college students, 3 productions per year, 75 students.
New Play Reading Festival –  resulting in one new and world-renown production per year, but they read 130 scripts from all over the world and select 4 finalists, then 1 winner.
Arts in Education for schools –25 schools visit per year.
And sensory-friendly performances – 5 per year, one for each main stage production.

The wizard named Danny, a.k.a. the Marketing Director who also directs some of the plays introduced me to the “cardboard wizard” Perry who has been with the theater for 25 years and has since painted murals on every wall. Not just small murals – but elaborate and inspiring murals about stories often told to children. He’s the one who designs and constructs all of the sets using cardboard instead of the more traditional wood to do so. This not only keeps their costs down but also makes the sets easier to build, move, repair and reuse.

I was shown every nook and cranny of the building – a real behind the set, curtain, and walls look at everything, which was lots of fun since I’m basically a nosey kind of person. I saw where the costume wizard did her magic and even got to meet her. Lori is a passionate theater person who loves her many roles at the theater. And I had a peek at the many props shelves – which were peeking back at me.

Props on a shelf

Props on a shelf peeking out

Behind the stage were dressing rooms, trap doors, ballasts, and scenery, then there was the balcony which had the lighting on the banister in front of a meeting room and a few storage closets. The third floor housed the props, sewing room, costumes, stagecraft area and a large dance/rehearsal space.

The Elf Production at The Growing Stage Theater in Netcong, NJ –  (just ending) Costumes lined up – Buddy the Elf, the Fake Mall Santa’s Costumes – you’ll have to see the performance to understand that one.

The amazing staff at the theater hard at work.

Costumes, Props – oh my!

A lot to see:

2020 season coming up has a lot of great shows


10 Things to do this holiday!

Make my Weekend Festive!

Suggestions of What to do in December in Morris County

Holly Walk – Friday, December 6, 2019 – Sunday, December 8, 2019, coordinated by The Morris County Tourism Bureau

A showcase of seven historic sites in the Morristown area authentically decorated for the holidays. There will be special Holly Walk programming and exhibits at each site. Gift shops will be loaded with holiday merchandise so bring your shopping list. Many sites will have refreshments and music. New this year, the event takes place over three days. Sites open on the first night will feature candle-lit tours from 4 pm to 8 pm. Times of operation at each site will vary over the three days. You must plan to drive and park at the sites, although some are walkable. No transportation is provided to or between the sites.

Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green – Sunday, December 1, 2019 – Monday, December 23, 2019,  @The Morristown Green

The place to celebrate the holidays from Thanksgiving up until Christmas; this month-long family event kicks off on the Sunday after Thanksgiving with Santa’s rooftop arrival and welcome ceremony. Family activities and entertainment on the historic Morristown Green, add to the dazzling “Lighting of the Green” ceremony with brilliant lights and wreaths adorning streetlights town-wide – a 100+ year tradition!  Each weekend throughout December thousands of attendees from all over Northern New Jersey visit and enjoy Santa visits and photos, holiday crafts, miniature train rides around the Green, gingerbread house & ornament making, music by local choirs and entertainers, ice sculpting demonstrations and free treats!

Gingerbread Wonderland & Craft Show – Friday, December 6, 2019 – Sunday, December 15, 2019, various times @Frelinghuysen Arboretum

Marvel at the creativity and skill displayed at this festive and charming exhibit featuring 150+ edible masterpieces crafted by local schools

Morris County Park Palooza: Holiday Cheer – Saturday, December 7, 2019, 12-8pm @ Central Park of Morris County

Enjoy 20+ food trucks, a Biergarten offering hand-crafted beers, wine and sangria, and live music featuring 2 bands. Keep warm by the outdoor heaters, roast s’ mores over the fire pits, take a memorable photo with Santa (3 pm – 6 pm), play carnival games, and enjoy the many activities for adults and kids, and so much more! Wear your ugly holiday sweater, too!

Woodstove Holiday Pie Classes – Saturday, December 7, 2019, 10 am-3 pm @ Fosterfields Living Historical Farm

Ages 12 & up; Learn to cook a selection of savory and sweet pies over the woodstove. Try cooking the old-fashioned way as you learn to fire up a wood stove and create delectable dishes

Sculpted Ice Works – Sunday, December 8, 2019, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm @Chester Downtown
The “cool” ice designs by Pennsylvania’s own Sculpted Ice Works are truly works               of art! Using chain saws, chisels, torches and more, come watch one of their talented ice carvers hack away at large blocks of ice to reveal spectacular creations on.

Return of the Three Holiday Tenors – Sunday, December 8, 2019, 3-5pm @ The Concert Hall at Drew University

Three Holiday tenors celebrate and captivate with a dazzling selection of renowned tenor fare guaranteed to make the season m

New Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker – December 13-15, 2019, various times @ Mayo Performing Arts Center

New Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker enchants youngsters and grown-ups alike with splendid dancing, a live orchestra, and eye-popping special effects. Audiences of all ages will feel the holiday magic

Holiday Craft Morristown – Friday, December 13, 2019 – Sunday, December 15, 2019, @ Morristown National Guard Armory

This curated shopping event offers creative gift shoppers and design lovers the rare opportunity to meet 165 visionary American makers, artists, and craftspeople and purchase their latest works. In addition to thousands of distinctive and beautifully crafted objects there are basket weaving and copper-smithing demonstrations as well as a gourmet specialty food boutique

A Christmas Carol – Wednesday, December 4, 2019 – Sunday, December 29, 2019, various times @ The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

The tale of “A Christmas Carol” – This version uses a small ensemble of actors to bring an abundance of animate and inanimate characters to life, as the despicable Ebenezer Scrooge encounters the haunting spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.


Holly Walk

7 Sights, 3 days and 1 Ticket – Holly Walk 2019

 The Morris County Tourism Bureau and its partners are pleased to announce that tickets are on-sale for Holly Walk 2019 which will be a three day event this year. This long-standing and beloved Morris County tradition offers visitors the opportunity to tour seven local historic sites authentically decorated for the Christmas holidays, with one admission ticket. Holly Walk brings to life Christmas from Colonial days to the present with each site featuring decorations faithful to its time period, immersing the visitor in an historical experience. Participating sites include:

  1. Acorn Hall
  2. The Ford Mansion
  3. Historic Speedwell
  4. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum
  5. Museum of Early Trades & Crafts
  6. Schuyler-Hamilton House
  7. Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
Map of locations: Hollywalk 2019 proof r3

Holly Walk Tickets


Acorn Hall will be candle-lit on Friday evening and feature a visit from Mrs. Claus along with 19th century costumed volunteers. To entertain visitors, seasonal favorite songs will be played on their 1872 Chickering Grand Piano between 6-8pm. Their decorations will be historically appropriate for the 19th century and paired with about 30 of the finest (some never-before-seen) 19th century winter garments from their men’s, women’s, and children’s collections.

The Ford Mansion at Morristown National Historical Park will be lit up with candles on Friday evening just as it would have been in 1780. On Saturday, December 7th, they will have a Compliments of the Season concert from 1pm – 3pm in the auditorium with Pianist Peter Toth, and Robert Butts with the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey performing. The program will feature seasonal favorites along with traditional pieces from their classical repertoire. On Sunday, explore the Ford Mansion and enjoy a variety of 18th century games and entertainment.

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum will featured decorations in every room and will have on display a very special an antique dollhouse made during the Victorian era for a Macculloch great-granddaughter. The large dollhouse was built to resemble Macculloch Hall especially for her and has not been on public view since the 1980s. In addition, there will be a craft related to Thomas Nast for younger Holly Walkers to delight in.

Visitors to Historic Speedwell in Morristown will see the historic Vail House decorated for a mid-19th century Christmas. The 1849 Carriage House will host a dance space with festive evergreen décor and replica Currier and Ives prints. Activities will include a scavenger hunt, dance instruction, live music and a games and crafts area. Have your picture taken while seated in an historic sleigh. A special “wassailing” activity is planned.

The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts in Madison will be hosting a Craft and Trade Show where Holly Walk guests can watch local artisans produce unique products and gifts for the holiday season and Christmas decorations will reflect early 20th century style. Refreshments will be available.

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in Morris Plains will be decorated for a 1910s Christmas. Guest artisans will demonstrate beadwork and candle making. Visitors can also tour their current exhibit “The American Arts & Crafts Chair: A Message of Honesty and Joy”.

The Schuyler-Hamilton House in Morristown will feature decorations of the Colonial period and have costumed re-enactors who will bring to life a number of “moments” associated with the two winter encampments at Morristown during the Revolutionary War.  Among these will be the activities of the busy medical doctors and scenes from the courtship of Alexander Hamilton and Betsy Schuyler who met in Morristown during one of those winters.

The site’s gift shops will be brimming with unique merchandise, some handcrafted and locally sourced, and reasonably priced. Bring your holiday gift lists, and support the preservation of local Morris County historic sites.

Tickets purchased or from the Morris County Tourism Bureau, 6 Court Street, Morristown. For more information call: 973-631-5151. Ticket prices are $35 when purchased on December 6, 7, 8 at Macculloch Hall (Friday and Saturday) or online.

A sleigh full of evergreens and red bowsHolly Walk Macculloch Hall Dove in Christmas tree

by Carol Barkin, MCTB

All photos courtesy of the Morris County Tourism Bureau-Holly Walk pasts

21st Century History Museum in Madison

The 21st-century history museum: Community Anchor and Educational Resource
By Executive Director Deborah Farrar Starker, Museum of Early Trades & Crafts

As the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, consider taking a break from hectic schedules by visiting The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts in Madison, NJ. METC is a unique history museum that embraces the stories of the early settlers, immigrants, farmers and tradespeople who settled in this part of New Jersey before the 20th century. Here, two levels of exhibit space, historic objects, artifacts and stunning architecture are waiting to reveal their stories to visitors. Founded in 1969 by Edgar and Agnes Land, METC provides valuable educational enrichment to over 7,000 students from around the state each year and welcomes thousands more visitors who travel just a few miles or a few thousand miles to enjoy this unique New Jersey history museum.
A popular destination for tourists, METC is housed in a magnificent 1899 building listed on both the state and national registries of historic places. The museum offers architectural tours, lectures, special exhibits, programs, guided tours and has a vibrant museum store filled with gifts that are all locally sourced by New Jersey artisans. In early 2019, the museum officially became the Madison Visitor Center.

A major portion of METC’s resources is allocated for education, with all programs based on specific segments of the New Jersey school curricula, integrating immigration, community, creativity, innovation, STEM and STEAM into lesson plans. The professional museum educators play a pivotal role in ensuring that young audiences recognize the relevance of history, serving as interpreters, connectors and companions on a journey of making the past visible for the present. In addition, METC creates many programs offered to older adults residing in senior communities, as well as specially designed visits for people living with disabilities. Each year, the museum provides numerous scholarship programs to urban schools and other groups who cannot afford the cost of a field trip and transportation to the museum, and these initiatives are funded by grants and donations.

METC prides itself on being a vibrant and civic minded museum, offering numerous lectures, exhibitions, special events and activities for visitors with a variety of interests. In 2019, the museum installed its first permanent exhibition in over 20 years, transforming the main level of the museum into a visually exciting and interactive space. The welcoming staff is always eager to provide a special connection for all visitors, and there will always be a unique, relevant experience waiting for everyone inside the doors. For more information about the museum and its programs, visit the website

Inside view of Museum of Early Trades and Crafts

Museum of Early Trades and Crafts gift shop

Stickley Museum 30 years

Stickley Museum 30th Anniversary Logo

30 years of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. It’s a big milestone for a small museum. I hope you’ll join in the celebration by visiting our FREE annual Open House, Sun., Oct. 13, 2019 during The Stickley Weekend. Consider this your personal invitation and read on to learn more about the museum and this special event…

In 1989, Craftsman Farms, the early 20th century rustic country estate of Gustav Stickley, was rescued from private development by the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills. The Township set the property on a path to public use through a partnership with the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms (then called The Craftsman Farms Foundation, Inc.). The museum was entrusted with the preservation, interpretation, and daily operation of the property, which was designated a National Historic Landmark the following year.

Since then the museum has worked diligently to preserve Craftsman Farms and welcomed thousands of visitors every year, sharing Gustav Stickley’s vision for Craftsman Farms, which was his dream home and the embodiment of his Craftsman ideal.

The museum commenced its 30th Anniversary celebration with the January launch of a major construction project: the rehabilitation of an original Stickley-era garage, to become the museum’s new Education Center. And the celebration will continue with The Stickley Weekend, which will include the museum’s annual Open House, Scholars Symposium and its biggest fundraiser of the year, the Craftsman Gala.

If you haven’t been a part of The Stickley Weekend before, the Open House, is a great place to start. The free Open House provides an informal introduction to the museum and its mission. Regular tours are suspended for the day and visitors are invited to stroll at their own pace through the interior of the Stickley family home, the Log House. The museum has a dedicated group of well-trained volunteer docents, who will be on hand to answer questions and provide hourly “Spotlight Talks.” Visitors will want to take extra time in the dining room, which currently houses a special exhibition exploring “The American Arts and Crafts Chair.”

The Open House also will feature a visit from special guest artisan Nawal Motawi, founder of Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Craftsman Farms was designed around Gustav Stickley’s great passion for handcraft. With that in mind, the museum has begun inviting a contemporary artisan, whose work evokes a kinship to Stickley, as well as great skill, to join us for this annual event. Motawi will be on hand to discuss ceramics and the Tileworks, which seeks to make the world a better place by making beautiful things and by modeling healthy business practices. The museum’s shop will be stocked with beautiful, handmade crafts from the Tileworks and from other American artisans and gift items, from jewelry and candles to museum souvenirs.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, October 13 and join us!

by Vonda Givens, Executive Director, Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

New Jersey Gold – Autumn in Morris County

Fall leaves at Stickley Museum

Vonda Givens

Vonda Givens, Executive Director of Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

New Jersey Gold

By Vonda Givens

New Jersey summers rightfully enjoy a lot of attention. It’s true that sunshine and the Jersey shore make a magical combination, but I’m just as infatuated with autumn in the Garden State. I’m a transplant to New Jersey. As a Tennessee native, until moving here nearly 20 years ago, I had only experienced autumn as a brief stop on the downhill slope to winter. It was hot until it wasn’t. As a New Jersey resident—particularly as a resident of Morris County—I came to see autumn as much more. Here summer gave way to winter at a slower pace, along a meandering path. Autumn could bring any kind of weather from cool and clear to warm and rainy to fair and foggy. In Morris County I came to see that while New Jersey summers might have the warm sunshine, autumn in New Jersey has the gold.

I first encountered Morris County, New Jersey after joining the staff of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, an historic house museum and National Historic Landmark in Parsippany. Like many other museums, historic and cultural facilities in Morris County, the Stickley Museum’s most important annual events take place in the autumn—Fall Family Day is set for September 21 and The Stickley Weekend is October 12-13. I was recently looking back over several files worth of pictures from these fall events. Until then, I might have said that the timing of these annual events had mostly to do with convenience. As I sorted through pictures, I came to see that this timing is less by chance and more by design than I realized. Year after year, autumn in Morris County is a spectacular sight! Every year nature delivers glowing yellow, reds and oranges blended into the golden sunlight.

I hope this year you’ll make a point, like me, of relishing the autumn season in Morris County, whether you are a resident or tourist. You can experience the riches of this season at the cornucopia of historic, arts, cultural and recreational facilities across the county. I happen to be partial to the Stickley Museum—its ornamental maples are dazzling in early November—but you will find riches all over Morris County from harvest celebrations and family fun at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morris Township and at Alstede Farms in Chester. Or enjoy autumn beauty at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township or Willowwood Arboretum in Far Hills. Rainy day? Take in the new Graffiti exhibition at the Morris Museum in Morristown, the fashion exhibition at the Morris County Historical Society at Acorn Hall in Morristown or the “Sweet Treats” exhibition at the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison.

Like the Jersey shore in summer, when it comes to autumn glory Morris County always delivers. You can count on it. To learn more about all of these events and more, make sure to follow the Morris County Tourism Bureau and check their website for information and updates.

Vonda Givens, Executive Director of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

Tourism Live – Behind the Scenes with JM

Elan. Out of Place 2019

Do you love graffiti?

What? WHOA! They are spray painting on the WALLS!!! inside the Morris Museum.
And, who said that was ok?

Dr. Cleveland Johnson, Executive Director and Ron Labaco, Director of Exhibitions & Chief Curator of the newly energized Morris Museum, that’s who. They had this idea – let’s celebrate the vitality of graffiti writing and street art in New Jersey and so they invited artist Will Kasso Condry to co-curate the show of twelve NJ graffiti artists to paint directly on the Museum’s walls. Thus was born the AEROSOL: Graffiti/Street Art/New Jersey/Now exhibit that opens September 19th and runs through March 15, 2020.

Participating Artists listed by their professional names are:

Acet TM7
Dave Mek One Klama
Dean Ras Innocenzi
Felipe Prox One Rivas
Jonathan Conner (LANK)
Leon Rainbow
Maliq Griffin
Will Kasso Condry

“It’s about honoring the graffiti culture and highlighting its legitimacy as an art,” says Ron Labaco, co-curator of the show, “We are presenting established and emerging artists – the emerging artist are the ones who are not necessarily working this full time, but are equally experienced. The museum has given them the liberty to paint what they want; to be authentic.”

New Jersey, uniquely positioned between Philadelphia and New York City, the two cities where it all began, plays a vital role in the ever-evolving aerosol art narrative. Legend says that graffiti began by a high school student in 1967 who “tagged” city walls to catch a girl’s attention. This became a compelling and highly visible form of self-expression, which drew others into the graffiti community throughout the 1970’s. The defiance of the rules, its originality and the chance to make their names seen was enticing and exhilarating, as well as provided them with a community. The graffiti movement developed their own cultural norms and rules and these young people helped to shape the art form and increased its popularity.

So, I went behind the scenes to see how they were actually going to pull this off and to talk with the artists. What I found was an enormous empty gallery with drop cloths on the floor and plastic over the windows to prevent errant spray paint, and a giant fan drawing air out a side door for cross ventilation.

I spoke with these inspired and devoted artists and watched as they were “throwing up”* their “pieces”* for the upcoming show on the towering gallery walls. There was strong sense of comradery in the room: spraying, talking, bro hugging and joking around with their friends/colleagues. And, they were loving it. Both the artists and the museum staff alike were bubbling with the chance to genuinely present this genre of art to new audiences.

I learned a lot. I got the chance to observe how it was really done – always wondering about the control of the spray and the smell of the paint. Here I saw that they had incredible control of the spray – where it went and how it was sprayed in strokes and gestures – there was a rhythm to it and each artist had their own way. I was concerned however about their thumbs, didn’t they get sore or tired?

I spoke first with Will Kasso Condry, the show’s co-curator, whose “tag” is Kasso. He is a well-established graff artist originally from Trenton and known in the field for painting “angels”, not the wing-ed ones, but highly respected graffiti artists who have passed away. He was spray painting a larger than life portrait of Jerry Gant, Newark’s Graffiti legendary “angel” and his mentor, on the walls for this exhibit (I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished). Kasso wanted to pay tribute to a man who had helped so many other graffiti artist navigate their lives and their art in the community.

Kasso said he wants to make sure that the past artists are honored and respected for their work and appreciated for their persistence through the many challenges early graffiti artists faced. “When graffiti started it was all about the words & letters,” he said. “It’s different now; street art, like murals, overshadows the graffiti and can often diminish the importance of how it all began. The risk the guys took in the beginning to make their art was real and like anything else, it gave others the chance to build upon that and make it more legitimate.”

Then I met Prox, who started painting graffiti when he was 13 years old. He loves the challenge of creating his name in different forms and styles. It doesn’t matter to him if he works inside or outside. He has a full-time job, but this is his passion and hobby.

Distort on the other hand went to art school in Philly where he was influenced by classical and graffiti art, the home of the graffiti movement. He feels both graffiti art and traditional art have reached their peaks, and for him, by combining what he learned enabled him now to support himself with his art. He agrees with Kasso that it is important to shine a light on the originators and pay respect to their struggle.

The Morris Museum exhibit: AEROSOL: Graffiti/Street Art/New Jersey/Now exhibit that opens September 19th and runs through March 15, 2020  is exposing these artists to an even broader audience. People can see this up close, all in one room with art from very high ceilings to the floor they are standing on which will help them understand and appreciate the enormity of the task.

*Graffiti Expressions:
“The graffiti term ‘piece’, short of masterpiece, is used to describe a large, complex, time-consuming and labor-intensive graffiti painting, usually painted by skilled and experienced writers. It is generally agreed that a painting must have at least three colors to be considered a piece, but ‘pieces’ often incorporate color transitions, shadows and three-dimensional effects. The word ‘piece’ is also used as a verb meaning ‘to write’”.

Tag is the most basic and the most prevalent form of graffiti. Tag is a stylized personal signature and contains graffiti writer’s name, also known as a moniker. Graffiti writers often tag their pieces, following the practice of traditional artists who sign their artwork.”

“‘Throw-up’ or ‘throwie’ is a graffiti term, used to describe tag-like drawings of bubble letters designed for quick execution (we all know why), and usually consisting of artist’s name and only two colors”.
Quotes from: Randal, Matt. “10 Graffiti Terms to Remember” Widewalls. October 16, 2014.

Morris County, located 30 miles west of NYC, is home to some of America’s most important history and culture just waiting for you to explore. Start by walking in the footsteps of Revolutionary icons such as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, then pick apples right off the tree at one of our verdant farms and end your day having a delicious dinner; discover how to make my weekend Morris County!
6 Court St. Morristown, NJ 07960
Phone: 973-631-5151
Leslie Bensley Photo of Jane Joe Executive Director at Morris County Tourism Bureau
6 Court St. Morristown, NJ 07960
973-631-5151 [email protected]