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Collecting the Past: Landscape Paintings of New Jersey Industrialists

Collecting the Past:

Landscape Paintings of New Jersey Industrialists

The direction of this exhibition is to explore the reasons why prominent industrialists of the capitalist class in the late nineteenth century admired and collected landscape paintings as a product of cultural class formation.  By using a variety of art collections from New Jersey, I discovered the motives behind why landscape paintings are significant resources for historic interpretation of the nineteenth century.  Furthermore, throughout this project I have learned that landscape paintings are taking part of a much larger movement of landscape studies, which further illustrates how important these objects are in the context of nineteenth century history.

    Some of the key questions and topics I addressed were the landscape, the fear of modernity in capitalist class culture, and preservation. So why do we study and the landscape and how is it defined? There are many different interpretations and definitions of the term landscape.  However our purpose of the landscape is to construct and interpresent where we come from and who we are. This was evident in nineteenth century social consturction as people ascribed values to the landscape for intangible reasons.  This created a movement of prserving and even fictionalizing what was seen. Nature was transformed to highlight and hide the progess of American. At times, old thinking and culture pushed people to be abivalant towards modernization.  This ambivalence, although irrational from an economic and social standpoint, assited in the production of cultural institutions and teh art of collecting in America. It may be true to say that America was trying to keep up with European collectors as a reason for the preservation of these collections. However we cannot ignore that this all connects to something more valueable for American society.

 

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Ho-Ho-Kus: A Recreational History

Ho-Ho-Kus has always been a small and charming borough.  It’s history is rich and long.  The borough has had many names since 1698, the year that the Provost and Van Emburgh family purchased land in the territory of "Ho-Ho-Kus."  Previous names include Hochaos, Choghaxes, Hoppertown, Undercliff, New Prospect, the Borough of Orville and presently, the Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus. 

From the time of the Civil War to the end of World War II, Ho-Ho-Kus went through a transition from primarily farmland to an industrialized suburban borough.  Many families used their wealth to build mills along the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook, such as the Rosencrantz family, or owned and operated coal and lumber yards like the Nagle family.  These businesses appealed to the Erie Railroad for a station stop that could be used for the transportation of manufactured items and raw materials.

With the railroad in place, the borough saw an opportunity.  Ho-Ho-Kus tried to attract business through tourism by establishing itself as a recreational destination.  Ho-Ho-Kus built many attractions such as a large lake for swimming, a dance hall, a golf course and a racetrack.  The Bergen County Agricultural Association was formed and started organizing the annual Bergen County fair to be located at the Ho-Ho-Kus Racetrack.  People would travel miles to attend the event, see the exhibits, vendors and the races.  With the added traffic in town, people with larger estates started renting out rooms to boarders so that visitors had somewhere to stay overnight.  There was even one three-story hotel near the old train station by Hollywood Avenue and Franklin Turnpike.  Several of these places experienced a slew of accidents and eventually went out of business, declared bankruptcy or fell into disrepair.  For Bergen County, 1879 “marked the opening of important new recreational and social facilities in HoHoKus, including a new hotel, a racetrack, and a county fair (1).”

 

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Bishcoff, Henry (2011).  Victorian Gothic: The Rosencrantz Family at the Hermitage, 1807-1970. Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ: Friends of the Hermitage, Inc. pg. 175.  

A Forgotten Revolutionary Hero: The Life of William Winds

William Winds is all but forgotten in conversations about the American Revolution.  As one author wrote, “tradition makes sad work with the finer elements of history, retaining as it does only the disconnected anecdotes which are calculated to gratify the popular taste for something striking.” [1] Winds’ story comes down to us largely in anecdotes - some backed by historical evidence, others through oral tradition and, most likely, tall tales of legend.

William Winds rose to the rank of Brigadier General during the American Revolution.  He was born in Long Island, but called Morris County, New Jersey his home for most of his life.  Before the war, Winds was active in the Stamp Act protests.  He briefly chaired the Morris County Freeholders who selected New Jersey representatives for the Continental Congress.  He fought alongside General Washington at the Battle of Monmouth.  Following the Treaty of Paris and America’s failed experiment with confederation, Winds once again served his state and country - this time as a Morris County representative at New Jersey’s state constitutional convention.  

The purpose of this exhibit is to explore the life of a veteran of the American Revolution and an early leader of Morris County.  We will explore his multitude of accomplishments and his ultimate failure which would erase him from future history books.

[1] Rev. Joseph F. Tuttle “Biographical Sketch of William Winds, of Morris Co., New Jersey,” in Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, Series I. Vol. VII. 1853----1855, 14-37, Newark, 1855, 18.

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Evolution of a Main Street

    This exhibit showcases a timeline of Main Street, Butler, NJ starting from around 1880 to the present.  It focuses on key buildings and the events that surrounded them.  In many small towns main streets symbolized a key place where the economy, social events, and industy flourished.  Butler, Main Street was no different and to this day still features many businesses.

    While the street is still a central part of Butler, NJ it has over time felt the strain of big business.  With many large chain stores such as Target, Walmart, and Home Depot popping up in the past 20 years it has had an adverse effect on the success of businesses on Main Street.  This along side some other key events has really brought about a decline of Main Street that is not unique to Butler, NJ.  This exhibit will showcase some of the key buildings and businesses along Main Street as well as changes throughout time that have brought about what I consider to be a decline of the Main Street itself.

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Van Allen House

This web exhibition will show the items found in the Van Allen House, a Dutch-style house located in Oakland, New Jersey. The site holds historical significance to Oakland; not only as the oldest building in town but as the place George Washington himself stayed in on July 14-15, 1777.

The exhibition will show the items I have collected from the house. The house is not dedicated to presenting a single theme.  There are roughly three themes:  the Van Allen House itself, the Revolutionary War in Oakland, and Oakland itself.  Some of these items may not be as impressive when compared to others, but these items and this house offer a fascinating insight into the history of this small town.

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Mastodons

Long after the Dinosaurs roamed the Earth and then died there was a evolution to the animal DNA bring forth animals that are more closely related to today’s animals.  One of these animals that evolved in to a relative of the elephant was the mastodon.  Mastodons were one of the largest mammals from the tertiary period ands lived in a cool to cold climate that was preferred by these animals over warmer weather.  The mastodons were near the Wisconsin glaciation.  The glaciation was at the end of its journey in the northern part of New Jersey.  The advancement and recession of the glacier provided the mastodons with food and the cooler climates that were optimal for the species. 

         Since the mid 1800’s there have been mastodon skeleton finding through out the New Jersey and New York state area.  One of the most traveled and widely known skeletons was found in Monroe, NY in 1844.  This skeleton has been able to travel because of the preservation that it goes through, and although today’s techniques are more effective at preservation there are many fossils that cannot always be saved when exposed to air and light.  The exposure to air and light causes some of the fossils to crumble into dust and are lost forever.

 

There have been three significant skeletal finds in the Sussex county area of New Jersey.  These finds and other relative facts are what this website is about.

 

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