About 1736, Peter Willcocks built a sawmill along the Blue Brook to produce lumber needed by farmers as they settled this frontier area. Hundreds of acres of forest were cleared by this sawmill operation.
In 1845 David Felt bought 760 acres of land and built a printing factory along the brook. To support the mill operation, he built an entire town on the bluff above the brook. He named it Feltville. By 1850, 175 people were living here. In 1860, Felt retired. Other business ventures were tried but failed. The town became deserted for a short time.
Warren Ackerman bought the property in 1882. He converted the former mill town into a summer resort called Glenside Park. Eventually the Jersey Short displaced the popularity of this mountain resort. Glenside Park closed in 1916.
In 1921 the Union County Park System was formed and this area was incorporated into the Watchung Reservation. Today ten historic building still remain on the grounds. Some are still inhabited.
The Historical Society of Scotch Plains and Fanwood is thrilled to hold its monthly meeting at the Masker’s Barn of the Deserted Village. Daniel Bernier, the resident caretaker of the Deserted Village since 1992, will tell us about the interesting history of Feltville. For 30 years, Dan has supervised the restoration of the Deserted Village in Feltville. He garnered 4 NJ historic preservation grants totaling $1.1 million that have helped the Board of Chosen Freeholders stabilize the 10 building in this historic mill town and summer resort. Its Church/General Store Building and an 1885 carriage house known as Masker’s Barn have been restored.
Dan graduated from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in Anthropology. He did graduate work in Anthropology at New York University and earned a Certificate in Public Administration from Kean College. Since 1982, Dan has been employed by the County of Union in its Parks Department. For 3 years he was a Park Naturalist and Museum Curator at the Trailside Nature & Science Center. He then became the County’s park planner.
Everyone is invited to this road trip meeting. The meeting starts at 7:00 PM on Tuesday May 24th. The GPS address is 13 Cataract Hollow Road, Berkeley Heights. Drive past the Road Closed signs and continue slowly about ½ mile to Masker’s Barn at the end where there is parking. You can also try this link for a closer address to the site.
If you want to carpool or fallow in a caravan, be at the Scotch Plains Municipal Building parking lot by 6:45pm. Refreshments and fellowship follow the meeting.