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History House

The J. Smith Richardson History House (1873):
A Camp Meeting Cottage Museum
32 Trinity Place

Open to the Public: Second Sundays 12 to 4,
and by appointment: 973-975-0001

The Mount Tabor Historical Society is privileged to share our historic community, founded as a post-Civil War permanent Camp Meeting ground, as well as the Richardson History House a Camp Meeting Cottage Museum. The 1873 History House invites visitors to travel back to another era and see what it was like to spend a summer "camp meeting style" in the cottage of J. Smith and Lydia Richardson.



An image from 2008:

About the Richardson History House:
 

The Mount Tabor Historical Society acquired one-third of this unique triple cottage in August 2007 as a generous bequest from Evelyn Blackford Clark (Aug. 6, 1911 - Oct. 17, 2005). Mrs. Clark was a member of the historical society and lived in the right-third of the triple cottage since 1948. Her great uncle was J. Smith Richardson, first owner of the unit, and she had many memories of being in the house long before it was handed down to her. She had always wanted the house to become a "History House." The Society is honored to carry out Mrs. Clark's desire to educate residents and visitors on the proud history of both the J. Smith Richardson Cottage and Mount Tabor. The Society intends to illustrate early Mount Tabor life through this largely unchanged and intact camp meeting cottage. From its original stenciled recessed-panel walls to its expansive glass doors we truly believe "these walls can talk!" Our gratitude goes to Evelyn Clark and the entire extended Blackford family who entrusted us with this mission.

The triple cottage was built in 1873. It is said that when the three men who owned the tent lots planned to build their cottages, it was decided to join them together in order to take best advantage of the small tent lots. This resulted in a charming version of the townhouse. The History House occupies the portion owned by J. Smith Richardson of Jersey City, who served as treasurer of the Camp Meeting Association for 22 years, ending in 1907. On his retirement the CMA issued a resolution lauding his service and presented him with a Morris chair, which is on display in the parlor. This is the only cottage in the old section of Mount Tabor that has never been sold.

 

An image from its early days:

As Referenced in the Mt. Tabor Record Newspaper

In 1877 the treble cottage was described, "Architecturally this is one of the prettiest buildings on the grounds, and the very appearance denotes taste and refinement. It is ornamented by a French roof, bay windows and plate glass door, and is in every essential a beautiful place of residence." It was reported in 1882: "Their main front is on Trinity Place. In fact they have two fronts, the property running through to Wesley Place, a park enclosed by a neat fence, built more for ornament than protection. This farm, which is but just laid out, is traversed by paths laid in blue stone. The dwellings are furnished in most excellent taste, we may say luxuriantly. They are provided with bath rooms, lavatories, and other modern improvements on both floors."

Interior Restoration of the Cottage

Linoleum was removed from the floor of the living and dining rooms to reveal the original pine floor. The floor was then sanded, oiled and sealed. The resulting warm color matches the lighter color in the striped wainscoting. The sheet rock and suspended ceiling were removed in the kitchen to expose the original bead-board paneling. The linoleum floor in this room was also removed to reveal a floor that needed to be replaced. We will add family history to our collection using pictures to show how life was spent during the summer in Camp Meeting days. We continue to search for period furniture and accessories appropriate for the house. Restoration will continue upstairs in the three bedrooms and bathroom.

Exterior Restoration of the Cottage

Much preparation went into the huge undertaking to paint the exterior. Carpentry repairs and prep work were done to ready the structure. Historic paint colors were manipulated on a digital photograph of the cottage to explore potential paint schemes and help determine the final color choices, always with a mind to the appropriateness to time and place. During July of 2008 the exterior painting was completed. We wish to thank Painten' Place of Denville, who helped us complete this project with their generous donation of Benjamin Moore Paint.

 

 

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