Berkeley parks

See a true “deserted village” come to life, October 16-17 – County of Union, New Jersey

Masker’s Barn is one of the many restored buildings that populate the historic abandoned village of Feltville (credit: Union County, NJ).

Enjoy seasonal and historical activities for all ages at the deserted village of Feltville in Union County.

Union County, NU – The deserted village of Feltville will once again host an annual open house with colonial games, cider pressing, an archaeological activity and guided tours as part of the County’s Four Centuries in a Weekend event. ‘Union this Saturday and Sunday October 16 and 17, from noon to 5:00 p.m. every day.

All Four Centuries weekend activities are rain or shine, and most are free. Enter the deserted village from Cataract Hollow Road, off Glenside Avenue (use GPS address 1 Cataract Hollow Road, Berkeley Heights). Free parking is available at the entrance to the site.

Visitors can pick up a free guide in the parking lot or use their mobile phones to take an audio tour. A list of activities will be available at the reception table.

This year, the Deserted Village will feature new attractions, including special presentations by a historian and archaeologist, and a new historical photo exhibit.

“Preserving the deserted village has been a rewarding experience, and it is very gratifying to see tens of thousands of Union County residents come to enjoy and appreciate this unique historic site each year with their family and friends,” said said Alexander Mirabella, chairman of the Union County Council of Commissioners. . “This year, visitors will also have the chance to see the restoration work in progress. “

The abandoned village of Feltville is located on the Watchung Reservation in Union County. It was established in 1845 by entrepreneur David Felt, who built a stationery, workers’ quarters and other buildings for community use.

As part of the weekend’s festivities, David Felt’s ‘ghost’ will wander through the gardens of the Deserted Village and converse with visitors, telling the stories of the industrial city he built and recounting the memories of the people who worked in his mill, on his farm, and in his shop and school.

At 1 p.m. each day, Mr. Felt will also offer a 20-minute wheelchair tour from the front porch of his general store.

Activities for children will include old-fashioned games on the deserted village’s grass tennis court, painting pumpkins, using quill and ink to write, and searching for artifacts on the ground. site of the Felt house.

A small apple orchard has been recreated along Cataract Hollow Road as a reminder of the 600-acre farm established by Mr. Felt to provide food for the villagers. A hands-on demonstration of pressed apples in cider will take place throughout the Four Centuries weekend.

Visitors of all ages can also bring their “Passport to Your National Parks” to the general store and have it stamped, in recognition of Union County as one of the 14 counties included in the Crossroads of the American National Heritage Zone. Revolution.

While at the general store, visitors are invited to view exhibits of artifacts, photographs, and maps depicting the history of the deserted village across four centuries.

Nostalgic candy, snacks, toys and games will be on sale at the store. Families are also welcome to pack a picnic and use one of the nearby picnic tables.

The beautifully restored Masker’s Barn carriage shed, dating from around 1882, will be open for the weekend. Visitors can tour the grounds and view a photo exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Union County Park System.

Visitors are also invited to linger outside Masker’s Barn and roast marshmallows around a campfire with the original Guardian’s Ghost.

Going even further back in time, visitors can take a short walk to a small family cemetery on a hill just beyond the general store. John Willcocks, a New Jersey militia soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War alongside General George Washington’s regular army, will be there to make his will and tell stories of relatives buried at the site.

The deserted village has undergone many changes since its inception as David Felt’s business enterprise. Over the years, it was used as a resort, artists’ retreat, and emergency accommodation during the Great Depression.

In the 1970s, the deserted village was almost forgotten. Fortunately, restoration work continued during the 21st century. Among other recent projects, a grant of $ 450,000 from the NJ Historic Trust has been devoted to the stabilization, restoration and rehabilitation of Cottage 7 and Cottage 4.

Several researchers, both self-taught and professional, have also uncovered tantalizing details about the fascinating history of people who lived, worked and even died at the site.

A special program on October 16 and 17 will offer visitors a glimpse of some of their work, through the eyes of historian Priscilla Hayes and archaeologist Carissa Scarpa.

On Saturday, October 16 at 2 p.m., Ms Scarpa will discuss archaeological research at the Raddin-Badgley family farm and Ms Hayes will add three mysteries from the history of the village to the presentation.

On Sunday, October 17 at 2:00 p.m., Ms Hayes will describe life in the late 1800s when the abandoned village served as a seaside resort called Glenside Park, with Ms Scarpa providing further details on the archaeological records.

Priscilla Hayes inherited her lifelong love of this region from her grandfather, historian and genealogist Edwin Baldwin of Summit, who took her with her siblings as a child. She used her skills as a freelance writer and retired lawyer to write a book describing how this tiny village illuminates almost all of New Jersey history.

Carissa Scarpa began her archaeological work in Feltville in 2000 as part of an undergraduate field school with Montclair State University. She completed her master’s thesis at the Raddin-Badgley House site in Feltville in 2017. A professional in cultural resource management for over 20 years, she currently oversees National Historic Preservation Act compliance for the US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

For more information on the deserted village of Feltville, visit the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation online at

Details on the programs and activities of 30 other historic sites participating in the Four Centuries in a Weekend event are available at

For locations, times, special events, and other details on over 30 other historic sites participating in Four Centuries in a Weekend this year, visit the Union County Office of Cultural Affairs and Heritage / parks-recreation / cultural-heritage-affairs or call (908) 558-2550.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution, and other health services. support, visit General information on COVID-19 is available from the New Jersey Department of Health at

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For all Union County programs and services, visit, call the public information line, 877-424-1234, email [email protected], or use the online contact form.

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