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New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places
 


Introduction

 

 

View or download the Women's  Heritage Trail Book
(PDF Format)


New Jersey's rich past always has included the stories of the lives of a few “famous” women from Annis Boudinot Stockton, a Colonial poet; to Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and the founder of the first public school in New Jersey; to suffragist leader Alice Paul; to pioneering aviator and writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh; to 20th-century political leader Millicent Fenwick. The New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail will lead you on a journey throughout the state, using historic places to tell the collective story of a few of these famous women, and many of the more private women, who contributed to the agricultural, industrial, labor and domestic history of the state. Although women always have comprised over half of the state’s population, the tales of women’s contributions to New Jersey history often have been omitted from our telling of history. The Heritage Trail brings to life the vital role of women in New Jersey’s past and present.

The example pages below illustrate how the Trail is meant to offer both a broad sampling of women’s sites with a wide geographic distribution by county, and a fair distribution of historical trends and themes related to women's roles in New Jersey’s past. Inclusion on the Trail often is based on public accessibility, either for a visitor to a historic house museum, or someone driving by. If a site is not included in this Trail brochure, it does not necessarily mean that the site is insignificant, but sometimes that the site is publicly or visually inaccessible, the owners’ privacy is being protected, or its significance is post-1960, the cutoff date for this brochure. The New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail will continue to change and grow, with sites being added as variables change, such as a historic site being reinterpreted to include the role of women, or the significance of a site becoming “historic” as time passes. We hope to update this brochure periodically to reflect these changes.

The idea for the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail emerged from collaborative work done by the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office and Preservation New Jersey when they helped to organize the first annual conference on women and historic preservation in Bryn Mawr, PA, in 1994. These groups saw the need to tell the story of the important contributions of New Jersey women through the historic sites and places they left behind. In 1999, legislation provided the initial funding to begin research to identify historic sites associated with New Jersey women. With additional funding from the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, and support from the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, work was begun in the summer of 2000. Preservation Partner, a historic preservation consulting firm, carried out this groundbreaking project, with additional scholarly contributions by the Women’s Project of New Jersey. New Jersey is the first state in the country to undertake a statewide comprehensive survey of women’s historic sites.

 


Camden County, Camden City

VICTOR TALKING MACHINE
COMPANY (RCA)

The Victor

1 Market Street,
between Delaware and Front Streets

Private

Women Workers

This Camden landmark is the only industrial building that remains of the original twenty-two Victor Talking Machine Company structures that lined the Camden waterf ront by 1911. Women played an important role in the Victor Talking Machine Company from its founding in 1901. Some of the company’s earliest and most successful recording artists were female opera singers. Early company photos show an all female Statistics Department in the 1920s, and depict women as assembly workers beginning in the 1930s. This cabinet manufacturingbuilding was built between 1909 and 1916, and is well known for its “Nipper Tower”, with its four massive illuminated stained-glass windows depicting the company’s mascot. The original windows, designed by the prestigious D’Ascenzo Studios in Philadelphia, were donated to various local institutions in 1969. In 1978, RCA commissioned D’Ascenzo to replicate their original windows which adorn the tower today. The building has recently been restored and currently houses 341 luxury apartments.

 


Morris County, Mine Hill Township

THE BRIDGET SMITH HOUSE

124 Randolph Avenue

Open to Public

Immigrant Working Women

Bridget Lockman and her husband, John Smith, immigrated from Ireland in the 1850’s following the Irish Potato Famine. They settled in Mine Hill with other Irish immigrant iron mine workers in a section then known as Irishtown. By the time Bridget purchased this double house in 1879 for $300, John had been killed in a local mining accident. She was living on one side raising the two children while renting the other side to another Irish “widow of the mines” with six children. Take a unique glimpse into the past of working class families. Left virtually unchanged since it was built in 1855, the house had a simple conversion in 1912 to accommodate a single family. Listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, it represents the last intact example of worker housing in northern New Jersey. Restored and opened in 1998, the museum is staffed by volunteers on selected dates and by special arrangement to offer insight into the simple but difficult life of immigrant working women raising families in the late 1800’s. For more information, call (973) 366-8768 or write to the Ferromonte Historical Society of Mine Hill, Bridget Smith House, 124 Randolph Avenue, Mine Hill NJ 07803.

 


Monmouth County, Middletown Township

THOMPSON PARK,
BROOKDALE FARM

805 Newman Springs Road

Open to Public

Geraldine livingston Morgan Thompson
(1872 - 1967)
Social Welfare Reformer

Brookdale Farm is a pivotal site in the history and development of Monmouth County, significant as an evolutionary landscape from 18th-century farm to 19th-century horse estate to 20th-century public park and for its association with horseman David Dunham Withers and social welfare reformer Geraldine Livingston Morgan Thompson. Now the administrative headquarters of the Monmouth County Park System, the site is the most complete 19th-century horse estate remaining in Monmouth County, an area long known for the raising and racing of fine horses. Thompson had a long career of political activism and public service on behalf of prison reform, public health and juvenile justice in New Jersey, and was a generous benefactor of psychiatric services and college scholarships for the needy. Geraldine Thompson was active for many years in the state’s Republican Party, and, in 1923, became the first female New Jersey delegate to a Republican National Convention. She shared a great many social welfare interests with her lifelong friend Eleanor Roosevelt, who visited Brookdale Farm on several occasions. During her later life she played an influential role in preserving Island Beach as a state park, and promoted the conser vation of wildlife habitat. During the course of her long life, Geraldine Thompson received many awards and honors, including an honorary Master of Philanthropy degree from Rutgers University in 1931, becoming the first woman in New Jersey to receive such a distinction.

 


Atlantic County, Atlantic City

CONVENTION HALL

Georgia and Mississippi Avenues,
Atlantic City Boardwalk

Private

Site of Miss America Pageant

Atlantic City’s Convention Hall is famous for being the site of the Miss America beauty pageant for most of the years since the building’s completion in 1929, when it was the world’s largest auditorium. Convention Hall was built when Atlantic City was at its peak in popularity as a summer beach resort, and the beauty contest was created in 1921 as an attempt to extend the tourism season beyond Labor Day. The name “Miss America” had been used by late-19th century illustrators to depict the ideal American woman. The tradition of beauty contests in America dates from the 19th-century, when they often were held as part of carnivals and state festivals. While the multi-purpose structure has hosted many other important events over the years, including the 1964 Democratic National Convention when Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for president, it is best known for its association with the Miss America contest.

 


Bergen County, Alpine Borough

WOMEN'S FEDERATION
MEMORIAL

Palisades Interstate Park

Open to Public

New Jersey State Federation of
Women's Clubs

The New Jersey Palisades section of the Hudson River consists of towering sheer rocky cliffs, waterfalls and rock pillars. In the early years of the 19th century, some quarrying began to take place along the Palisades, intensifying after the Civil War when there was a high demand for concrete for construction. By 1890, citizens in both New Jersey and New York began to organize in opposition to the further destruction of the cliffs. In 1894, the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs joined other interested groups to fight for legislation to protect the Palisades. In 1900, as a result of the Federation's efforts, New Jersey’s Governor Foster M. Voorhees and New York’s Governor Theodore Roosevelt formed an Interstate Park Commission whose responsibility was to acquire land along the Palisades to preserve the cliffs and shorefront. The Federation assisted the commission in their fundraising, and the destruction of the Palisades was halted. This Women’s Federation Memorial, acknowledging the key role of the organization in saving the Palisades, was dedicated in a ceremony on April 30, 1929.

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