The one thing I refuse to do on Father’s Day is to spend the day at the cemetery. I know that is some people’s idea of honoring one’s family members but it is not mine. I went on Friday and paid my respects to my father (whom this blog is dedicated to) and spent time remembering some of the good times we had in past. I dropped some cut flowers from our gardens (some of which he planted) and said a small prayer. Then I left.
My idea of honoring my father and spending Father’s Day with him is to do something that we would have shared together. We were always running around somewhere and exploring something new and doing something fun. That is how I wanted to honor him. By being active and giving him a toast at Sunday dinner.
Don’t miss all the historical sites and interesting restaurants of this wonderful NJ beach town.
Somers Point, NJ is such a picturesque and historical town with lots of historical sites and delicious restaurants to visit. It is fun to just get in the car and drive the Historic District and see how the town has grown and developed.
I took time out of my walking project in Manhattan after finishing the Chelsea neighborhoods, walking the 13-mile Broadway walk for the sixth time and preparing to do “The Great Saunter” on my own next week to go ‘down the shore’ as we say in New Jersey (it’s never ‘Down to the Shore”, that takes too long).
I had never been to Somers Point, NJ before. It is a small waterfront community across the bay from Ocean City, NJ, which is a popular resort and recreation town. Somers Point is low key with wonderful restaurants and bars, a popular waterfront and beaches on The Great Egg Harbor Bay and beautiful little turn of the century beach homes and a town steeped in history. I read about three historical spots on Shore Drive in the heart of the Historic District and had wanted to visit them.
I got to the Church Landing Farm in plenty of to tour the house and the grounds. What an interesting museum that is full of surprises. When they unlock the sheds to show you the displays, they are a real wonder of fascinating artifacts each with its own theme.
The house was built by Daniel Garrison between 1840-1845 and was the home for five generations of the Garrison family up to 1973 when the last living relative, Anna Locuson died and did not leave an heir. In 1991, Atlantic City Electric worked with the Pennsville Township Historical Society to open this as a museum.
As I toured the floors with the docent, I noticed all the beautiful antiques. These items are all donations to the home. The only items of the Garrison family are portraits and pictures that were donated by the family over the years. On the lower floors are the kitchen, the Living Room and the Dining Room all decorated in a Victorian style. The kitchen looked like it was from the 1920’s with all sorts of kitchen items from a period of the 1880’s to the 1920’s.
When we toured the upstairs bedrooms, one was decorated with children’s furnishings and toys. The other bedroom was decorated for adults and had once served as the Master Bedroom for the home. The house also has a complete Research Library for people to find genealogy about their families who lived in town and of Pennsville, NJ.
When you tour the outside sheds, this is when the museum really shines. When each shed on the property is opened for the tour, you get to see the whole collection of artifacts. There is a small one room schoolhouse on the property that served the community from 1837-1919, a period outhouse and a piece of art from the old electrical building that was located on the bay.
Each of the sheds has its own theme. One of them is dedicated to the high schools with all their uniforms and trophies, yearbooks and pictures of various sports teams. There is all sorts of spirit equipment and high school artifacts.
Another is a floating Fishing Cabin that was moved to the ponds and lakes when people wanted to ice fish and all the equipment you needed to perform the task. There was another shed that had all sorts of Military artifacts from various wars along with items from the local fire and police departments as well as the VFW. There was a display on the “Sunbeam”, the local paper of Pennsville and its former editor.
The most impressive, shed display was of the Pennsville Beach Park, a former amusement park that was located in the current park until 1969. The display has all sorts of artifacts that include signs, old ride cars, signs, pictures, maps and items from the games. The are all sorts of items such as prizes that were won, pamphlets and signs from the park. It really brings the old park back to life.
One of the sheds is used as Santa’s House during the holidays as well as the house will be fully decorated for the Christmas holidays. Santa and his wife make an appearance at the busy open house.
Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Pennsville Historical Society
I was able to tour the grounds though and walk through the small gardens. The grounds had the most spectacular views of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I am sure much of this did not exist in that time frame but still it is the most amazing view especially on a sunny day like I had. The sun has the most amazing shine on the water from this direction.
Even when the house is not open, still take time to tour the grounds and visit the outer buildings. It is a nice walk around the property.
The History of the Church Landing Farmhouse/Penn Township Historical Society:
(From the Pennsville Township Historical Society website):
The Church Landing Farmhouse was built in 1840 by Daniel Garrison. In 1991, the Atlantic City Electric Company provided structural renovations to the house and a group of dedicated volunteers from the community restored the farmhouse and grounds to their current glory.
The Church Landing Farmhouse grounds currently house a 130 year old Floating Fishing Cabin, a 100 year old Wash House owned by Pennsville Physician Dr. James, the 100 year old Perry Farm Privy (the farm is located on the Pennsville-Salem Road), the Riverview Beach Park Museum, a 1929 Art Deco Tile from the original Deepwater Generating Station building, a one room Schoolhouse, and the historic records that features PMHA, Salem and SCCS Yearbooks, local genealogy, Township Obituaries (2010-2020), Federal NJ Township Census Records and local history.
The displays at the museum feature newspaper clipping and a section on local newsman Bill Gallo Jr., police, fire and military from the area, high school yearbooks and displays, ferry and excursion ships, antique looms, sewing machines and spinning wheels, antique tools and church records.
I was very impressed by the Nicholas Gibbon House when I took a tour one Saturday afternoon. There were no large crowds to deal with and the parking is perfect with plenty of room to move around. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with all sorts of seasonal flowers surrounding the house. When I visited I thought I was mistaken and it was someone’s home. There was a lot of care put into both the exterior and interior of this home.
Nicolas Gibbon was a local merchant who moved to Greenwich in 1730 and continued to live here until the 1760’s. The tour guide explained to me that the townspeople would not let him build a church here (it was a Quaker region) so he and his wife decided to move out of the area. Richard Wood and his family moved into the house in 1760 and lived in the house until the 1920’s. Over that time, parts of the house were modernized and rebuilt. The Wood family later in the generations founded the WaWa store chain.
With the exception of the Nicolas Gibbon’s nephew and his wife’s portraits, all of the furnishings are not originally from the house. The downstairs is set up with a formal dining room and parlor area fully furnished in Victorian era furniture, paintings, rugs and silver. The silver collection of the house is very elaborate and some of the pieces came from the Hershey family of Pennsylvania.
The library and study has rare books that were used for research as well as a working fireplace that was used for both light and heat. Downstairs is the kitchen with a large hearth and all the equipment and serving items for kitchen and dining use for the home.
The tour guide explained to me that during some of the past fundraisers, the hearth was used to cook foods of the time period that were served for events.
Upstairs you have an elaborate master bedroom with all sorts of formal furnishings for a upper middle class family living in the area. What was the interesting part of the second floor of the home was the “Everything Room”, which contained a extensive collection of toys and dolls, Civil War historic items, period clothing, bonnets, top hats and parasols, an extensive collection of quilts and Hair Art which was a Victorian tradition of making art from the hair of the dead.
There was a collection of ‘Sewing Samplers’, which is how young women learned how to perfect their sewing skills which was part of their domestic training for being a housewife.
The collection of the house really gave a glimpse into the lives of people from the 1840’s until almost WWI. How much life has changed but not too much.
Historic Marker outside the home
History of the Gibbon House:
In 1730, Nicholas Gibbon who had inherited more than 3000 acres of land nearby, bought a 16 acre lot in Greenwich on which he built a replica of a London Townhouse he had admired. The brick, fired on the property, was laid in the Flemish Bond pattern brought from Kent, England: this design is achieved by using a red stretcher and blue header producing a definite and attractive pattern. Rubbed brick is a further architectural feature, outlining each door and window opening as well as being used to emphasize the four corners of the house.
The Upstairs bedroom at the Gibbon House (Cumberland Historical Society.com)
The home, appropriately furnished with products of 18th and 19th century atrisans contains a reception hall, a paneled dining room, a formal drawing room and a kitchen dominated by a huge walk-in fireplace in which demonstration of colonial open-fire cooking are conducted.
The walk-in fireplace at the Gibbon House (Cumberland Historical Society.com)
There is a small store on the back porch where post cards, gifts and a fine collection of books and pamphlets on the history of the area may be purchased.
On second floor, in addition to a bedroom, are exhibits of 19th century locally made, rush seated. “Ware” chairs, children’s toys, dolls and clothing as well as Civil War artifacts donated by local families.