The Chester Historical Society/Chester Rockefeller Center has just been moved to Downtown Chester and is currently being renovated. Their collection is in storage right now while the building is being renovated. When I went to visit the museum, they were displaying their plans for the museum in the future outside the building.
The Chester Historical Society is currently open only at certain times and the collection is in storage while renovating. They are telling the town’s story on both a story board outside and on tables outside the building while it is being set up. Please check out their website for upcoming events and openings.
The new building
The game plan for the museum.
The History of the Building of the Chester Historical Society:
(From the Chester Historical Society’s website)
Chester’s Little “Rockefeller Center” building has seen many unique tenants in its day! In 1897, Mr. W. J. Litzenberger was reported to be doing a located behind the building. This is where he carved gravestones for the locals and used the building as his sales office and display area.
Also in the late 1800’s, the Post Office was located in Alonzo P. Green’s Pharmacy across from the firehouse. “Lawyer” Smith (postmaster), who was the son in law of General Cooper, was soon to move the Post Office across the road to Yawger’s store and later to the “Rockefeller Center” building, which was just east of the firehouse.
When Chester’s Iron “Hey-Day” waned out, fortunate were those who could return to farming. They could put their efforts into raising peaches, apples and garden produce and often used it as barter for “store-bought necessities” to provide for their families. Horses and cattle were important to the farmer and also to the townsmen. From earliest days drovers had driven horses and other livestock through Chester on their way to and from Susses County. From the mid-1800’s horses and mules were brought from as far as the Midwest to be sold.
During the late 1920’s and into the 30’s and 40’s, Abraham Meyer, who boarded with Austin Thompson, bought and sold cattle and had them located at the present Lowensteiner farm on North Road. During that time, he had an office for his cattle dealer’s business in the “Rockefeller Center” building.
After that, the Rockefeller family rented not only the cottage for them to live in but also the little building next to it from George E. Conover. The cottage was ordered and built from the Sears & Roebuck Company and was located to the left of the “Rockefeller Center” building. At this time, Carlos “Rocky” Rockefeller used the building for a bicycle shop where you could not only purchase a bike but also get one fixed! He would also sharpen the local children’s ice skates there.
COVID had closed this unique little family orientated museum when I visited the NoMAD neighborhood earlier last year and it finally reopened for business right before the holidays. I could see the reasons why in that the museum is very interactive and there are a lot of activities and displays that warrant families touching objects and getting involved with the exhibitions.
Like most museums in Manhattan, the MoMATH or the Museum of Mathematics is quite pricey at $25.00 ($26.00) for an adult and for students, children over 12 and seniors over 60 it is $20.00. While it may be lot for an average family, a trip there is an eye-opening experience at least to me it was that day.
The museum has two full floors of exhibitions with a spiral staircase separating the floors and a gift shop at the entrance. On the main floor there are interesting interactive exhibitions such as the Shapes of Space that show how different shapes fit together on a curved surface. I was not too sure what the point of it was, but the kids seemed to enjoy it and it was interesting to see how they connected. The Square wheeled Trike was interesting as you rode a square wheeled type of bike on a bumpy surface to check velocity. The kids and young parents really liked this.
The “Shapes of Space” exhibition
The displays I enjoyed on the main floor were Motionscape, where you had to walk as fast as you could on the track to check the relationship between velocity, your position and acceleration. It was interesting to see how your body movements when walking affects the way you react. The other display that was really popular was Hoop Curves which was always busy. The exhibit used statistics and a robot arm to shoot the basketball. The kids got a real kick out of this when trying to make a basket.
On the lower level, there were more interactive displays along with an explanation of the math along with the creators of the theory. I found that interesting because you could see who all the mathematicians were who the projects were based on or who had contributed to them.
One of the interactive displays that I enjoyed was the Tessellation Station, where you could create displays with magnetic tiles on a large board. Later I learned about Tessellation as a form of making shapes fit together in a pattern and then the theory behind that. It was a fun way to use your creativity.
The “Tessellation Station” exhibition is a lot of fun
Another was the Tree of Life, where the computer copied the movements of myself and then used them to show the how I moved my arms and legs in a pattern. It was funny to see myself repeated over and over again like a tree with branches. It really did measure the movement of my body.
The Twist and Roll display showed how to put different shapes and sizes together and show their movement on the board. The one display that all the kids got a kick out of was the Math Board, where the colors and shapes of the section of the floor lit up when you walked on them and was controlled by the way you walked on them.
The “Math Board”
The Museum of Mathematics is a great museum for younger children who want to get physical and have a good time and like the interaction. I learned a few things too about the fundamentals of math and some of its background theories.
Still, it is a great museum for kids under the age of twelve and their younger parents. I think anything over that age would warrant a trip to the American Museum of Natural History or the Liberty Science Center with more exhibits that are age appropriate. It is a museum you should visit once or twice with small children who are at the learning stage and just want to have fun.
The History of the National Museum of Mathematics:
(From the museum website)
The National Museum of Mathematics began in response to the closing of a small museum of mathematics on Long Island, the Goudreau Museum. A group of interested parties (the “working group”) met in August 2008 to explore the creation of a new museum of mathematics-one that would go well beyond the Goudreau in both its scope and methodology. The group quickly discovered that there was no museum of mathematics in the United States, and yet there was a incredible demand for hands0n math programming.
Accomplishments to date include: opening Manhattan’s only hands-on science center, welcoming more than one million visitors; creating the popular Math Midway exhibition, which has delighted millions of visitors at museums throughout the United States and internationally; leading math tours in various U.S. cities; running dozens of Math Encounters and Family Fridays events; delivering a broad array of diverse and engaging programs for students, teachers, and the public to increase appreciation of mathematics and creating the largest public outdoor demonstration of the Pythagorean Theorem ever.
Mathematics illuminates the patterns that abound in our world. The National Museum of Mathematics strives to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics. Its dynamic exhibits and programs stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity and reveal the wonders of mathematics. The Museum’s activities lead a broad and diverse audience to understand the evolving, creative, human and aesthetic nature of mathematics.
I recently went on a Lantern Tour of Hope, NJ’s downtown district for the Christmas holiday season visiting this once Moravian founded town. The evening was an interesting tour of the history of this small town near the Delaware Water Gap with visits to historical homes of the residents of the town and the manufacturing hub.
We toured the historic downtown district that was ablaze with lights and garland learning about the residential and commercial district and the role it played in the development of the town. We toured the former Grist Mill, Cannery, Distillery, homes and former barns and churches and given a short history of them.
We toured the Historical Society which had a collection of artifacts from the town including pictures of the town at various times of history, resident’s personal affects including gloves, shoes and glasses and family heirlooms. There is also a small assortment of vintage furniture from different periods. The building may have been small but it was packed with information.
The displays included old photographs and local memorabilia, an 1850 map of Warren County, NJ, genealogy of the town’s residents and historic documents, primitive furniture and Moravian history (Hope Historical Society). Two of the major fundraisers that the Society has is the Christmas Craft Market and the Lantern Tour.
The Hope Lantern Tour on December 11th and 12th, 2021
This is the ‘Hope Lantern Tour’ on December 11th, 2021:
We continued the tour as the night grew darker and the town lit up with all its Christmas glory. There were supposed to be 1500 luminaries but because of the upcoming rainstorm that was supposed to arrive later that evening, they canceled them. The rest of the town was adorned with white lights and garlands. We started the tour at the Hope Community Center where food and bathrooms were available.
The Hope Community Center on Hope Blairstown Road
We moved to what was once the manufacturing center of the town and passed the former factories and manufacturing took place. We then walked down the hill to the Inn at Millstone Creek, where the Christmas tree display was located. We then moved up the hill to visit the Hope Historical Society.
High Street leading to the Inn at Millrace Pond
This is “Trout Pass” where people avoided paying the tolls on the bridge
We then walked to the home across the street from most of the buildings where the businesses were located and heard the tales of Moravian Christmases past. All that talk about Gingerbread house making and baking to get ready for the holiday feast made us all hungry.
The home on High Street across from the businesses
We made our way to former homes that are now a local bank were light with white lights along the doors and windows. The First Hope Bank was once known as the ‘Gemeinhaus’, which was the church/community center of the Village of Hope. It was built in 1781.
The walking tour showcased the town beautifully
The First Hope Bank at dusk
The home on High Street where the “Live Nativity” was located
Our last part of the tour, we visited someone’s garage for a ‘Live Nativity’ of the Baby Jesus and was told the story from the Bible about the birth of Christ. The actors involved were very interesting but they could have cleaned the garage of the modern items located on the side of it.
Downtown Hope, NJ is so beautiful at Christmas
We ended up back at the Community Center as they were cleaning up and I went to visit the ‘Festival of Trees’ at the Inn at Millrace Pond that itself was closed for renovation. I was the last one on the tour to visit what was the dining room to see various Christmas trees decorated by members of the community. It was a very festive room with Christmas of various shapes and sizes each decorated with a different theme and tables set elaborately for Christmas Dinner. I really liked the one that the elementary school students had created with the handwritten artwork and letters to Santa.
After I left the Inn at Millrace Pond, everything had wrapped up for the evening and the town was really quiet. I was starved and found the only open restaurant in the area, Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road located in a small strip mall. The pizza here is excellent (see my review on TripAdvisor).
The last part of the evening was spent at the Moravian Candlelight Service at the St. John’s Methodist Church. This beautifully run service included all the traditional Christmas Carols, a very engaging talk by the former pastor and a candlelight ceremony towards the end service. You can see the whole service on the St. John’s Methodist Church’s Facebook page.
This took about an hour. By the time I got to my car, it started to mist and then rain. It was pouring by the time I got on the highway. Still, it was a wonderful evening of touring and it put me in the Christmas spirit.
The History of the Hope Historical Society:
(From the Hope Historical Society website)
The Hope Historical Society & Museum are located at 323 High Street (Route 519 North) at the top of a stone bridge within the State and National Historic Register District in Hope Township, NJ. The tiny frame building was thought to be the original 1820’s toll keeper’s house. It was used as a private home until 1955, when it was restored by the Hope Historical Society and became the current museum and organizations headquarters.
Historical Society meetings with guest speakers of topics of historical interest are held April-November on the first Tuesday of the month, generally, at the Hope Community Center.