Kip's Castle and Park
The security guard at Montclair Art Museum advised us to visit Kip's Castle, the latest addition to Essex County's park system. We had some trouble finding it, but then a nice lady volunteered to drive us there. When we got there the janitor would not let us in, because the castle had been rented out for three months for a movie production. However the same lady pulled some strings using her mobile phone, and in the end we got the tour of the building.
The castle, built in 1902 by Frederick Kip, was the textile manufacturer’s residence until he sold it in 1926. Lately the estate served as office to a law firm before the county bought it for $ 5,600,000 on March 1, 2007. The new acquisition was unveiled by the county in May with a medieval party for Essex residents, featuring King Arhur and Queen Guinevere.
So the park and building now are public property, it pays to insist that you are entitled to see them. The exterior and the interior of the castle are quite impressive, but we think the county needs to undo all the modifications made by the law firm and restore the stained glass windows which have been removed by a previous owner.
From the tower one has a fine view of the New York skyline (as from the Eagle Rock memorial).
- Castles and Palaces
Catch a Concert at the Wellmont
Dine at one of the many restaurants in downtown Montclair and then go to a concert at the Wellmont Theatre. Visit the Wellmont website to get a current concert calendar. The Theatre was built in 1921 and is in process of being renovated.
- Theater Travel
- Arts and Culture
Van Vleck House and Gardens
While we were in Montclair to visit the Art Museum, we met a friendly lady who showed us around some more interesting places. One of these was the Van Vleck House and Gardens.
Originally a private estate of the Van Vleck family, the estate is now in the hands of the Montclair Foundation, who transformed the house into a center for non-profit activities. The house was built in 1916 by Joseph Van Vleck Jr. It recalls the classic architectural style of a Mediterranean village.
The last family member to reside here was Howard Van Vleck. His interests reached beyond gardening and garden design to include the scientific aspects of horticulture. He hybridized rhododendrons, working to create a clear, yellow-flowering variety. A number of his hybrids survive as special elements in the garden and several have been registered and named for Van Vleck family members.
For more information see the website.
Eagle Rock 9/11 Memorial and Reservation
Overlook the New York skyline from Eagle Rock Reservation, where scores of people watched the September 11 attacks. To commemorate this tragic event Essex County dedicated a memorial on this site, which was designed and built by sculptor and artist Patrick Morelli.
The centerpieces consist of a bronze bald eagle perched on a tree, a book with the names of those lost from Essex County, and a girl, Gabrielle, with a teddy bear. The concrete barrier wall was replaced by polished granite with the names and hometowns of all who were lost in the attacks.
The memorial lies in Eagle Rock Reservation, which consists of 408 acres of hills, streams, and valleys on the border between West Orange and Montclair. Though located in the middle of the most densely populated county of New Jersey, the Reservation is mostly undeveloped and boasts an extensive trail system within its borders.
- National/State Park
- Historical Travel
Montclair Art Museum
A small museum that is known for it's collection of Native American artwork, they also have special exhibitions, a very interesting permanant collection and a recent acquisitions gallery that showcases the museums newest works.
When we visited, the special exhibtion was of the work of Jan Matulka: The Global Modernist. Two large rooms are devoted to his work, with text eplaning the evolution of the artists work. It was very interesting.
We will definately be returning to see the next special exhibtion. We found the museum to be a wonderful place to view art, and we didn't even have to go into Manhattan!:)
The museum has a great little gift shop you should pop into as well. We got some wonderful holiday cards!!!
Museum Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
Admission Fees: Admission is free to members and children under 12; non-member adults, $8, $6 senior citizens and students. Admission is free to everyone on Fridays between 11 a.m. and 1p.m.
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Montclair Art Museum
Great smaller art museum, recently completely renovated. Has a spetacular Native American collection and American artist collection as well as some innovative temporary exhibits. A few years ago they had sculptors create outdoor pieces that were incorporated into a miniature golf course. It was amazing and fun.
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