(West Caldwell, NJ) – During a special presentation held at the West Caldwell Municipal Building, the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders honored the historical societies of five townships in Essex County to commemorate May as Historic Preservation Month. The towns and organizations honored were the Belleville Historical Society, the Historical Society of Bloomfield, the Glen Ridge Historical Society, the Montclair History Center, and the Nutley Historical Society.
Historic Preservation Month began as National Preservation Week in 1973. In 2005, the National Trust extended the celebration to the entire month of May and declared it Preservation Month. Essex County is home to many towns with great historical traditions. The five organizations honored have been active for many years, promoting historic places in their respective towns with the purpose of educating its citizens and instilling community pride.
District 5 Freeholder Carlos Pomares and Freeholder President Brendan Gill co-sponsored the resolution honoring theses historical societies, and they spoke glowingly of their efforts. Freeholder Pomares stated, “The representatives of each of these organizations are the real heroes. They manage with very little, they accomplish their goals, and they are dedicated volunteers who are the keepers of our oral history. From these stories, we can learn a great deal about our ancestors, who we are today, and the kind of future we would like to build.”
Michael Perrone, President of the Belleville Historical Society, enlightened the audience with historical facts about Belleville. “After New York City and Philadelphia, Belleville has more history than 90% of the country.” He continued, “Belleville played a significant role in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and Bellville was an anti-Slavery community before New Jersey outlawed slavery. Belleville was also home to the first Chinese Community on the east coast of the United States.”
Councilman Richard Rockwell, a trustee of the Historical Society of Bloomfield, expressed how gratifying it was for the members of the group to be honored publicly. “Most of the staff members are volunteers who have a passion for history,” he said, “so getting this recognition makes all the work worthwhile.” A representative from each group addressed the audience and thanked the Freeholders, members of their staff, and encouraged everyone to visit their local Historical Society center to learn about the history of their community.