Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hidden Plainfield: Where horses and carriages once lived

Horses, carriages, and sometimes staff, lived in outbuildings such as this one.

Plainfield's arrival as a suburban bedroom community of New York financiers and such (as opposed to a fresh air resort which it had been from the 1840s) came in the wake of the Civil War; its charter, received from the Legislature in 1869, kicked off a long period of growth.

It was no accident the wards were numbered as they were (and remain): the First Ward was the
FIRST Ward, where the wealthiest folks at first lived, East Front Street being lined with mansions. The Second Ward was where Job Male set his gaze as a developer and booster, with the district of mansionettes sited around the land he donated for the building of Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. (A Unitarian himself, he reserved a much more modest plot for his own denomination; he was nothing if not pragmatic.)

The Third Ward was basically undeveloped until into the 1870s and 1880s, and the Fourth Ward was already where  much of Plainfield's industrial concerns were sited, and crowded with affordable housing for workers, except for a few grand Victorians on Myrtle Avenue.

One concomitant of this growth was the construction of CARRIAGE HOUSES
of all sizes and materials, to house the horses, carriages, hay, feed and tackle -- as well as,  sometimes, the help to manage same.

Though many are now gone and a few have been converted into striking homes (I can think of three off the top of my head), there are many still standing, some in quite good condition.

I enjoy espying them while driving around town, as I hope you do, too.

Do you know where today's example is located?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Dorrie Neisel Johnson said...

As a child I lived at 917 Watchung Ave. I moved out of the third story apartment in 1952 and there was still a large carriage house in the back yard. A second floor was for storage and I remember my father finding a dead mouse in one of his winter galoshes.