The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hidden Plainfield: First in Preservation

Vintage image by Paul Collier of Plainfield philanthropist George Babcock's home.
(courtesy of Plainfield Public Library).
Today's Hidden Plainfield is a reminder of an old saying that a certain kind of business is always first to see the benefit of historic preservation.

The home shown in the vintage photo from the Plainfield Public Library's collection of Paul Collier photographs belonged to Plainfield tycoon and benefactor George H. Babcock.

Babcock was an inventor whose name and fortune were made along with his partner Stephen Wilcox in the development of explosion-proof steam boilers (see more

The Babcock Building was on the site now occupied by McDonald's
(image courtesy Plainfield Public Library)

He built an elaborate five-story terra cotta decorated office building at West Front and Madison Avenue, which suffered several fires and was finally demolished in 1970 (see more here).
But he was also interested in the arts and architecture and was a benefactor of the Seventh Day Baptist Church on Central Avenue, whose spectacular terra cotta tilework and decorations were made by Babcock's terra cotta factory (see more in Old House Journal article here).

Terra cotta angels atop Seventh Day Baptist Church
summon all to the Judgment Day.
(Photo by Dan Damon)

Do you know where today's property is?

Answer tomorrow.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Higgins Home for Funerals
West 8th St

Michael Townley said...

Higgins Home for Funerals. An interesting side note about the church: George Babcock's face appears on one of the angels in the stained glass skylight window over the altar, along with other prominent founders of the church.

Leon Enyp said...

It looks like it should be on Hillside Ave.

Enyp Leon said...

Looks like Hillside Ave.

Anonymous said...

Higgins Funeral Home on W8th Street between Madison and Central Avenues.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the house is at the corner of 8th and Madison. The hard question is where did Babcock and Wilcox have its offices? Were they in the Babcock Building, and therefore moved out at some point, or was owning a commercial building just a side venture?