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North Ward Center Hosts Discussion on History of Forest Hill

The North Ward Center hosted a community event featuring a discussion and slideshow presentation by the authors of a new book on the history of the Forest Hill neighborhood.

Catharine Longendyck, a retired corporate executive and lifelong resident of Forest Hill, and Kathleen P. Galop, an attorney and principal of a historic preservation consulting firm, spoke to about 50 people on Saturday, April 5 about their new book Forest Hill (Images of America Series) published by Arcadia Publishing.

The event was sponsored by the Forest Hill Community Association for residents of the neighborhood who want to learn more about the community in which they live. After the presentation, the authors signed copies of their book.

"We are so appreciative of The North Ward Center for providing the Clark Mansion to host this community event," said Paul Agostini, communications director for the Forest Hill Community Association. "There really is no better place to have a discussion about the history of Forest Hill than right here in this Victorian mansion that is such a well preserved example of the kind of buildings that this neighborhood was so well known for."

The Clark mansion was built in the 1880s by William Clark, a Scottish immigrant who owned a thread business. The mansion overlooked Clark's manufacturing facilities along the Passaic River, which at one time employed as many as 6,000 workers, many of them Scottish immigrants.

The North Ward Center purchased the 33-room mansion in 1972 from the Prospect Hill Country Day School for Girls, a private school that shuttered the school in the early 1970s. In1976, a devastating fire ravaged the third floor and caused extensive damage to the second and first floors.

Adrianne Davis, the co-founder and executive director of The North Ward Center, said the fire was disastrous, but through the hard work of volunteers and generous contributions from foundations and corporations, the Center was able to rebuild the mansion from the ashes. Today, it serves as The North Ward Center's administrative offices and is listed on the state and national resisters of historic places.

"We are an integral part of the Forest Hill community and we are happy to work in partnership with groups like the Forest Hill Community Association to educate the community about the history of this wonderful neighborhood," Davis said.

Stephen N. Adubato, the founder of The North Ward Center, thanked the authors for capturing the history of the Forest Hill neighborhood.

"The book was so informative," said Adubato, who has called Forest Hill home for much of his adult life. "It's amazing to see how much of the neighborhood has changed, yet how much of it remains in tact as it did 100 years ago."

Forest Hill is filled with large homes representing a variety of architectural styles, from Richardsonian Romanesque to Craftsman. A 52-block area of Forest Hill has been designated a National Historic District and is listed in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.

The authors said it was a challenge to find vintage photos of Forest Hill because most of the structures are residential.

"It is much easier to find vintage photos of public buildings," Logendyck said. "But in the end, the hardest part was deciding what we had to leave out due to space considerations."

Galop said the history of how this part of Newark developed, particularly since 1850, is rich and fascinating, mirroring the changes in most large American cities in the second half of the 19th century, as they grew from farming communities to industrialized cities.

"Our hope is that this book will inspire the City of Newark, and in particular the residents of Forest Hill, to take pride in preserving Forest Hill along with the city's other historic neighborhoods, and that all Newark residents will be motivated to take every opportunity to promote these positive features of New Jersey's largest city," Galop said.

"Forest Hill" is Arcadia's eleventh book on Newark.