Monday, January 27, 2020

Here's a Bright Idea: Visit a National Park

140 years ago today -- Jan. 27, 1880 -- Thomas Edison's received his patent for the light bulb.

I learned this fact on Saturday on a visit with some photography friends to the National Park Service's site in West Orange, NJ.

This is one of my favorites of all the national parks in New Jersey. Like the Great Falls in Paterson, the Thomas Edison National Historical Park is close to home... and very photogenic.

You can take a virtual tour using the National Park Service's great online resources, including this picture guide

To me, our national parks always manage to provide enlightening perspectives. I mean, you'd think light bulbs would older than 140, considering all the advancements since, right?

Here's a short slideshow with some of my images from this weekend:

I hope this encourages you to visit and take in some history. The rangers there are friendly and helpful.

And photos, including selfies with life-sized Edison cutouts, are welcome (provided you don't use flash).

This is in contrast to the now-closed J.D. Salinger exhibit I recently visited at the New York Public Library, where all photography was prohibited.

I suppose, though, that was on-brand for Salinger, who provided his own enlightening perspectives in his own way... and who, alas, died 10 years ago today, 130 years after the invention of the light bulb.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Fighting to Save Endangered Historic Sites

Photo: David Woeller

You and I will never again have the chance to see, in real life, one of the New Jersey's most iconic sites -- the rustic A.M.E. church in Bivalve (on the state's southern shore).

This David Woeller photo is reprinted with permission from a 2014 story in The Press of Atlantic City, one of several news items in recent years about art or photography exhibits that have included images of the church.

This building was demolished this past week.

Here's an Instagram post by @tinychurchesnj with links to several photos and detailed comments about this sad news.

The #Bivalve AME Church was lost this weekend. We have contacted the news but haven’t seen any coverage yet besides these posts from Facebook. The property was owned by Bivalve Packing Co and we are told they had plans to restore the church. The last we saw was over the summer when we shared a photo of the old roof ripped off with a post that said it would be replaced. Apparently it never was. The rain poured in for half a year until the structure was so deteriorated it got torn down. We don’t know why Bivalve Packing didn’t finish the restoration. Why the destruction was sped up by the removal of the roof or the demolition by bulldozer, we also don’t know. We only wish we knew about it before it was too late. This is a major loss to the black history of South Jersey. #thisplacematters #demolitionbyneglect #demolitionisnottheanswer #historicpreservation #historicpreservationmatters #someplacenotanyplace #blackhistorymonth #blackhistory #southjersey #portnorris #commercialtownship #mauriceriver #cumberlandcounty
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There are so many evocative photos of this church. Here's photographer Francesca Frank posting this week on Facebook:

The loss of any church is a loss to New Jersey, but this one is particularly sad.

I post photos of churches from around the state every Sunday at @foundinnj, and several of the sites I've visited are currently for sale (the New Jersey Jesus Baptist Church in Garfield and the Alpine Community Church).

When I heard that the Friends of Waterloo Village had disbanded at year-end 2019, I feared for the United Methodist Church there too. But then I was happy to learn that this church is not only still holding services every Sunday morning at 10, it is also sponsoring Feed Fest 2020 on Sunday, Feb. 9 -- a family-friendly party to help feed those in need.


I was also happy to learn this week about "Saved or Lost Forever," a documentary by Preservation New Jersey, scheduled to premiere at a March 4 fund-raiser at Newark Symphony Hall.

Below is a video preview (with event information here):

As a recent story in The Record notes, one of the sites mentioned in this video -- Camden High School's "Castle on the Hill" -- has already been leveled.

Another story in The Record describes how protections for Liberty State Park have failed amid a billionaire's push to expand a golf course into the wetlands.

These too were/are sacred places. They deserve to be cherished and protected.

I am grateful to Perservation New Jersey for their good work, and to all the photographers, artists and neighbors who capture and preserve the beauty and history of our home.

And yet I am horrified by this last photo of the A.M.E church in Bivalve...

Photo: @tkportnorris on Instagram


Here's a hopeful postscript to this post, based on a 1/22/20 article in The Record:

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Epiphany in Paterson, 2020 Update

Last year, I posted here about a visit to a small church in Paterson, NJ, on Epiphany Sunday.

I returned there today, and posted an update on Instagram (see below).

Spoiler alert: there’s a happy and hopeful ending.

This is the altar at St. Bonaventure’s in Paterson, appropriately aglow on the Festival of Lights, #Epiphany Sunday. Today I took Mom there to hear the Chopin Society Male Choir on its 25th annual visit to sing #Polish Christmas carols during Mass. Mom happily sang along. She will be 88 later this month, and grew up in a Polish-speaking household in Garfield NJ. It was a morning of light and nostalgia and hope for the future. The pastor happily announced that this past Friday he had received word from the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Name Province that the parish would not be closing its doors. The friars, dwindling in numbers, are lately forced to give up some ministries. St. Bonaventure’s has served #Paterson since 1878. Fr. Daniel said that in 2020 the parish would redouble its efforts in the community, particularly in serving the poor. I wrote about my visit here last year too. You can read that at the temporary link in my Instagram bio. #njchurcheverysunday ⛪️
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