Metuchen to revisit days of yore

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — The public is invited to take a peek into history as the borough goes back in time for a day.

The Metuchen-Edison Historical Society is set to host its annual Local History Day from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the community meeting room of the Metuchen Public Library, 480 Middlesex Ave., Metuchen.

“The great thing about Local History Day is that it is the one day a year where we get to bring out our thousands of photographs for the public to come and look at them without having to make an appointment to do so,” Steve Reuter, president of the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society, said.

Local History Day features a vast array of items from the archives of Lloyd Grimstead, an amateur photographer who took thousands of photos of historic places in Metuchen in the 1930s. Many of the photo albums have recently been re-organized, indexed and annotated.

The collection also includes ephemera, documents, gravestone rubbings and original displays.

This year, the society will highlight several of its recent acquisitions, including a set of tiles by ceramic artist Charles Volkmar, who had ties to Metuchen.

“We also feature many of the items in our collection,” Reuter said. “This year, the focus will be on new things we have acquired, such as a collection of items that belonged to the late internationally renowned poet, John Ciardi, that his daughter Myra donated to us last year. The national Library of Congress has the other half of his collection, so it was quite an honor to receive these items. Mr. Ciardi lived in Metuchen for several years.”

Historian and author Linda J. Barth will be on hand to sell and sign copies of her recent book, “A History of Inventing in New Jersey: From Thomas Edison to the Ice Cream Cone,” as well as her other history related publications, “Hidden New Jersey,” “Remembering Somerville” and others.

The historical society’s most recent project, “Nannygoats, The First Decade,” will also be available for sale, as will the new Colonial Cemetery T-shirts.

“One of the best parts of the day, in my opinion, is when a new resident or someone who may have been unaware of the society discovers we have a picture of the home they live in,” Reuter said. “Usually, it will be one of the photos taken in the 1930s that Lloyd Grimstead took. Residents can order a copy of any of our photos.”

Borough Council President Jay Muldoon could vouch for that. He and his wife ordered and framed a photo of their home at a previous event, he said.

“It’s a great way for residents to learn more about their town,” Muldoon said. “And if you happen to live in a house in Metuchen that dates from the 1930s or earlier, you will likely be able to find a historic photo of your house from the Grimstead collection. … It’s kind of cool to see what your house looked like in 1929 or whenever it was built.”

Local History Day is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 732-713-9080.