Sunday, July 9 Open House – Photos by Rick Kelly

Please join us on Sunday, July 9 to see photographs by our photographer and curator, Rick Kelly.  The museum will be open from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.  See Rick’s work, tour the museum and enjoy some light refreshments.  All are welcome!

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Sunday, June 11, 2017-Museum Open House-2:00 – 4:00

Enjoy an afternoon of music by pianist Henry Shapiro.  Tour the museum or just relax and enjoy the ambiance. Henry is now 96 years young. He began playing piano at age 5 and started  playing professionally at age 13.  By 16 he had his own big band and played at many dance clubs in Northern New Jersey and around Lake Hopatcong.  He studied jazz improvisation and music theory in NYC until his studies were interrupted by World War II. After serving in the South Pacific as a Captain in the Army Air Corp., he worked in his parents retail store in Dover before opening his own stores in Franklin and Sparta. He also continued  his music career on nights and weekends until moving to Florida over 30 years ago. He played in clubs and restaurants along the Florida Gulf coast until returning to Morris County three years ago.  He still performs regularly in various venues in Morris County, including the Upstream Grill in Jefferson Twp., next to the very spot where he first  played professionally 83 years ago. We  hope you can join us for a delightful afternoon.

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Returning the Museum House to it’s original Brick Facade

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The Museum house was in dire need of painting – with great discussion the Board of Trustees of the Historical Society decided to take the paint off and return the house to it’s original Brick Facade. This should be completed just in time for our Annual Tea!

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Our History

The Dover Area Historical Society had its origin on May 4, 1966 when Mr. Willy Penderson called a special meeting at town hall for any citizens interested in local history. Fifteen people were at the first meeting and from this nucleus the society was born. The society was incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization named the Dover Historical Association. The name was changed to the Dover Area Historical Society in 1967.

From the very beginning, a museum location would be a problem. Two different store front locations were tried in the downtown, but abandon a short time later. The Johnson Storage Building on East Blackwell Street, the second oldest building in Dover at the time, dating back to before the Civil War, was being considered when Dover General Hospital offered the Bonnieview Estate located next to the hospital.

The Bonnieview mansion was built in 1876 for Alpheus Beemer and his wife Margaret. Mr. Beemer established a silk mill and Hurd Park and was the founder of the Nation Union Bank of Dover. Upon his death, the widow sold the property to Edwin Ross in 1885, a descendant of Betsy Ross, designer of the American Flag.

In the early part of the 20th century, Bonnieview becamse the popular Pine Terrance Inn, a gracious country retreat visited by such notables as President Grover Cleveland, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and well known personalities of the day. With the onset of Prohibition, the estate was sold to Harry Schwarz who later sold it to Dover General Hospital.

The historical society moved into the mansion house on June 18, 1970 with a 10-year lease with the hospital. Just one year into the lease and after over $30,000 in repairs and renovations, the hospital terminated the agreement and ordered the building be vacated in three months. For the next 27-years, the historical society would remain homeless, hosting its montly meetings in various churches and meeting halls around town.

In 2004, the First Presbyterian Church of Dover was trying to decide the fate of the old doctor’s house, known as the “church house” at 55 W. Blackwell Street. Knowing the historical society had been actively seeking a museum, the church offered to site to the organization for a 25-year period provided the group pay for all expenses of operating the house and performed repairs and renovations bringing the house up to town standards.

Today, the historical society meets at the museum house the third Tuesday of each month. Anyone wishing to become a member or wants further information can call the society at 973-361-3525.

We are in the process of building our new website – please check back to see the progress.

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