70 Berkeley Avenue, Newark. Photo courtesy of the Forest Hill Community Association.
In the past few years, Newark residents have put a lot of effort into sharing the history of buildings in the state’s largest city. From the Newark Walks signs that can now be found throughout downtown Newark and its adjoining neighborhoods to the Newark Landmark Treasures book, learning about the city’s past has become easier for Newarkers and visitors alike.
Now, residents of the Forest Hill community in the North Ward are working together to bring the history of homes in the area to the public.
The Forest Hill Community Association (FHCA) has worked with the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee (NPLC) and the Newark Public Library to put historical plaques outside of homes across the neighborhood. The signs, which cost $ 150 each, typically highlight the architecture of each home and the notable previous occupants.
Plaque describing the history of 70 Berkeley Ave in Newark. Photo courtesy of the Forest Hill Community Association.
“The aim of the plaque program is to highlight the rich history of the Forest Hill Historic District,” stated FHCA President Paul Agostini in a statement. “Citizens, civil servants, corporate titans, artists and intellectuals have been building and living in these architectural gems in this historic district for over 100 years. The plaque initiative helps the public understand their stories. “
The signage project was initiated a few years ago, but has recently attracted additional interest from residents, according to the FHCA. The association reports that 15 plaques have already been installed, while another 33 could be placed on homes by the end of the year. In 2021, the program is expected to expand to four local churches and could possibly include a virtual tour.
“We are excited to partner with the FHCA in one of the state’s largest historic neighborhoods, the Forest Hill Historic District,” said Liz Del Tufo, president of the NPLC. “It’s a neighborhood pride program and a program to educate the public about Newark’s great history.”
This project comes as the Ballantine Gates between Essex County’s Forest Hill and Branch Brook Park undergoes renovation. Forest Hill is east of the park and has long been one of the most expensive communities in Newark. Housing costs there tend to be cheaper than in similar suburbs like Maplewood, Glen Ridge, and South Orange, however.