When the dog days of summer hit and many of us
skinny down to our lightest and most comfortable clothing, I often
wonder, just how did those late 19th century Hackettstown men and women
deal with the heat? Can you imagine wearing a bathing suit that was
typically a black, woolen, puffed sleeve dress over bloomers,
accessorized with long black stockings?
Take a look a this group gathered for a picture at Sully's Grove in
August 1889, in their hats, proper layers of clothing, long sleeves and
restrictive corsets. I've got to stand in front of my air conditioner
just to look at them!
In the mid to late 19th century, many residents
stayed close to home in the summer months, visiting Budd Lake, Lake
Hopatcong and the springs at Schooley's Mountain. Schooley's Mountain
was home to one of America's famous resort spots for the wealthy and
fashionable from New York and Philadelphia. The Chalybeate springs drew
numerous visitors from the East to its hotels each summer.
David Crowell's Belmont Hall, renamed the Hotel
Dourincourt in 1899, was nestled on thirty-three acres
with croquet grounds, picnic groves, paths and ball courts. It did a
thriving business in the summer months. In 1868, at the close of the
Civil War, Heath House, under the proprietorship of J. Warren Coleman,
was enlarged to 150 rooms and continued to attract visitors for many
Sully's Grove was a 17 acre tract just over the
river in Morris County. For many years, it had been a favorite
summertime location for local residents to picnic and hold community
By the turn of the century, beaches and sea shore
resorts had become the favorite summer relaxation spot, and many of the
grand hotels on the mountain saw fewer and fewer visitors. After
bankruptcy in the early part of the 20th century, the Hotel Dorincourt
was closed and the buildings demolished in 1943. The Heath House met a
similar fate in 1910.
While it's sad to think that these grand old
buildings are lost except to history, and the simplicity of those
summers in the mountains are only stories we read about, it is nice to
know I'll never have to go to the beach in a woolen bathing suit.
Recognize These Picnic Goers?
This gathering at Sully's Grove is one of the many pictures at the
Hackettstown Historical Society Museum which is not completely
identified. Click here for a larger version of the
image and the identification chart. If you recognize one of your
ancestors, and can put a name to a face, please contact the Historical
Society. Your help in keeping our history alive for future
generations is greatly appreciated.