Essex County Historic Holiday Home Tour is scheduled for December 4-5

The Crane House table is set for the holidays. (COURTESY OF THE MONTCLAIR HISTORY CENTER)

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After a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Essex County Historic Holiday House Tour, which draws hundreds of visitors in early December to historic sites decorated for the holidays, is back. Most of the houses are free to visit.

The tour will be available on Saturday December 4 and Sunday December 5. Each site will offer something unique, including musical entertainment, refreshments or educational programs.

This year, a castle, a beer baron’s mansion, two farms, Grover Cleveland’s birthplace and Bloomfield’s oldest funeral home are on view.

“The Holiday House Tour is a great example of organizations across the county pooling their resources to create a wonderful event that families can enjoy and to provide a glimpse into how the holidays have been celebrated.” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. noted. “Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city in December and visit the local homes and monuments that will have decorated the rooms with a holiday extravaganza for a spectacular weekend.”

Kipp Castle is decorated for the holidays. (ESSEX COUNTY COURTESY)
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Kip Castle at 22 Crestmont Road in Verona belonged to a silk baron Paterson and exemplifies the opulence of the Victorian period. Tours are free from noon to 4 p.m. on both days.

The Canfield-Morgan House at 903 Pompton Ave. in Cedar Grove and the Zenas Crane Homestead at 289 Westville Ave. in West Caldwell reflect life on a farm in New Jersey’s early years. Admission to both is free; donations are accepted. Canfield-Morgan House is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, and Crane Homestead is open from noon to 4 p.m. on both days

Grover Cleveland Birthplace at 207 Bloomfield Ave. in Caldwell presents New Jersey’s position in American history by presenting the life of Cleveland before he became the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. There is a limit of six visitors every 20 to 30 minutes. Free entry. From 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on both days.

Kingsland Manor at 3 Kingsland St. in Nutley was built by Joseph Kingsland and his wife, Mary Outwater, in the 1700s and was later owned by “Diamond Dan”, a boxing trainer and promoter who trained his boxers on the grounds of the Manor . It is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on both days; free.

Last year, the Montclair History Center ”The Crane House and Historic YWCA holiday decoration was honored as the top pick in the Northeast and fourth nationally in the USA Today Readers’ Choice Top 10 Awards.

Each year, the Montclair Garden Club dresses the halls of the Crane House and the YWCA.

The house was built in 1796 by a founding family who lived there for 100 years. The YWCA took over the house in 1920 to make it a home for African American women seeking to settle in the area.

The decorations created by club members reflect these two periods of ownership. Some rooms feature what would have been used in the late 1700s: fresh fruits such as cranberries, apples, pineapples, and lemons (exotic in the 1700s) and green vegetables such as boxwood and evergreens.

Other pieces reflect the early 1900s, when young African American women celebrated vacations away from their families. The trees are decorated with bright bubbles and modern plastic ornaments. Admission is free, the two houses being open both days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Walther House located at 474 Upper Mountain Avenue in Upper Montclair was once the home of Barbara Walther, who was instrumental in establishing the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. The house will be open on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. with free admission.

Guided tours are also open Van Tassel Funeral Home in Bloomfield, at 337, avenue Belleville, and The Ballantine House at the Newark Museum, 49 Washington St. Bloomfield’s oldest funeral home was established in 1883 and is free to visit on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Ballantine House, built in 1885 for Jeannette and John Holme Ballantine of the Newark ale-brewing family, is a lavish Victorian mansion. It is open both days from noon to 5 p.m. $ 15 adults; $ 8 children, seniors and students on presentation of an identity document.

For more information: 973-268-3500 or

The list of houses

Kip Castle Park in Essex County
22 Crestmont Road, Verona
Free entry. Open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Walther House at Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
474 Upper Mountain Avenue, Upper Montclair
Free entry. Open Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Ballantine House at the Newark Museum
49 Washington Street, Newark
Admission is $ 15 adults; $ 8 for children, seniors and students with a valid ID Open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Canfield-Morgan House and Museum
903 Pompton Ave, Cedar Grove
Admission is free, donations are accepted. Open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Crane farm
289 Westville Avenue, Caldwell West
Free entry. Open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Grover Cleveland’s Birthplace
207 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell
There is a limit of six visitors every 20 to 30 minutes. Free entry. Open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Kingsland Manor
3 Kingsland Street, Nutley
Free entry. Open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Montclair Historical Society Properties: Crane House and Historic YWCA
110 Orange Road, Montclair
Free entry. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Van Tassel Funeral Home
337, avenue Belleville, Bloomfield
Free entry. Open Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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