Well, with only a few minor details left, the work on the Tavern Yard side of our exterior is completed! It’s been a long road, but we’re almost there – only one side left to go! Take a look at the comparison below. And see it in person at one of our upcoming events!
As 2021 draws to a close, I wanted to take a few moments during this busy season to send a brief update to all of our members, both to recap some of the past year’s highlights at the Merchants and Drovers, and to share some of what we have planned for 2022 and beyond.
As COVID-related restrictions have slowly been lifted, the museum has been able to pick up some of the initiatives that had to be temporarily set aside last year. Thanks to funding from the New Jersey Historic Trust and the Union County Board of County Commissioners “Preserve Union County Fund,” as well as the generous support of members like you, the preservation work on the tavern yard façade and kitchen wing of our main building is now almost complete. With another grant from the “Preserve Union County Fund” already in hand, we hope to be able to continue this momentum and finish the exterior preservation work within the next two years. Similarly, the research for our planned “Rahway Girl Scout House” exhibit, which was delayed last year due to the closure of necessary archives, will be complete by the end of December. Next year, we will begin raising the funds to install the first new permanent exhibit at the Merchants in almost 20 years, which we hope to have ready to open to the public in 2023.
In addition to the steady progress we are making on the preservation and interpretation of the main building, 2021 also saw the introduction of some exciting new programs. This summer we debuted of our first outdoor Tavern Nights with music and refreshments by firelight in the Tavern Yard. Going forward, we hope to be able to host Tavern Nights on a quarterly basis. In November, we offered our first walking tour of Downtown Rahway. We are particularly excited about this initiative as it brings us out into the community, and we hope to offer more of these tours, each focused on different topics and neighborhoods, in the coming year.
None of this would have been possible without your engagement, and the Merchants can continue to move forward with these important developments only as far and as fast as the support from our membership allows. I hope that you will remember the Merchants and Drovers in your end-of-year charitable giving. Every dollar of support is vitally important, not only to preserving our historic structures, but also to our expanding focus of keeping Rahway’s diverse and fascinating history alive and sharing it with the world. If you prefer to give on-line rather than by mail, you may do so by visiting our website at www.merchantsanddrovers.org.
On the behalf of the Board and Staff of the Merchants and Drovers Tavern Museum, I want to offer my most sincere appreciation for all your past support of our site and its programs, and my very warmest wishes for a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season.
Forward into 2022!
Richard A. Zdan
President, Board of Trustees
This year’s Ghosts of the Past Cemetery Tour program honoring first responders throughout Rahway’s history was a huge success! Almost 200 guests attended the event, with 17 groups travelling through the cemetery on a beautiful autumn day to hear the stories of local Ghosts including doctors, nurses, volunteers, police, first aid, and firefighters. And we owe so much of the success of this event to the dozens of volunteers who helped make it possible.
Special thanks go out to all of our Ghosts, especially to Darius Singletary and Brigitte Penaranda from the Rahway Police Department, and Kasmer Kaminski and Jeremy Polite from the Rahway Fire Department, who each represented their predecessors in uniform.
Thanks to this year’s cast of Ghosts:
- Dr. Walter Cladek
- Dr. Fred Albee
- Patrolman Alberty Jewel
- Red Cross Volunteer Gladys Whitehead
- Firemen Tribute
- Chief Tooker
- 1929 Ambulance/First Aid
- WW1 Motor Corps Driver
- Rahway Police Tribute
- Civil War Nurse Anna Vohah
- Rick Zdan
- Kevin O’Brien
- Darius Singletary
- Victoria Tonstad
- Kasmer Kaminski & Jeremy Polite
- Alex Shipley
- Derron Palmer
- Annette St. John Satkowski
- Brigitte Peneranda
- Lisa Michalowski
In addition to the Ghosts, we also deeply appreciate the help of our Board members and volunteers who ran the check-in table, manned the gift-sale and thrift tables, sold raffle tickets, and helped chaperone groups through the cemetery.
With 2021’s tour now behind us, we’re already looking forward to 2022, when we will once again invite the Ghosts associated with the story of the Unknown Woman of Rahway to recount their experiences with the biggest murder mystery in Rahway’s history. Perhaps we’ll see you in the cemetery again next year!
Thanks to Derron Palmer and Chris Tonstad for the pictures below!