If you are a Verona native of a certain age, you have probably sneaked onto the Kip’s Castle property at least once. Sure, you did. And you brought along your friends. And some, um, refreshments. You probably took an unauthorized stroll around the Huntington Hartford estate, too. Such are the rites of passage in a small town.
The Huntington Hartford, once home to an heir of the A&P fortune, went up in a blaze decades ago that lit up much of the east side of Verona. Kip’s, a magnificent piece of robber-baron architecture if there ever was one, went through some weird years in the hands of a Indian cult. But it was saved from being recycled into condos or McMansions by Essex County two years ago, and added to the county’s parklands.
And now, older and wiser, you may be looking to see Kip’s in a new light. Daylight. Essex County’s Parks Department will give you that chance this Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13, by including the castle in a tour of seven historical houses in our area, all decorated for the holidays. In addition to Kip’s, you can go through the Walther House at the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair, as well as that town’s Clark House, Israel and Nathaniel Crane houses, and that marvelous Victorian pile, the Evergreens. Tickets to visit these latter four houses, all properties of the Montclair Historical Society, are $5 and can be purchased at the Society’s headquarters at 108 Orange Road in Montclair. Use our map below to generate directions to these and all the houses.
Glenmont, Thomas Edison’s home in the Llewellyn Park neighborhood of West Orange, is also being decked out for the house tour, which gives you a chance to take the kids on a separate tour of the newly re-opened Thomas Edison Museum nearby. You’ll to need to stop at the main visitor’s desk at the Edison Museum complex to get a pass to enter Llewellen Park. All the houses will be open from noon to 4 p.m. each day.
One closing note: In October, Essex County featured Kip’s in a haunted house event. Which means that you Verona natives can, legitimately, tell everyone that those were ghosts that you saw.