Ellen recently enjoyed a family vacation on the east coast, and took the opportunity to learn more about the history and architecture of New Jersey and New York.

Courtesy of the Chester Historical Society

Interior of the Cooper Gristmill

First stop was the Cooper Gristmill in Chester, New Jersey. Built in 1826, the restored building is one of the only extant water-powered mills in the state. A volunteer demonstrated the mill’s interior workings, including the massive water wheel.

Next stop was Waterloo Village in New Jersey. Built as a canal village, it is now a protected historical park, with a working smithy, a gristmill, and other interpretive centers that illustrate daily life in 1872.

The Finger Lakes region of New York was next, with two particularly interesting sites. The first was the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion in Canandaigua. The house was the country home of wealthy banker Frederick Ferris Thompson and his wife, Mary Clark Thompson. It was designed by prominent New York City architect Francis Richmond Allen. Even more famous than the house are the restored gardens, which were designed by landscape architect Ernest W. Bowditch.

The second site in the Finger Lakes area was the Seneca Bark Longhouse and Seneca Art & Cultural Center in Ganondagan, two sites that form an interpreted landscape exploring the culture and history of the Seneca and Haudenosaunee peoples and the village of Ganondagan. The longhouse has been faithfully reproduced from archaeological evidence dating back to the seventeenth century. The Seneca Art & Cultural Center opened in 2015 with an award-winning design by Francois de Menil in conjunction with DeWolff Partnership architects.

Canal workers’ housing, Waterloo Village, New Jersey (soon to be restored)

Smithy at Waterloo Village, New Jersey

Mill at Waterloo Village, New Jersey

Waterloo Village, New Jersey

Sonnenberg Mansion, Canandaigua, New York

Sonnenberg Italian garden, Canandaigua, New York

Seneca Bark Longhouse, Ganondagan, New York

Seneca Art & Cultural Center at Ganondagan. Designed by Francois de Menil, AIA, in conjunction with DeWolff Partnership Architects, 2015.