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South Orange/Maplewood — News

The Woodland, Formally The Woman's Club of Maplewood, Has Rich History

Mike Kylis

Thursday, July 10, 2014 • 4:41pm

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Woodland, formally The Woman's Club of Maplewood, has officially opened to the public. The elegant building with historic charm is located at 60 Woodland Road, just off of Maplewood's downtown strip, the building was purchased in last year by the Township for just over $1 million.  
 
The building will serve as a place for township events and be available for rental to the general public. During its decades as The Woman's Club, the building was home to concerts, theatrical performances, public recitals, town fairs, weddings, dances, civic meetings, lectures, fundraisers and other assemblies.
 
“We are thrilled that this important building with its rich and storied history will continue to serve as a hub for Maplewood’s vibrant cultural and civic life,” said Mayor Victor DeLuca in a statement.
 
However, your support is needed.
 
The goal is for the community to make enjoy and make use of The Woodland while the process of reorganizing takes place to restore the building to its former glory. There is need for extensive reconstruction in some parts of the building.
 
"We want to do everything we can to get the community involved with this building,' said Andrew Fishman, Maplewood's Cultural Affairs Coordinator. "We want it to become what it can become organically." 
 
Local philanthropic organization Rent Party will be moving their concert series there starting October 17, 2014. The show consists of local acts and helps raise money to fight hunger in the Maplewood/South Orange area.  
 
"We look forward to helping bring life back to this wonderful building and are excited about working with the area businesses. We feel that it's a perfect partnership," Rent Party's founder Chris Dickson said to TAP.
 
TAP recently took a tour of the building with Fishman. "This building has a lot of Maplewood history in it," he said. "It has tremendous potential for the community."  
 
The Great Hall takes up the north end of the building. Its span of sprawling hardwood floors and a 40 foot-high coffered barrel ceiling can accommodate more than 400 people.  It has been the home to many events, including a concert by the legendary blues man, Hubert Sumlin in 2009. 
 
Upstairs  the newly renovated parlor consists of a very large room that spans the entire building, and features the original crown molding  as well as fireplaces on each end, ideal for a reception or recital. The building's historic character would make any event more memorable. The second floor is similar but the rooms are somewhat larger and separated by a door. The space is ideal for theatre or art shows. 
 
The Township wants your help. How can this new public space be put to better use? Please send any ideas or suggestions to Cultural Affairs Coordinator, Andrew Fishman at afishman@twp.maplewood.nj.us.
 
[SIDEBAR]
 
A Piece of History
 
According to the Maplewood Historic Preservation Commission website, "The Maplewood Woman’s Club has played a vital role in Maplewood and beyond, from fundraising for student scholarships and activities, and the establishment of a community house and well-baby clinic, to raising money for a fighter plane during World War II. The organization’s birth and tremendous growth in membership occurred during Maplewood’s rapid development as a railroad suburb in the first half of the 20th century."
 
Past members of The Woman's Club include Harriet Stratemeyer Adams,  who wrote many books in the Nancy Drew series (under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene) and a few in the Hardy Boys series (under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon). She was a member in the 1920's and even started a literary magazine for the club.
 
 
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