Friday, July 15, 2011

Tracking Somerset Hills history as it occurs

Here is an update about our ongoing effort to provide digital images of the rich history of the Somerset Hills area including Bedminster and Far Hills. Last year we unveiled our collection on the New Jersey Digital Highway website at . There are presently over 600 digitized photos from our library's historical collection that have been uploaded and the work continues.

But this effort encompasses more than scanning and uploading our remaining photo albums. Because "history" continues to occur every day including the present, we also aim to capture images of the Somerset Hills area landmarks before they literally become history. Two prime examples of this are Willie's Taverne and Bedminster Township's old municipal building located on Hillside Avenue: the former undergoing remodeling for life as a new establishment and the other soon to be demolished.

When we received word of the transitions these structures would undergo, photos were taken of each building while they still stood in their present condition. In February, one of our library patron supporters volunteered to go to Willie's during it's final days of operation and took extensive photos of the interior and exterior of the building capturing views of how long time residents and customers will remember the popular restaurant. Then in June, after the township determined the need to demolish the long vacant building on Hillside Avenue, I got the go ahead to take photos of the building exterior.

The full sets of these images will be uploaded to the New Jersey Digital Highway collection at a later date but in the meantime, here are images of each building from past years alongside the 2011 images. (Click on each set of photos to see enlarged images) -- posted by Arthur Merchant, Technical Services.

At top are a 1945 postcard of the Bedminster Inn which would become Willie's Taverne and an image taken February 2011.

Below are an undated photo of the building on Hillside Avenue when it housed the Bedminster Township municipal offices (likely taken in the 1960s) and a photo of the main entrance taken on June 29, 2011.

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