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South Orange, New Jersey

The residential community of South Orange boasts authentic Colonial, Victorian, and Tudor homes. Its quiet streets are lined with gorgeous parks, gas lights, and an active village center.

Map Of South Orange, NJ

This town’s history traces back all the way to the year 1666. In May of that year, Connecticut settlers arrived on the Passaic River’s shores. The crew was guided by Lieut. Samuel Swain and Capt. Robert Street. They purchased land (which would eventually become Newark) the following July from the residing Lenni Lenape Indians.

Families who had dreams of farming relocated West towards South Orange, as well as some of the areas surrounding it. The settlers purchased another land parcel from the Lenapes in 1978. This one ran from the Rahway River’s East branch all the way to the top of the mountain.

The Indian Trail known as South Orange Ave. was the central thoroughfare. In 1705, though, road statutes forced landowners to take care of the initial primitive highways, which included Ridgewood and Valley Roads, as well as Main Street. Washington and the troops sometimes traversed the Ridgewood Road while the American Revolution was taking place.

The transportation mode transitioned from horseback to an oxcart and, eventually, a stagecoach. In 1836, one single track was developed by the Essex and Morris railroad that went between Orange and the village. A cart that was horse-drawn was operated. A year after, the line received an extension. Two carts could now be pulled directly by a steam locomotive that ran on burned wood. The railroad’s advents established the community of South Orange both as a unique summer resort and a Newark suburb. In 1868, the railroad expanded over to Hoboken. The village started transforming from a settlement of mills and farms to a residential railroad area of Newark and New York.

South Orange Train Station & Landmarks

Roads were built, gas lines got installed, and swamps got drained during the 1890s. It wasn’t long before running water and sewers were added. The center of the town saw streetlamps go up, which ran on sperm oil all the way until 1860 (the oil was phased out by gas services, which was now available). In 1888, the village was introduced to electric power, though a majority of streets continued to rely on gas lamps. By the end of 1879, the first-ever telephone exchange opened in South Orange. Twenty years later, a central office in the village was established.

South Orange’s transition to a residential community from farmlands can be attributed to one man’s vision – John Gorham Vose, an attorney in New York. Mesmerized by rich mountain views, Vose bought a property in 1858 on Scotland Rd. Four years later, he started to purchase large land plots in an effort to start the conversion. As construction got underway, many villagers began to migrate toward the homes being developed there. 175 acres were completed in just three years between Center Street and Scotland Road. The area was christened by Vose as “Montrose.” Other businessmen purchased farms, including Mayhew, Speir, Mead, Connett, Kingman, and Turrel. These individuals purchased farms and carved streets, helping to revolutionize the community’s face.

In 1894, the village built the community’s fire department, where it remained all the way until 1930 before it was relocated to First and Sloan streets. South Orange’s Police Department relocated from the 1872 building, which was on the railroad’s Westside, over towards the Village Hall, which had vacant space for them. In 1972, a municipal court and police station were constructed along South Orange Ave.

Directions to the Fire Department from the South Orange Train Station:

The very first American post office opened up in 1841, located at 71 South Orange Ave. (Freeman’s Store). However, receipts were so small, according to the postmaster, that suspension of the business ensued. Two years later, another office opened up to accommodate 30 nearby families. Six individual sites in total were used all the way until 1937. At that time, a post office opened into its own building on Vose Avenue. In 1899, free postal delivery began.

Directions to the Post Office from the Fire Department

The Stone House was built around 1680. It is the village’s oldest building and remains there today on South Orange Ave. (close to Grove Road). In 1774, Henry Squier built a colonial house on 167 North Ridgewood Rd. In 1850, William Redmond acquired the house after purchasing Squier’s farm. A dairyman known as Flood eventually leased the house and pasteurized his cows there. That house is now what is known as Middleman Park. The park has a place called Flood’s Hill, which was named after the family, and is used as a winter coasting site. A brownstone mansion was built by William Redmond as a residence, which is occupied by the South Orange Lawn Tennis Club today. Another landmark, which was constructed around 1830, was a place called the Mountain House. This trendy water cure was supervised by a couple of physicians until it was burned down in 1881. At the Mountain House, spring water was piped down into the mountains, which many found beneficial. A big wooden structure containing a pair of wings was built on Ridgewood Road’s spacious grounds, right at the end of Glenside Road. It became a hotel that accommodated approximately 150 guests. Lord and Taylor’s owner, Mr. Lord, leased the building to a man named G. Baird in 1850. In 1830, the Eclipse Stage Line began running between Newark and the hotel. These days, the only reminders of that resort are both the Mountain House Road and Mountain Station, both of which were developed to accommodate visitors.

South Orange remained connected to Newark up until 1806. What we currently call Maplewood, and the Oranges were initially called the Orange Township. Orange is a name that came into play during the 18th century’s second half. It was adopted by inhabitants around 1780. The actual “South Orange” name was initially printed in the Wood Gazzette’s newspaper advertisement in 1793. The name replaced older names like the Mountain Plantation and Chestnut Hill.

The village’s government has transitioned from a theocracy to a democracy. There were just a few house clusters in 1776. South Orange inhabited a gristmill, blacksmith shop, one tavern, and a couple of stores.

Residents of South Orange were united defending their country and home. In 1872, a peak of civil indifference was reached, as a mere 235 votes in total were cast during a presidential election. The population has increased steadily since then – in 1920, there were 7200 inhabitants in South Orange. Eight years later, the population expanded to 13,000 people. By 1995, more than 16,300 people resided in South Orange.

In 1861, the New Jersey legislature oversaw the creation of a South Orange Township, resulting in the Village Charter eight years later. In 1872, they were authorized to borrow money and levy taxes. In 1904, the total separation of the Township and village was impacted by state legislature action once South Orange agreed to stay within the educational district. In 1906, the 1869 Charter was printed, as were its variances, supplements, and amendments. By the end of 1977, voters in South Orange passed an all-new charter, officially changing the name to “Township of South Orange Village.”

Our office is located right in South Orange! Here’s directions from the Post Office.

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