I was going for a walk with a friend in Bloomfield, NJ, when I happened upon this somewhat unusual home on Watsessing Avenue not far from Bloomfield Avenue. It made me think of a mini castle, and it struck me as unusual because the round stone part looked like a separate (and older) structure than the house that was attached to it.
Then I noticed there was a "sister" house on the other side of the street (below left); the two turrets flanked the road, and they both had a newer addition that made up the fuller house area for each. This suggested to me that these turrets might have once been a former gated entrance, and as I walked down the street, I got a partial answer to my curiosity. A sign at the edge of the park explained that this was "Halcyon Park, Founded in 1895."
A little research allowed me to recreate a vintage view (below right) of the park entrance that shows the original gate houses, which is a nearly-matching view to my current-day photo.
So, what was "Halcyon Park" originally? According to the Bloomfield Public Library, the park was created as a real estate development that promised buyers "the life of a millionaire at a low price." You can learn more about the history of Halycon Park by checking out the Halcyon Park Wikipedia page here. Read on to better understand my reference to Monet ...
As I walked further into the park, the grounds (flanked by homes on both sides of the "parkway") led to a surprise: this small water lily pond (below left), which immediately made me think of a Claude Monet water lily painting. As an example, I've got Monet's "Water Lilies," 1922, pictured below right.
It was such a nice surprise, this quiet little oasis tucked into an otherwise busy neighborhood approximately 10 miles west of midtown Manhattan, where you can see other Monet Waterlilies at MoMA. I've lived in this general area for almost 20 years, and had no idea that Halcyon Park ever existed, let alone tucked into a little area not far from a Home Depot, a Staples, and other aspects of a busy suburban neighborhood.
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