At Sunday's Hillside Avenue house tour sponsored by the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society, guests were treated to history of the area and the connections of the past. During a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Hillside house and its original owners, they also got to see rare photos of the mansion that later became enveloped by the Chanticler.
One of the original owners of the Hillside Avenue home, Wilbur F. Denman, was an avid amateur photographer and a many of his print photos and film and glass negatives were donated to the historical society by Anne Gallitelli Smith and her brother Frank Gallitelli.
Among the images is a rare side view of the former mansion of mill owner Wellington Campbell. That mansion was eventually enveloped by the Chanticler restaurant/catering business. Since the mansion and business were demolished in April to make way for condos, there has been a renewed interest in the history of the place.
Neighbors and reporters took pictures of demolition (as those shown here taken by James A. O'Connell, who lives near the building.) The historical society attended the auction of the contents of the Chanticler, where they purchased a lot of the Chanticler's gilt restaurant china that was made between 1958 and 1973 and used at dinners at the building.
The plates have been an astonishingly popular souvenir, but some of the $5 and $2.50 plates are still available at the museum. For more information, call the museum at 973-564-9519 or visit the museum during open hours on Tuesday (1-3 p.m.), Wednesday (3:30-5:30 p.m.), Thursday (5:30-7:30 p.m.), or the first Sunday of the month (2-4 p.m.).
The auction provided an additional bonus for the historical society archives, as it enabled memorial photos to be taken in all parts of the building -- including the seldom-seen basement, kitchen, and attic (see photos attached to this article).
Many museum visitors, who went to the museum to buy plates, also brought photos and memorabilia from their visits to the Chanticler, whether as guests or hosts of an event there (see the 1944 wedding photo of the front of the building, a copy of which was donated by resident Bea Hoffman). The numerous photos taken by numerous photographers provide a valuable historical record of the building that loomed so large in Millburn's history.