Friday, April 10, 2020
APRIL 10, 2020 -- NEW YORK CITY -- Craig Gilbert, a writer and director of documentaries, has died at the age of 94 in New York City. Among Mr. Gilbert’s documentaries are: Margaret Mead’s New Guinea Journal, The Triumph of Christy Brown, and the controversial and highly regarded An American Family, each for PBS.
Mr. Gilbert died of natural causes after a brief illness, a spokeswoman announced. Mr. Gilbert was raised in New York City and Woodmere, Long Island. He attended Phillips Academy and Harvard University. He served in the Red Cross Field Service during World War Two. Among the first to arrive at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the Spring of 1945, Mr. Gilbert said it was a moment which had stayed with him every day since.
The late James Gandolfini portrayed Mr. Gilbert in the 2011 HBO film, Cinema Verite, which dramatized the making of An American Family. He bristled whenever he would hear or read that An American Family was the first reality show: “No, no, no! Not a chance.”
Most recently, Mr. Gilbert had served as executive producer for Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen, and the yet-to-be-released documentary, Elmore Leonard: But Don’t Try To Write.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Idylease: It’s Role in Tourism at the Turn of the Century in West Milford, NJ. A Multimedia Presentation at The West Milford Township Public Library on March 12, 2020 at 7PM
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many resorts opened in the township and railroads brought wealthy vacationers from New York City to enjoy the countryside. The transportation revolution of the mid 1920’s, caused tourism to decline in this part of New Jersey, with other, more distant locations rising in popularity. Around the turn of the century, the City of Newark, NJ systematically acquired large parcels of land until it owned close to a third of West Milford. The City’s Master Plan called for the razing of buildings that were on the watershed preserve, including most of the hotels and resorts. It was their goal to ensure there would be no development or contamination of the many reservoirs in the area that supply the drinking water for resident of the city.
Of all the hotels that once graced the region, only one, the resort hotel know as Idylease remains standing as proof of a once thriving tourism industry. Opened on New Years’s Day in 1903, Idylease thrived during the Ragtime Era. The inn was a short trip from the Newfoundland Train station on the way to tourist-filled Greenwood Lake. Promoted as a health retreat, it sits amid pastoral country in the foot hills of the Kittatinny Mountains in the Highlands Region of NJ.
Idylease, with its prominent central gable, was opened in 1902 by Brooklyn doctor Edgar Arthur Day who billed the Inn as “a modern health resort, delightful in autumn.” Visitors described it as a “haven of rest” whose “masseuses are among the best in the country” and where fine meals were served in the 46 room hotel’s main dining room. Idylease attracted a variety of prominent guests, including Thomas Edison. Based in West Orange, Edison opened a self-named mine near Sussex County’s Franklin-Ogdensburg mining district in 1889. When making the trip across North Jersey, Idylease marked the half-way point to the mine from his lab in the Oranges. Edison would have his car serviced at a local garage and spend the night at Idylease before continuing onto the mine the following morning. His plan was to harvest a previously overlooked pocket of lower-quality ore on Sparta Mountain, break up the rock on conveyor belts and suck out the iron with electromagnets.
Other noted guests include: Joseph French Johnson, Dean of New York University’s School of Commerce, who hoped to salve his ill health but died there on January 19, 1925. Sports writer William B. Hanna, Civil War correspondent David Banks Sickels, and Grace Abbott, the head of the United States Children’s Bureau from 1921 to 1934. The Inn’s guestbook reveals the names of famous politicians, including New Jersey’s first female congresswoman, Mary T. Norton.
A tourists account of his visit to West Milford was recorded by E. Hewitt, an English traveler from London in 1819. It tells of his visit to Brown’s Hotel, two years after its completion:
“This afternoon, completely drenched with rain, we stayed at a tavern newly erected, in a village called Newfoundland. Here we procured a small private room and a good fire, dried our clothes, and got tea very comfortably. Our landlord, a very intelligent man, spent the evening with us, and related several interesting anecdotes of General Washington, with whom he was personally acquainted. I observed he was always addressed with the title of Squire, being a magistrate.
Bears, deer, and wolves are very numerous in this neighborhood in the fall. A barn not exceeding 60 feet by 30 costs here about $125.00; shingles or wood tiles,15 to 20 dollars per thousand. The whip-poor-will we heard for the first time at this place, repeating its plaintive notes through the whole night.
Our accommodations at this place were very comfortable. and our charge, including hay, one peck of Indian corn, our room, fuel, liquor, one pound of butter, what milk we chose and tar and tallow for our wagon, three quarters of a dollar. I gave our kind host one dollar, which he accepted with reluctance; and at our setting off, he prepared us a quantity of egg-nog, a mixture of apple spirits, eggs and milk. Terrible roads still, and the bridges over the small streams nothing more than poles laid across”.
Although many brave tourists did access the the natural resources of West Milford by coach, by the turn of the century, the railroad became the preferred method to frequent the many resorts that adorned the area. Destinations such as Brown’s Hotel, Idylease, The Hotel Bel Air and the Green Pond Hotel catered to the burgeoning tourists that flocked to the area for its scenic beauty and healthy climate. The 1920’s also marked the height of passenger service provided by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway to the Newfoundland Station. Thirteen passenger trains in each direction stopped at Newfoundland Station on a daily basis. The Great depression struck in October 1929 and lasted well into the late 1930’s and the growth of tourism began to decline. In 1937, the NYS&W declared bankruptcy and shortly thereafter was spun off from its parent, the Erie Railroad, which had controlled it since 1898. Also, the mass production of the automobile by Henry Ford in the 1930s rendered the passenger railroad obsolete, making more distant locales such as the Poconos and the Adirondack accessible by car. Passenger service ceased completely by 1966.
The great lawns at the Idylease, once a place where bonneted ladies and jacketed gentlemen relaxed and played croquet, now serves as a landing pad for medivac helicopters under the supervision of the West Milford Office of Emergency Management. Idylease was the first property named on West Milford Township’s list of historic sites, and the last of more than a dozen similar facilities that stood in town during the tourism heyday of the early-20th century.
Idylease was initially advertised in 1908 as a modern health resort, offering “All Forms of Hydro-Therapy and Massage.” Idylease was a “quiet, homelike place for Semi-Invalids, Convalescents, Neurasthenics, and Mild Cases of Cardiac, Nephritic and Stomachic Troubles, and for those desiring change of environment. No Tubercular or Objectionable Cases.” The resident physician and superintendent from 1906 until 1943 was Dr. D.E. Drake. A brochure published in about 1930 stressed the round-the-clock availability of staff physicians, Norwegian-trained massage therapists, and the “most approved scientific apparatus for administering baths, sprays, and douches.” Potential guests, in the accepted social order of the day, were reassured by the policy boldly stated on the first page of the brochure: “Hebrew Patronage Not Solicited.”
By 1940, Drake conceded to accept guests suffering from Tuberculosis. With this change, Idylease would established itself as one of the most prominent Tubercular Sanitoriums on the East Coast. With the subsequent development of the TB vaccine around 1927, Dr Drake treated patient that had already been infected prior to the vaccine. Throughout the 1940s the number of tubercular patients slowly began to decline and Idylease would face an uncertain future.
Dr. Drake would shutter Idylease in 1943 and he would pass away in 1951. Idylease would sit vacant for a period of thirteen years with the windows boarded up and its plumbing shattered.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Watch News 12 New Jersey Interview with Richard Zampella on Idylease in West Milford, NJ and its bid to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places with the Department of Interior in Washington, DC. Idylease, a turn-of-the-century health resort counted inventor Thomas Edison among its famous guests and is in the process of making its bid for the National Register.
Friday, August 23, 2019
Idylease: West Milford's 1903 Inn, Where Thomas Edison was a Guest, Seeks Historic Listing on National Register of Historic Places.
WEST MILFORD — (August 22, 2019) Idylease Inn, a turn-of-the-century health resort that counted inventor Thomas Edison among its famous guests, may soon make its bid for the National Register of Historic Places.
The inn, the first property named on the town’s list of historic sites, is a five-floor Dutch Colonial hotel and the last of more than a dozen similar facilities that stood in town during the tourism heyday of the early-20th century. Its guestbook contains the names of many famous visitors, including New Jersey’s first female congresswoman, Mary Norton.
“It has a tremendous history,” said Richard Zampella, the property owner. “There used to be dozens of these resort hotels around northern New Jersey, nearly all of them were lost to fire or neglect.”
Opened in 1903, Idylease thrived in the Ragtime Era. The inn was a short trip from the Newfoundland Train station on the way to tourist-filled Greenwood Lake. Promoted as a health retreat, it sat amid pastoral country on the hilly border of New Jersey’s iron belt.
Its location is what drew Edison.
Then based in West Orange, Edison opened a self-named mine near Sussex County’s Franklin-Ogdensburg mining district in 1889. His plan was to harvest a previously overlooked pocket of lower quality ore on Sparta Mountain, break the rock up on conveyor belts and suck out the iron with electromagnets.
Plagued by problems with the machinery and undercut by the discovery of the massive Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota, the mine closed a decade later. Perhaps as it was for the phonograph, which Edison thought would be better used for stenography than playing music, he may have misjudged the best use for his mining innovations.
Edison later applied his rock-crushing technology to aid in the creation of the durable cement used in the original Yankee Stadium and help the New Jersey Zinc Company process minerals at Sterling Mine in Ogdensburg.
When making the trip across North Jersey, Edison spent nights at Idylease, the inn's guest logs show. The Newfoundland area was a favorite of Edison’s, Zampella noted. Scenes from 1903’s "The Great Train Robbery" were filmed nearby, including at Echo Lake.
The main entry at Idylease Inn on Union Valley Road in West Milford features a dual staircase made of local oak. The inn's former owner, Arthur Zampella, wanted to relocate the staircase when he considered demolishing the inn in the late 1980s.
Idylease, named for Alfred Tennyson’s epic poem of King Arthur of Camelot, “Idylls of the King,” was built in 1902 by local carpenters lured by newspaper ads offering $2.50 for a nine-hour shift. Designed by John Boylston of John B. Snook & Sons, the inn gained prestige early on for its design and amenities. It was billed in June 1903 by The Montclair Times as “a hostelry of which New Jersey may well be proud.”
More than a place to stay, Idylease was a place to renew.
|See photo Gallery at northjersey.com|
Among the early visitors was H. Montague Vickers, a prominent member of the New York Stock Exchange. A guest in 1906, Vickers later sat on the board of directors for Rahway Valley Railroad and purchased his own farm in the Newfoundland section.
Idylease was known for its expansive open-air veranda, marble hydrotherapy pools and ability to entrench guests in purportedly therapeutic wilderness. The self-sustaining sanitarium had its own ice house, blacksmith shop and farm complex.
The township’s Historic Preservation Commission named Idylease, the Newark watershed’s New City and the Town Hall Annex the first three properties on its list of local historic landmarks in 1988. Only 10 more historic sites have since been named to the local list, records show. Only one, Long Pond Ironworks, is on the national register.
Zampella said he believes the inn is deserving of the designation, due to its architecture, guests and contribution to American history, and plans to soon file an application with the federal government.
The 53-year-old film and multimedia producer who also works in the hospitality industry has been blogging about the site’s history since April 2016. He has collected old records and photos, including the guest books that he said have been eye-opening.
Guests included sports writer William B. Hanna, Civil War correspondent David Banks Sickels, and Grace Abbott, the head of the United States Children's Bureau from 1921 to 1934.
Towards the end of the age of the area’s railroad-driven tourism in the late 1920s, Idylease welcomed Victor Harrison-Berlitz, who managed 410 of the Berlitz Corporation’s language centers, Joseph French Johnson, the founding dean of the Alexander Hamilton Institute, and Congresswoman Norton, the sixth woman in the United States Congress but the first to hail from the East and win as a Democrat.
Richard Zampella’s knowledge of the site goes beyond his recent findings, having grown up on the grounds. His father, Dr. Arthur Zampella, owned the property for nearly 40 years starting in 1954. Since Zampella acquired the property in 2016, he said he has been attempting to complete the site's history.
“Researching the history of Idylease has been a lifelong endeavor,” he said.
When Zampella was young, and the tourism boom that established North Jersey’s lake communities was long over, his father operated the inn as a nursing home until 1972. His father's vision was to create a community clinic with a nearby research center and senior village.
Proposed in 1962, the medical complex concept became known as Lakecrest General Hospital. There were multiple attempts by various groups to raise funds and obtain state certification. In 1976, voters approved a township-led project via non-binding referendum. Lakecrest
Zampella's father continued to chase his dream and by 1986 had joined with developers to pitch a $110 million long-term care center with residential cottages and on-site services.
By 1987, Idylease was slated for demolition. In response, elected officials established the township's Historic Preservation Commission later that year. Its members moved in 1988 to have the home designated as historic and preserved from unapproved alterations. Issues that year at the local planning and zoning board later doomed the overarching effort.
The site today still operates as a boarding house for long-term occupants. Period furnishings adorn the rooms and guests have use of the large country kitchen and other common spaces in a congregate living setup.
Mostly preserved as it was designed, Zampella said it makes sense to use the inn to provide people a place to stay. Monthly rentals start at $800, including utilities, for rooms with basic furnishings and a half-bath.
“It really is a magical place,” he said. “The Newfoundland area and West Milford have such a rich history and Idylease stands as a daily reminder.”
This article originally appeared in north jersey.com at: https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/passaic/west-milford/2019/08/22/west-milfords-1903-inn-where-thomas-edison-was-a-guest-seeks-historic-listing/2064469001/
Sunday, July 28, 2019
|Transmultimedia: West Milford, NJ|
Sunday, July 7, 2019
April of 2019 marked the three year anniversary since Richard Zampella assumed management of Idylease: A Historic Landmark in Newfoundland, NJ. He produced this 3 minute retrospective from media created for the Inns Facebook page. http://www.idylease.org #idylease #historic #landmark #westmilford
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
|Idylease Helistop is Located in the Newfoundland Section of West Milford, NJ|
Warner Brothers contacted local physician Dr. Arthur Zampella and together, application was made to the Federal Aviation Administration for a heliport at Idylease. In the off possibility of a snake bite, the handler would be transported to Idylease and then flown by air to a trauma center where he would be treated by alternative methods.
The Idylease Helistop is a remnant of Jungle Habitat from 40 years ago and still maintains the FAA license. The heliport is currently used by the NJ State Police if major accidents occur in the area. Patients are transported to Idylease and flown to the nearest trauma center from the landing field.
For more information visit the Idylease Helistop Website at: http://njhelistop.com