Series to spotlight the Garden State’s iconic places
May 2, 2017 – NEWARK, NJ – NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, announced the launch of a new documentary series, Treasures of New Jersey. The series will pay homage to some of the Garden State’s most iconic places, from historic landmarks and cultural centers to popular destinations. The debut episode features one of New Jersey’s architectural jewels from the gilded age: the former estate known as Florham, now a Fairleigh Dickinson University campus in Morris County.
Treasures of New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson – Florham premieres Wednesday, May 10 at 8pm on NJTV. It will also air on THIRTEEN June 18 at 7:30pm (check local listings). Watch a preview here.
Florham’s Vanderbilt-Twombly estate was named for the multi-millionaire couple who built it in the 1890s: Florence Adele Vanderbilt, granddaughter of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, and her husband Hamilton Twombly. With more than 100 rooms, the 80,000 square-foot mansion was designed and furnished by the legendary firm of McKim, Mead and White (whose designs include New York’s Pennsylvania Station and the Boston Public Library). The estate grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the most famous landscape architect of the time (among his renowned projects: New York’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park).
Narrated by news personality and New Jersey native Jack Ford, the film tells the property’s history through archival photographs and film, university representatives and historical experts including Arthur T. Vanderbilt II, a distant cousin of the family and author of a history of the Vanderbilt descendants.
“We’re looking forward to Florham being the first of many places profiled in Treasures of New Jersey,” said NJTV General Manager John Servidio. “Those of us who live in the state know there are countless iconic places that can, and should, be celebrated.”
Treasures of New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson – Florham is a production of Public Media NJ, Inc. for WNET. John Servidio is Executive in Charge. Sally Garner is Executive Producer and Writer. Funding for this program was made possible by OpinionAmerica Group.
Through decades of family prosperity and tragedy, members of the Twombly family continued living at Florham until the mid-1950’s. It was then, in the wake of the passing of two of its principal members, the family chose to subdivide and sell the estate. Fairleigh Dickinson University, which had a campus in Rutherford, and had added another in Teaneck-Hackensack, decided to add a third campus. The University purchased the mansion and more than 100 acres surrounding it.
Since assuming ownership of the property, the University has worked to maintain the historic buildings, grounds and gardens, including the mansion itself. Now called Hennessy Hall, the mansion houses classrooms and offices featuring marble fireplaces imported from Europe, a sweeping staircase to the family’s rooms and other remarkable relics of the gilded age.
“The Gilded Age in New Jersey was a reflection really of the great wealth that was concentrated in New York and Boston and other great eastern cities,” comments Peter Woolley, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus Provost, in the documentary. “And it was really a reflection of the geographical proximity to those great concentrations of wealth and of course productivity.But, of course those gilded age people were not just the one percent they were the one-percent of one- percent.”
Treasures of New Jersey follows in the footsteps of the popular local series, Treasures of New York, produced by WNET affiliate WLIW. That series, which premiered in 2011, has profiled over 30 institutions across New York.