Union County used to be unknown territory for me. Aside from an occasional drive down Route 22 or maybe to Exit 135 off the Garden State Parkway to head to the Barnes & Noble in Clark, it was normally bypassed when heading anywhere else.
However, writing for Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch, dining at Bistro 1051 and Molly Maguire’s in Clark and Chez Catherine in Westfield, attending Saturday evening Mass at Church of Saint Helen in Westfield, viewing original art at Tomasulo Art Gallery at Union County College in Cranford,and yes, visiting B&N in Clark, kind of changed all that.
I’m not now, nor will I ever be, a Union County expert. But the good thing is you don’t have to be to love these communities, most of the streets quiet and tree lined. Union County, like the Garden State’s other 20 counties, played a significant part in the history not only of our state, but also in United States history.
Consider, briefly, Front Street in Scotch Plains, which I discovered one day when conducting my own, private walking tour prior to an interview at (speaking of history) Stage House Inn. Home to the Osborn Cannonball House, the home was built in 1750 and was the sites of a few skirmishes during the Revolutionary War. As for the Stage House Inn, the original building was constructed in 1737, and the added barn area in 1790. The town is also host to John’s Meat Market, arguably the best meat market in the state, and often voted so by New Jersey Monthly Magazine.
There is indeed much to see and do in Union County. The key is to make plans to visit, rather than just driving by or through with a cold shoulder – intended or not.
Steve Sears is an independent writer based in Bloomfield. Visit his website and companion blog at www.SGSWrite.com