Osceola Park in Cranford, NJ
Osceola Park comprises the area in the southern part of Cranford, on Munsee Drive and the small offshoot streets around Munsee. Residents’ children attend Hillside Avenue School for both elementary and middle school. It is a quiet neighborhood, set away from the business areas of town, not far from beautiful Mohawk Park, and very close to both Parkway and Raritan Road access.
The original subdivision was built on 32 out of the 200 acres owned by Tom Sperry, the very man who originally founded the infamous S&H Greenstamps that would become an icon of American culture. (Indian Village/Sunny Acres was built on the remainder of Sperry’s Estate.) Legend has it that Tom’s father, Peter Sperry, who hailed from Florida, landed himself in hand-to-hand combat with Native American Chief Osceola, who was so impressed with Sperry’s courage and spirit that the two men became friends. While the legend contends that Osceola Park was subsequently named in honor of this family friend, no one knows for sure if this true, and it’s doubtful if the real truth will ever be uncovered.
Developer Ben Smith planned 200 homes for the area, although only less than a quarter of that number was actually completed by him. In 1937, the brand new, mass produced Cape Cod homes were selling for $5,000-6,000, with less than $500 as a down payment. (Can you imagine? The down-payment of yesteryear is akin to no more than a family’s monthly food budget today!) The homes’ biggest selling point and draw? Air conditioning! New for the times, and what was hoped would bring the buyers.
The area is one of low traffic, and children can often be seen playing in the streets. Throughout the years, many other homes, most similar in size and proportion to the Cape Cods, have sprouted up around the originals, and they blend well to make this a cozy, welcoming community. It is a peaceful, unassuming, well-landscaped, quiet section of Cranford. And be sure to visit Osceola Park at Christmastime. The area actually serves as drive-through and walk-through entertainment, as a few neighborhood residents take their holiday house decorating very seriously . . . . almost competitively!