South Orange Train Station 100 Year Celebration (RECAP)

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Thursday, March 2, 2017

History, Community, Legacy, and South Orange Train Station Celebration

One of the great things about small towns is the ability for events to be held that can affect all the folks around town.  A cornerstone of South Orange is historic places, holding outdoor events, and specifically events that have live music events associated with them.  One such place in town is the South Orange Train Station.  

"The South Orange Train Station has been at the heart of South Orange's growth and development since the train service was first established," Village President Sheena Collum said.

Back then, it used to take 1 hour and 45 minutes to get from South Orange to Newark, NJ.  However, now it takes less than 15 mins.  Being one of the residents who moved out to South Orange because of the 30-minute commute to NYC, I for one was glad to see they were going to honor this beautiful historic station. 

Historic South Orange Train Lackawanna Station

   South Orange Train Station  http://lackawannarrelevation.blogspot.com/

 South Orange Train Station http://lackawannarrelevation.blogspot.com/

Built in 1916 by architect Frank J. Nies, the South Orange Train Station was designed in the Renaissance Revival style and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.  The South Orange train station has always been at its current location, but before 1916, the tracks were not elevated.  That year, the train went above ground to prevent pedestrian and animal accidents on South Orange Avenue.  Over $1 million was spent for the elevation.  

2016 South Orange Train Station, Sloan Street, S.O., NJ

  South Orange Train Station – Sloan Street

South Orange Train Station – Sloan Street

Fast forward to today and one learns that the station is the busiest along NJ Transit's Morris-Essex line, serving about 4,000 riders every day.  Underneath, a wide range of stores serve the residents.  It is the center of the town.  It’s also widely known that over the past 100 years, South Orange's growth and prosperity is related to the station.

South Orange Train Station – S.O. 100 Year Celebration

  S.O. 100 Year Station Celebration

S.O. 100 Year Station Celebration

In honor of the station's centennial on Oct 1st, 2016, the South Orange Village and New Jersey Transit held a theme party fundraiser titled South Orange Train Station 100th Anniversary Celebration.  This event was hosted by South Orange Village Center, South Orange Village, SOPAC - South Orange Performing Arts Center and the South Orange Historical & Preservation Society.  The objective was to raise funds with the net proceeds of the event to benefit the Fund for South Orange Station, a new program that will make aesthetic improvements to the station as it begins its second century of service.

Dining, Dancing and More

  Having fun at the 100 year South Orange train station celebration

Having fun at the 100 year South Orange train station celebration

Sloan Street was shut down for a roaring 20’s party to celebrate our architectural gem of a train station and the rail service that changed our town.  Upon admission to the celebration area, one’s senses were pleasantly assaulted by a host of roaring 20’s activities.  There was  a brief presentation.  A key component of the event was the roaring 20’s theme which drove many to come out tastefully dressed for the occasion, and it was fun to see folks’ reincarnation of the times.  There was also a host of delectable appetizers and desserts that were simply scrumptious.  Of course, there were spirits (as in beer and wine) along with a signature event, Centennial Cocktail.  Throughout the night there was a historic look-back-through-time presentation that flashed onto the wall of the South Orange Train Station.

Roaring Twenties Dancing a Blast

  Dressing and Dancing to the Beat

Dressing and Dancing to the Beat

In a town like this that likes to bill itself as the live music capital of the world, what would an event like this be without live music?  For the night, there was a 20-piece swing band under the direction of Ben Williams, with vocalist Jay Dougherty and he sang just like a 20’s-style crooner.  He sang some wonderful tunes.  Also, in addition to the town’s folks, the local Seton Hall University had several nattily dressed folks that came to dance in the look and feel of the 20s, and that was fun to watch.

Dignitaries, Sponsors, Supporters, and More Came Out

  Dignitaries – county and community leaders in attendance

Dignitaries – county and community leaders in attendance

Now what would an event like this be without dignitaries speaking?  It was impressive in that the ceremony was honored by dignitaries from the community, New Jersey Transit, South Orange Village, Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, New Jersey State, the Senator’s Office, Seton Hall University, and more.  The complete list of sponsors can be found at SOStation100.

Roaring Twenties South Orange Train Station Centenial Celebration! 

  Photo Credit:   Matt Peyton Photography

To sum it up, South Orange Village President reported:

“Preliminary numbers show that we had roughly 350 guests and raised over $15,000 to help revitalize our historic station including: plantings, lighting replacement and installation of art / murals to celebrate our history and take us into the next 100 years.  The music, dancers, food, and drinks were spectacular!  And the night would not have been possible without the generous support of all our sponsors, our amazing volunteers, and of course, our Village staff and South Orange Village Center who continue to amaze me with the quality and caliber of events we're doing.  We sure do know how to throw a party in South Orange!”

  Gregory Burrus, Photojournalist, with South Orange Village President Sheena Collum at S.O. Train Station Celebration

Gregory Burrus, Photojournalist, with South Orange Village President Sheena Collum at S.O. Train Station Celebration

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians, and local art exhibitions.  Gregory is a manager and promoter of the South Orange Village Center Alliance Downtown After Sundown Live Music Events, Board Member of the North Jersey Blues Alliance, Friend of the Valley Arts District in Orange, NJ and avid supporter of jazz, blues and art all around our towns and the Greater  New York / New Jersey area.  On a regular basis, Gregory gets the word out through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.

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