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  • Celebrating the 100Th Anniversary of the Grover Cleveland Memorial Birthplace Association

    by Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen

    Posted on 2013-03-12

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    FRELINGHUYSEN of new jersey in the house of representatives Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the Grover Cleveland Memorial Birthplace Association, located in Caldwell, New Jersey, as they celebrate their Centennial this year.

    The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association was incorporated in 1913 as a non-profit organization ``to honor and perpetuate the memory of Grover Cleveland''. Stephen Grover Cleveland rose from humble beginnings as the fifth of nine children to a Presbyterian minister in Caldwell, New Jersey. After serving several years as an apprentice clerk in a local law firm, Grover Cleveland passed the bar and opened his own firm in 1859. He soon became a rather prominent lawyer and Democratic politician, and in 1881, was elected mayor of Buffalo, New York. Grover Cleveland's career continued to ascend, and during his gubernatorial term in New York from 1883 to 1884, interest in preserving his birth site kindled. He then served a presidential term beginning 1885, and again beginning 1892, becoming the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. The political prestige fueled the interest in the preservation of his Caldwell birthplace.

    The site was originally erected as a manse by the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell on the north side of Newark Turnpike. It housed Reverend Richard Falley Cleveland, his wife, Ann Neal Cleveland, and their ever-expanding family, when their fifth child was born on March 18, 1837. He was named for the church's first minister, Stephen Grover. During the ensuing years, the house and barn were enlarged and ``modernized'' to accommodate the family. In 1902, the Church began negotiations for the sale of the property at $18,000, to only be used as a CFO COI memorial to Grover Cleveland, and in 1907, a committee of friends installed a bronze tablet in the room where he was born. The then 70-year-old Grover Cleveland wrote that he was profoundly moved by this event. Finally, in 1913, the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association was incorporated with four officers and thirty-nine trustees, all prominent citizens throughout the country. The Association purchased the house and lot, as well as the lot along Arlington Avenue. However, they faced financial difficulties during the depression, and the State of New Jersey assumed ownership. Governor Moore appointed twenty trustees to oversee the property. Fortunately, in 1936 the house was restored to its 1870 appearance under a government Works Progress Administration program, and was placed under the Bureau of Historical Monuments (subsequently under the Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, Division of Parks and Forestry). The house is listed on both the National and New Jersey Register of Historic Places.

    The Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association was reactivated in 1986 for the Sesquicentennial of Grover Cleveland's Birth (1987), and still functions today as a voluntary auxiliary working in full cooperation with the state. It is an officially recognized Friends Organization. In 1990, the Mayor of Caldwell appointed a liaison with the birthplace, a GCBMA trustee, establishing direct contact with the Borough. The Association continues to promote greater interest and use of this national historic site, which hosts several period exhibits and activities from the lifetime of Grover Cleveland. Throughout their long history, they have worked to bring awareness to the site and the great history surrounding Grover Cleveland.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask you and my colleagues to join me in congratulating the Grover Cleveland Memorial Birthplace Association as they celebrate their Centennial.


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