By Peter Zablocki
Denville is a town that is rich with history, and we love to reflect on how things have changed over the years. Read on as Peter Zablocki, Vice President of the Denville Historical Society, takes us on a trip back in time.
La Cucina Restaurant
With the development of Morris County’s mines and forges came the idea for better means of transportation. The subsequent construction of the Morris Canal in the 1830s led to the development and growth of the part of Rockaway Township that became Denville. Along the entire route of the canal were several “locks” and “planes” to account for the variation in ground levels. Denville’s main “lock” was located directly outside Bill and Ed Peer’s General Store (today’s La Cucina). The Morris Canal was sparingly used and all but forgotten by World War I in 1914. At that time, Ed Peer locked the canal each Sunday to fill it with water and give local kids that did not live in one of Denville’s lake communities a place to swim.
Morris County School of Technology
Long before anyone thought of Gardner Field or Zeek Field, Imperial Field hosted Denville’s main sporting events. The field was built in 1932 by the Denville Civic Association and sponsored by the Imperial Laundry of Newark, which rented the ballpark to Denville Township for one dollar a year. Eager spectators filled the grandstands throughout the 1930s and 1940s to watch local football and baseball teams competing in inter-county leagues. In 1946, Imperial Laundry sold the field, prompting the Township to tear down the maintenance-starved grandstand in 1949. This did not stop the local kids from using the field until 1952, before a local business purchased it to build an office building. The land would eventually be sold to the Morris County School of Technology, which started its share time and adult program in 1969.
Peter Zablocki is a local historian, author, and educator. He can be reached at peterzablocki.com.