The Whitesbog Preservation Trust has interpreted five buildings as museums depicting the life and times of Whitesbog Village. These museums are open during scheduled village tours, special programs, and by appointment. See Elizabeth C. White‘s home, Suningive.
Suningive was Elizabeth Coleman White’s home. Constructed in 1923, it served a dual purpose: housing the company offices on the first floor and Miss White’s residence on the second and third floors. The Whitesbog Preservation Trust has interpreted the first floor office space and parts of her living quarters. On the third floor, her bedroom features mostly original furniture. Suningive is open for tours during scheduled village tours and by special appointment. When it is not open, be sure to at least walk around the gardens, which feature native plant species.
Unlike the fashion of the era, when farmers lived in town and an on-site manager supervised farming operations, Elizabeth White chose to build her own home in Whitesbog Village on the site of her first blueberry fields. She chose the site to overlook the first bog that her grandfather, James A. Fenwick, planted with cranberries.
The design and layout of the house reflects her interests and priorities. Located on the southeast corner of the first floor are offices from which she managed her blueberry and holly enterprises; on the west side of the first floor is a large garage. The small front room served as a utility room, and first-aid station for the farm’s workers. There is a small bathroom accessible from a side door off the porch, which was included for use by farm workers visiting Suningive for aid.
The second and third floors were designed as her living quarters. The kitchen has since been remodeled for modern use, but the other rooms are essentially as they were when Miss White lived there. The living room is deliberately oriented toward a view of the old cranberry bog, which is surrounded by a pine forest.
There were two bedrooms on the second floor and two on the third floor, one of which was White’s. She had a large extended family and many friends, so the three extra bedrooms were used often by her many visitors. One of the rooms on the third floor was quite large and could accommodate several beds in dormitory style, so it housed summer interns. There are full bathroom on each of these floors.
A unique feature of the house is the design of her windows, which can be opened up all the way into the space between the walls, so that air can enter through the entire window. Awnings were used to shade the windows in summer. There were no trees on the property in 1923, yet the dynamics of the house kept it relatively cool.
In order to elevate the house above the level of a rather high water table, soil was dug out of the area just west of the house. Miss White saw the potential of this space, and created a pond by installing a pipe in from the channel on the opposite side of the road and a pipe out to the bog.
The potting shed was originally a duplex privy, located in the original blueberry test fields. When Suningive was built, one side of the privy was converted to create a potting shed. This charming structure has been completely restored and is currently used by the Trust.
The New Jersey Agriculture Experimental Cranberry Substation
The Research Substation is presented as a 1920s window into the scientific efforts that occurred during the infancy of the cranberry and blueberry industries.
This structure is a Sears catalogue home called the “Sunburst,” built in 1918. This explains the differences between this building and the many others of the Village. It is a single-level dwelling whose structural frame pattern is divided into panels, doors, windows, and porch screens.
It was erected as the first cranberry sub-station in the state and was maintained by a special appropriation of the state legislature. Under the direction of entomologist Charles C. Beckwith, the substation’s initial focus was the study of insects injurious to cranberries. In 1927 the substation’s functions were transferred to a larger facility in Pemberton. After 1927, workers of J. J. White, Inc. occupied the bungalow until it fell into disrepair.
In 2008, the Whitesbog Preservation Trust completely restored the Substation to its original appearance with funds granted by The 1772 Foundation. Today visitors are welcome to view the Cranberry Substation “window exhibits” daily from dawn to dusk, when Whitesbog Village is open to the public. The scheduled Village Tours (see our Calendar of Events for days and times) include a guided tour of this museum. Living History Events include entomologist Charles Beckwith (portrayed by an historical interpreter) explaining the research done in the Substation.
Today, the Trust maintains copies of the historic records for research and provides educational exhibits about the fascinating events and discoveries that unfolded here.
The Interpretive Cottage, Building #9
This Workers’ Cottage is one of 4 buildings erected at the end of the 1890s to accommodate seasonal laborers. Also known as Building #9 or the Interpreted Workers’ Cottage, it has been furnished to look as it would have in the early 1900s. Originally these small cottages each housed four families: two lived upstairs, and two lived downstairs. There was a center brick chimney which serviced all 4 units. Outhouses were behind the structure and cooking was done outside.
Around 1912, the houses were altered to duplexes and changes were made to allow year-round residency. These changes included addition of one-story shed kitchens with separate chimney stacks for kitchen stoves on the west facade, addition of porches on the east facades, demolition of the first-story north-south partitions, removal of two stairs on each dwelling and installation of doorways between east and west second floor bedrooms. Around 1914 plumbing was introduced in the form of sinks installed in the kitchen sheds, one for each unit. In the mid-twentieth century, the buildings were converted to single-family homes.
Building #12 was the first of the workers’ cottages to be built, probably in 1895. When the other cottages were converted to duplexes around 1911, Building #12 was made into a single-family dwelling. All stairways in Building #12 were removed and a hidden pull-down stairway was installed. The kitchen shed was added to the north side rather than on the west as in the other cottages. The roof pitch is also steeper on this building, reducing the second-story windows to “attic” windows. In 2011, Building #12 became the Whitesbog Visitors Center.
Whitesbog Agricultural Museum
The Barrel Storage Warehouse is home to the Whitesbog Agricultural Museum. It is open to the public during scheduled Village Tours, during the Blueberry Festival in June and by appointment.
The barrel storage house was designed not only to store barrels but also to accommodate an abundant cranberry harvest. Like the packing and storage building, this extant structure has a railway down its middle and a slatted floor. The large doors seen on the right in the picture above allowed for the rail tracks to connect to the Barrel Factory.
It is one story high with concrete foundations, braced heavy-timber construction, and 9-inch tongue-and-groove vertical siding. The gable roof is of standing-seam metal on 7 1/2-inch roofing boards carried by 2 x 8 rafters. The rafters are cross-braced to the opposite row of 4 x 6 columns extending along either side of the railway. Primary access to the building is along its southeast façade, where seven evenly spaced doors are located. The plan is rectangular and measures 32 feet wide by 112 feet long. Windows in the gabled ends are of 6-over-6 double-hung wooden sash.
Whitesbog General Store
The General Store is its own museum. The original butcher block table is on display and the refrigeration unit that once used ice, stored in the ice house. The glass cabinets and shelving are from 1924.
The General Store is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 4:00pm, from February through December. The Store can also be opened by Special Request to the Whitesbog Preservation Trust’s Visitor’s Center at (609) 893-4646. The Store is ADA accessible with Handicapped parking nearby. Most major credit cards are accepted.
Whitesbog’s General Store served the village’s residents and seasonal workers from 1899 until the late 1960s. The current structure was built in 1924 to accommodate an expanded store space and a new Post Office.
The General Store was the main source of supplies for residents and pickers. The store sold food staples, grains, meats and milk along with the normal commodities such as fabric, yarn, and sundries. Of special interest are the specific display cases for cakes, pies, and candy. Goods were paid for by either cash or the tickets issued to the berry pickers. The storekeeper and his family lived above the store. After the State bought Whitesbog, the store and post office closed.
The Whitesbog Preservation Trust restored the building’s interior and the General Store was opened again in 2000 as a gift shop featuring cranberry and blueberry food items, local artisan crafts, Pine Barren Books, Whitesbog memorabilia and other unique items. The Store is also the gathering point for most of Whitesbog’s tours and educational programs.