Morris County Cultural Center

Introduction

The Aurora Health Farm

The Aurora Health Farm
The Aurora Health Farm
  • The health farm was founded in 1920 by Dr. and Mrs. Schulman of Brooklyn on 100 acres of the Old Mills Farm property in Morris and Passaic Townships.
  • Named for the ancient Roman goddess of dawn, the facility was developed in the European tradition of a kur haus, or health resort.

Architecture

Spanish colonial revival style
Spanish colonial revival style
  • Designed in the Spanish colonial revival style, popular during the 1920s and 1930s, the Morris County Cultural Center began as the Aurora Health Farm in the 1920s.
  • Spanish revival was inspired by the architecture of Spain and Latin America, emphasizing their rich stylistic details. Due to the early influence of New Spain in the Southwest and Southeast, the style is rare outside the Southwest, Texas and Florida.
  • Includes low-pitched roof; little or no eave overhang; red-tiled roof; prominent arch over door or window or porch; stucco wall surface; usually asymmetrical façade.

Corner Stone

Corner Stone
Corner Stone
  • During recent renovations, the corner stone was uncovered noting the building’s construction in 1928 and the founding of the Aurora Health Farm in 1920.

Postcard View

Postcard View
Postcard View
  • This postcard view of the original buildings of the Aurora Health Farm dates from the early 1920s.

Aerial View of Health Farm c. 1950

Aerial View
Aerial View
  • The Schulman house with the original Aurora Health Farm (left)
  • Patient room additions and barn were taken down by the Park Commission in the 1970s.

Taking Some Air

Patio
Patio
  • Staff and patients enjoy an early spring day on the patio.

Cultural Center Exterior c. 1930

Building Rear
Building Rear
  • The rear of the building was once the entrance. The deck encompassed 3 sides of the building and provided a respite for staff and patients alike.
  • The spiral columns with Corinthian capitals, brick trim and quoins, and wrought iron accents added to the Spanish Revival architecture.

Rear of Aurora Health Farm c. 1940

Fountain
Fountain
  • The fountain in the center of the patio was removed in 2004 when the present patio was installed.
  • Benches, tables and chairs made it a popular respite for staff and patients.

Internal Space

The Lobby c. 1930

The Lobby c. 1930
The Lobby c. 1930
  • The interior space was designed to complement the Spanish Revival exterior. Newspapers described the amenities offered as being equal to those of a first class hotel.
  • French doors and large windows ensured the interior space was well lit and ventilated with fresh air and natural light, important health care elements during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Patients’ Dining Room c. 1930

Patients' Dining Room c. 1930
Patients’ Dining Room c. 1930
  • The wrought iron chandeliers and terrazzo floor complemented the Spanish revival architecture. Meals were served on china with silver utensils.
  • White linen tablecloths complemented the formal place settings. The server’s station is to the left.
  • Today the original dining room can be rented from the Park Commission for meetings, parties and cultural events. The chandeliers are gone, but elements of the ceiling remain and the terrazzo floor has been restored.

Private Patient Room c. 1930

Private Patient Room c. 1930
Private Patient Room c. 1930
  • Patient rooms were well appointed. Wall to wall carpeting was a luxury item in the prewar era. Writing desks, overstuffed reading chairs, and a candlestick telephone were standard features in patient rooms.

Lobby Reading Room

Lobby Reading Room
Lobby Reading Room
  • The lobby reading room was appointed with comfortable chairs, large windows and a fireplace.
  • The ceiling medallions in this alcove are hidden behind the modern drop ceiling.
  • This room is now used as public meeting space.

People

Natalie Shulman (1910-1996)

Natalie Shulman (1910-1996)
Natalie Shulman (1910-1996)
  • Daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Schulman, Natalie graduated from Morristown High School and the College of St. Elizabeth. She married Dr. Sherman, her father’s associate.
  • Mrs. Sherman organized a lavish party for the Aurora Health Farm’s 40th anniversary during which physicians, politicians and other community leaders from throughout the tri-state area were greeted by Morristown Mayor, Clyde Potts in 1940.
  • The Daily Record ran the account of the party in May, 1940.

Conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)

Conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)
Conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)
  • An internationally renowned orchestra conductor, Klemperer fled Germany during the Nazi regime.
  • After suffering a stroke and brain surgery, Otto came to the Aurora Health Farm for treatment for his post operative paralysis in 1941.
  • He was the father of actor Werner Klemperer, known for his work as televisions Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes.

Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950)

Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950)
Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950)
  • Schneersohn was the international leader of the Lubavitcher movement.
  • The Rabbi had been arrested in 1927 by Soviet authorities and was facing death by firing squad when prominent Americans interceded and were successful in having him exiled, first to Poland and then to the US.
  • He was a patient at Aurora in 1941 and 1944 for treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

Mae Questel (1908-1998)

Mae Questel (1908-1998)
Mae Questel (1908-1998)
  • Questel was the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl.
  • From 1950 through 1960 she was the voice of the Hasbro Kid, Nabisco’s Buffalo Bee, and the talking Fizzies Tablet.
  • Questal is thought to have been a patient at the Aurora Health Farm.

Medicine

Patients Please

Advertisement
Advertisement
  • Advertisements in the Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey lauded the health farm as being suitable for convalescence, the treatment of anemia, hypertension, rheumatism, and heart ailments.
  • Advertisements were featured in local newspapers and professional journals during the 1930s and 1940s.
  • By the 1940s a regional newspaper compared the facility with a first class hotel.
  • Lectures for the medical profession were also held at Aurora.

Treatment

Treatment
Treatment
  • Electrotherapy was used to stimulate the nervous system.
  • Hydrotherapy in the form of steam baths and light therapy were state of the art treatments for a variety of somatic and neurological ailments.
  • During the 20s, 30s and 40s the first floor housed the various patient treatment rooms.

X-Ray Machine c. 1929

X-Ray Machine c. 1929
X-Ray Machine c. 1929
  • After WWI, X-ray machines gained in popularity among physicians as a useful and necessary diagnostic tool.

Today

The Cultural Center Today

The building is part of the Morris County Park System and is home to several county agencies including

  • Morris County Park Commission Visitor Services and Recreation Departments
  • The Morris County Park Police

About this Exhibit

  • This is the first of several exhibits planned outlining the history of county-owned structures.
  • Building histories comprise many facets other than architecture. The structures association with people and events should also be considered.
  • All images are the property of the Morris County Heritage Commission unless otherwise indicated.