The Roebling Museum Helps us to Know the Area’s Social History

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John Augustus Roebling
John Augustus Roebling

[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ohn August Roebling — the first president of the chamber that evolved to become the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce — was a brilliant engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur, who designed bridges, buildings, and machines, kept his own financial journals, and in his spare time studied and wrote about science and philosophy, and played the violin and piano.

Constructed in 1907, the 7,000-square foot Roebling Museum was meticulously restored by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of a clean-up of the 240- acre Roebling mill site. The building was turned over to the Township of Florence and the Roebling Museum in June of 2009. The museum’s mission is to document, preserve, and exhibit the history of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Co., the Roebling family, and the village of Roebling. Its focus is not only on the industrial and technological achievements of the company, but on the unique social history of its workforce and the town it created. The museum bridges a storied past to the present, providing exhibits and programs that can satisfy the interests of the worldwide public, and serving as a valuable resource for school curriculum-enhancement programs and academic research.

“The Roebling Museum is a real treasure for our region. So much history lives here, because of the contributions the John A. Roebling’s Sons Co. and all of their workers have made to the world and to industry through the innovation, use, and manufacturing of wire rope,” says Roebling Museum Executive director Varissa McMickens Blair. “But this museum and this historic village are also vital to our region’s future, because they represent what is possible when business and community work together to build something great. This institution represents inspiration for current and future generations of mid-Jersey residents.” The museum’s collection includes large railroad and steel mill equipment, and several thousand wooden patterns of machine parts. Privately donated objects include photographs, drawings, catalogs, Roebling school records, village memorabilia, and some Roebling family items. Many of these items were collected by the Roebling Historical Society, which transferred them to the museum in 2009.