By MOLLY HONE
For Montclair Local
“History & Heritage” is a series on Montclair history, written by representatives of the Montclair History Center and the Montclair Public Library. Molly Hone is head of adult services, Montclair Public Library.
Montclair Public Library is in a Spring state of mind! As I write this, I can hear birds chirping and see people walking about outside, enjoying a beautiful early Spring day, which is why I was inspired to choose this photograph for History & Heritage.
This photograph from our local history collection shows three unnamed individuals enjoying the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair circa 1945. The photograph is by Mitchell Kelly.
Sometimes it’s the details that we love about these historic photographs. For example, while the three in the foreground seem to like being up close and personal with the flowers, if you look closely, it appears the gentleman in the background is sneezing in response!
The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens were started as a memorial to Frank H. Presby, a Montclair resident and founder of the American Iris Society. According to the Presby Memorial Gardens website, Presby wanted to gift a collection of irises to the new Mountainside Park, but he passed away before that could happen. Three years later, in 1927, Katherine Inness, the first curator of Montclair Art Museum, with the instrumental help of botanist Barbara Walther, succeeded in establishing the Gardens.
Today, the park is as beautiful as ever and still accessible from dawn to dusk. The flowers are usually in bloom from mid-May to early June. The Gardens are open to the public, but there is a suggested donation.
I, for one, can’t wait to see Presby, and all of our lovely parks, in all their Spring glory! (After all, they’re a great place to sit and read one of our many books!)
To see more historic photographs, including images of Montclair parks, visit digifind-it.com/montclair/home.php and search the photo collection. There are over 10,000 digitized photographs, plus city directories, and more. To see more of MPL’s archival offerings, contact us to make a local history appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-744-0500 x2235.
Montclair Public Library serves the community of Montclair at two locations — its Main Library at 50 South Fullerton Ave and Bellevue Branch at 185 Bellevue Ave. Check website for hours. The library is open 24/7 online at e.montclairlibrary.org.