Oakeside, home to the Bloomfield Cultural Center since 1981, is a civic treasure that has long played an important role in the life of the community. The 23-room home, originally known simply as “240”, after its Belleville Avenue address, was built in the colonial revival style in 1895 by the Oakes family, which operated a textile mill in Bloomfield from 1830 until 1945. The Oakes textile mill was famous for producing “Oakes Blue”, a material used for police, firefighter and Union soldier uniforms, and for the inaugural suit worn by President William McKinley.
David Oakes, grandson of original textile magnate, moved into Oakeside in 1910 with his bride, Jean Doswell, of Virginia. A prominent Bloomfield couple, they raised four children at the Oakes estate.
The stately home features a brownstone and cedar exterior, wrap around veranda and the classic Port Cochere of its era. The Oakes family made substantial improvements to the house and grounds over the years, adding a formal rose garden, a solarium and a kitchen garden to provide herbs and vegetables. A sleeping porch, built in 1915 when Mr. Oakes contracted typhoid fever, is thought to have aided his recovery by providing fresh air at night. These gracious details are enjoyed by more than 15,000 visitors each year, including many brides and grooms who hold their wedding receptions at the Oakes estate.
In 1979, Jean Oakes donated the house to Bloomfield Township. The job of restoring and maintaining this architectural gem is a large one, and has been supported through generous grants by the township, the New Jersey Historic Trust, the Federal Government and many individual donors. Oakeside is now fully handicapped accessible, and hosts many cultural activities for the people of Bloomfield and their neighbors.
Available for guided group tours, Oakeside is a living reminder of earlier times, when textile factories formed the cornerstone of Bloomfield’s economy, and when canal boats pulled by mule, transported these goods to Port Newark by way of the Morris Canal.
For More Information on the Mansion Visit the Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center Website