Updated: Aug 18, 2022
The Golf Island neighborhood of Maplewood, bordered by the Maplewood Country Club golf course, the Morris and Essex rail line, and the Maplewood Middle School, evolved from farmland in the 19th and early 20th centuries to today’s cohesive suburban neighborhood. Beginning with New York druggist John W. Shedden’s 1861-1867 purchases of 30 acres around Maple Street, home lots were mapped and two “cottages” were built. Of larger consequence to the town was Shedden’s donation of one acre of land (near Lenox Avenue in the current Village) to the Morris and Essex Railroad to build a station, soon named ‘Maplewood Station’ for a notable nearby tree and maple swamp.
Development began slowly, then accelerated in the early 1900s with new streets and houses and the construction of the 1903 brick Maplewood School on Baker Street. By 1910, the neighborhood largely took on the layout we see today. In 1916, the Maplewood Field Club (later the Maplewood Country Club) acquired property to the east previously owned by Charles DeGrasse, builder of the Maplewood Sporting Club, beginning the setting of clear boundaries and preventing development of the land surrounding Golf Island.
Various town residents had their hand in selling and subdividing property or building houses, including the Brower, Pierson, and Salter families, and architect Kenneth Dalzell. The homes are primarily early 20th century single-family dwellings in the Colonial Revival, Italian Revival, and Craftsman styles. Some Victorian houses remain at the northeastern end.
In 2017-18, an architectural survey of Golf Island was completed for the Maplewood Historic Preservation Commission by Hunter Research Inc. An exhibit at the Durand-Hedden House displayed maps, shows representative houses, explained the history of the golf course and Maplewood Middle School, and featured stories of some early developers and residents.