Roosevelt Common / Marjorie Sewell Cautley

This post is a “twofer.” 1) It is of an area that I can photograph. 2) It includes my first “Women of New Jersey” post (more to come!). Okay maybe really a threefer: part of the “Hometown”series, but I won’t make that official.

Let’s discuss the designer first. I already was aware that a female architect designed it in 1924. That is extremely impressive, considering we are talking 4 years out from women being able to vote. This woman’s name was Marjorie Sewell Cautley. She was a landscape architect who not only designed this area, but also other places in New Jersey, as well as New York, and later, some work in Philadelphia. She graduated from Cornell University in 1917 and in 1920, opened her own office. Cautley was published in several magazines for her work. Her work was very specific: the plants she chose, the paths were sized certain ways for ease of strollers, etc.

Cautley suffered a nervous breakdown in 1937 and was institutionalized. However, after she was released, she earned herself a Master of Fine Arts in City Planning degree. Then, was again institutionalized in 1946 and passed away in 1954. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate an obituary or know where she is buried.

Now onto the park itself. I had gone on Superbowl Sunday. Since I am not a football fan, unless I’m invited for the food, I figured it would a perfect day to go explore because not many people will be around despite it being a mild day in February. It was, until I decided to trudge through the snow up to my ankles. Once again, I took one for the team and had to cure my disease of curiosity. You can’t really see the actual monument from Riveredge Road, which runs alongside the park, and you can’t see it from the small parking lot either.

The Mackay family gifted 30 acres to the Tenafly Board of Ed in 1924. A year later, the monument was dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt on July 15, 1925. One of the signs in the park states, “Quotations relating to Roosevelt’s defining ideals of courage, heroism and sacrifice and his devotion to conservation are carved in panels set in the sandstone wall of the monument. Elk, bison, deer, and bighorn sheep, surrounded by vegetation and two owls, adorn the eastern, reverse of the relief where TR’s credo of conservation is inscribed.”

As you see in the pictures (and have nightmares about this past winter, I’m sure), there was a lot of snow. Picture it sans snow now; a pond with ducks and geese swimming and raising their little families nearby, actual green leaves on trees, and people walking around for leisure or solitude. Such a beautiful landscape! Thank you Marjorie for everything. I hope you would be happy with how it appears today.

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