New Providence Roots
Do you know the history of how New Providence got it's name? Originally a Puritan colony established in 1720, it was called "Turkey Town" because of the abundance of wild turkeys. Then in 1759 lightening struck the Presbyterian Church in the center of town, the balcony collapsed, yet no one was injured. It was seen as divine intervention, an act of providence, and thus the name of the town was changed to New Providence. The original logo for the town includes a turkey, the Salt Brook, and the church. The Salt Brook which runs through town got it's name during the Revolutionary War when locals dumped all their salt into the brook to keep it out of the hands of the British soldiers.
(The Presbyterian Church in center of New Providence, and the Salt Box Museum)
If you look out of the front door of the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services office, you'll see that historic steeple and Cindy's whole life centers right around that historical spot. She grew up in New Providence, sings and leads worship at that Presbyterian church, works at the paint store across the street from the church, has painted murals in homes, churches and businesses in town, has chosen paint colors for thousands of homes, raised her kids in town, has long historic roots in town, and still lives here. If you want to know what it's like to live in New Providence, she knows better than anyone.
(Inside the church today, the sanctuary still looks much the same. But the new section is very modern.)
(The brook that runs through town, and Salt Brook School.)
Cindy comes from a long line of creative people. Originally born in Harrisburg, PA, she moved to New Providence, NJ when she was a child. Her grandmother was Patti Pickens, a famous singer with The Pickens Sisters from the 1930's. After the death of her first husband Robert Simmons, Patti married Rev.Canon Charles Shreve, and the couple moved to the Murray HIll section of New Providence in 1959 where he built St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on South St. in New Providence.
Cindy's parents eventually packed up the family from Pennsylvania and followed them to New Providence, where her mother, a Ballet teacher, opened St. Andrew's Ballet School. Cindy watched as the artist Fernando Calderon painted murals in the church, and grew up dancing and singing in the church choir.
She met her husband in high school when he was a volunteer on the New Providence Fire Department. He was born and raised in New Providence, and his family has roots in the town going back all the way to 1927 when his Grandparents moved to town. His father liked to tell stories of how he walked to Lincoln School through the corn fields! These areas of course are now the housing developments that we know today. Her husband Robert works for the Borough of New Providence and knows everything there is to know about the town. He knows all the ins and outs of how the town works from the Recreation Department, to flood zones, roads, garbage pick up, playgrounds, sports fields, you name it.
They have four children who grew up in New Providence, attended both Salt Brook School and Allen W. Roberts Elementary Schools and graduated from New Providence High School. Their daughter Denise is now the Deputy Borough Clerk for New Providence, and if you watch the Borough Council meetings on local access TV you will see her there. Any questions about paying taxes, building permits, dog and marriage licenses, etc. you can talk to Denise at the Borough Hall. Their daughter Patti is a Special Education Teacher in Charlotte, NC. Their son Robbie has Special Needs and attended the Developmental Learning Center in New Providence, which was originally Hillview School, the elementary school that Cindy and her husband both attended.
Their youngest son David was a star athlete who played basketball, soccer, baseball and football and graduated NPHS in 2014. David now plays football for Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. Coincidentally, Cindy's Great Aunt Jane Pickens lived right down the street on Belleview Avenue in Newport, and the Jane Pickens Theater is named after her.
Cindy has worked at McGrath's Paint and Hardware in New Providence for ten years, a store that is an icon in the center of town. She has helped thousands of customers choose their paint colors and she is very recognizable in town. Between her singing, painting, design work, living, working and raising her kids in New Providence, she's a very familiar face and you won't find anyone who knows this town better than she does.
If you're looking for someone to give you the tour of town, she is the one to call.