Clarence Ware- The Printshop; Citizen Cane; the Radio Show; and FDR.

Home page
History page
The House itself


 From "A Child's Story of American Literature"; 1923



The  "Printshop" from "The listener's Guide" to the NBC radio show "Ted Malone's Pilgrimage of Poetry".

Two weeks after the auction in 1918, we read in the July 31st Register and Matawan Journal edition at the the time, that the Magnolia Farm was sold to the colorful Clarence Ware. 

The property is discribed as "consisting of 98 acres, large main house, about a dozen outbuildings, two other dwellings, stable, etc, and was valued at $50,000".

On the map below I've outlined what I believe the lot looked like in 1918 based on a 1915 Matawan Township tax map, and a 1938 Marlboro tax map.



Clarence Ware was a well known horse dealer from Mount Vernon New York, and so continued the Magnolia Farm's long tradition in horses. 

As seen in the add to the right, from an up-state newspaper, he would buy and sell horses by the car load.

He would also speculate on trotters, often buying and selling the same day.

In his younger days Clarence was a jockey, and not above (at least the appearance of) shenanigans. In the article below from 1886, Clarence is accused of getting a new jockey drunk, and then selling his horse. The charges were later dismissed.



One of Clarence Ware's more successful trades (at least from what we can glean a hundred years later) was the trotter "Sloppy Weather".

As seen in the article to the right, like the Higgins before them, the Wares were both accomplished horse people, with Clarence's wife Francis actually driving the horse to victory, and boldly challanging a comtemporary to a match race.


Sadly, however, the Wares did not share Magnolia Farm as Clarence's wife never lived here.

We don't know whether moving to Jersey was the cause or affect of the seperation, but though they would never divorce, Francis lived with her sister in New York until she died in 1941. Below from Nov of 1919 we see that Clarence tried to sell it almost immediately (but he would stay there for almost 30 years).

However Clarence did begin selling off the Magnolia Farm and began getting more interested in the Freneau connection. The excerpt from a Matawan Journal article from 1927 below describes a couple of sales including the portion on the other side of Rt. 79. 


This NY Times article from the same year mentions his engagment with the Monmouth Historical Society to try and sell them Freneau's grave.


The Monmouth County Historical Society couldn't afford his asking price, so below records the efforts of a local dealership to get Henry Ford  to buy the place.
In the end he didn't sell at that time, so Freneau remained in Locust Grove.


In 1932 there was a major fire on the site when the large barn (125 ft) burnt down. The article at left says that a huge effort was required to keep the house from burning down (again) also. It also says a large "garage" was saved. This may be the present garage"as some estimates put it as old as the 20's.

Below is  view of the house from Freneau's monument across the street that shows the large detached garage.


The "Printshop"
During the 30's he began even more vigorously promoting the Freneau connection to his property.
At this time a "printshop" (small building attached to the main house in the location of my present kitchen) appeared.
Clarence would conduct tours of the building (I believe for 25 cents).
There were a few suspicious things about this claim:
    • First, the only reference to the existence of the print shop prior to this time was 50 years earlier in an article in the Monmouth Inquirer from July 31st, 1884, which stated that the "printing office stood about 100 yards from the house, and excaped being burned".
    • Second, Clarence stated he had no knowledge of the Freneau connection and never made any mention of a printshop earlier, such as in 1927 when he was trying to sell the property.
    • Lastly, in 1895 James B Ryer did a major renovation employing the prominent architect H.A.Young, who would not have left the rather didilapidated shack attached to the now stately house.
Never the less, Clarence was quite busy in its promotion, especially in 1939.
Below the WPA Writers Project "New Jersey- A Guide to its Present and Past" includes the site on one of its tours.


Below in another 1939 WPA book "Matawan 1636-1936" we see the property taking on its form that it would have for the next 35 years as the working "Magnolia Farm" becomes "Poet's Dream" a 15 acre residential estate with a beautiful, maple lined, driveway.


Citizen Cane 
Another big event in 1939 was the attempted auction of the property. Clarence Ware prominantly featured the Freneau connection in advertising for the sale.
The house was described as having fourteen rooms- more than it has today. This would have included the large addition to the right of the "printshop", removed in 1949 when the kitchen was built). It also highlights the hot-water heat.

Since the notice says that it includes "fire logs" and "gas logs", this may mean that the original fireplace (which was likely on the northside) was still used at that time.

The heating system is one of my favorite features of the house. The system is industrial quality with enormous circulating pumps that keep the house as warm as we want without the dryness of forced air.

 As seen below, as was often the case (and I'm sure encouraged by Clarence) sale of the property always aroused interest.


Below we see that Clarence was not successful as the the only bid was $17,000, much less than he wanted. One interesting note is that one of the bidders was none other than William Randolph Hearst , (Citizen Cane himself) who was interested in turning my house into a retiremet home for old newspaper men.

Below the picture and caption again highlight the "printshop", attached to the house.


The article also details how two great-grandchildren of Freneau attended the auction for "sentimental"reasons. I was able to buy one of the great-grandchildren's (Edmund Freneau) diary off ebay. Among tidbits (such as a letter confirming his attendance at Lindberg's reception in NY after his return from France) is a hand-copied part of Freneau's play called "The Spy".


The Radio Show
The  "Printshop" reached its height of popularity when the final big event of 1939 occurred on November 5th.
Ted Malone was a famous radio personality at the time and one of his shows was a "Pilgimage of Poetry". Each week he would broadcast on site from the home of a famous american poet.
In 1939 he broadcast from my house "the print shop".
 Below is the cover and text of the listener's guide to the NBC radio show "Ted Malone's Pilgrimage of Poetry" that was broadcast from my house.

Below is the accompanying picture from radio show listeners guide of the "printshop" that Clarence Ware would give tours of. It is in the location of where my kitchen (which was added in 1949) currently is. The building connected to the right is the main house, the building to the left is gone.



The University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections has an excellent collection of Ted Malone material and they graciously sent me scans of two photos that were in the collection of my house at the time (1939). They are the oldest pictures I have of the house. Somes things to note:


  • The chimey is still there (so it wasn't removed by James B. Ryer in 1895);
  • The portch wraps around on both sides (no additions on the side); and
  • There was a lot of gingerbread on the portch; and
  • They show why Ted Malone called my tree the "oldest largest magnolia tree in the world. 






I've listened to a recording of the broadcast at the library of Congress, and also thanks to UMKC, I have the script Ted Malone used in the broadcast.

Its actually a very nice little bio on Freneau and his poetry. He calls my Magnolia tree one of the largest and oldest in the world. To the left is a local article on the event.









The "Printshop" Scam Revealed

However, the reality of the "Printshop" was revealed by the next owners the Fritschs.

A 1953 article  in the Star Ledger which included a discussion with Ralph Fritsch, the son of the owner, stated:

"it seems that, when the family remodeled the building some seven years ago, there was one wing which local folk say had taught was Freneau's printshop. Since this section was marked for demolition, it was offered to the local historical society for display in freehold.

The day the truck came for the old timbers, however, the boss carpenter stepped forward and warned the historians: "I wouldn't put this on display if I were you. This building may fool some historian but any carpenter could tell that it was added sometime after Freneau's days."

So apparently, the entrepeneurial Clarence Ware at some time during the depression put together the "Printshop" to increase the marketability of the property.

Below is a later photograph of the printshop (perhaps right before demolition) from the Freneau collection of the Monmouth Historical Association


To the right is the same view today- my kitchen.
I found newspapers shoved in spaces, apparently for insulation that dated from 1949, which leads me to believe that's when it was built. However the beams supporting it, visible in the basement, are unusualy large timbers.

On August 21, 1941, Congress approved a Resolutio authorizing the President of the United States "to issue a proclamation designating December 15, 1941, as Bill of Rights Day, calling upon officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on that day, and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and prayer".
In November FDR such a proclamation, and two ceremonies were held at the Freneau homestead to celebrate it. The first in 1941 was a large affair attended by 200 people with speaches, a band an a fireing squad. The event was solem, coming just a week after Pearl Harbor.

 At the event the VFW also announced their plans to buy the property and make it a national shrine.

















The second ceremony was in 1943. It was significant because of the dedication of a gavel made from a tree on Freneau's grave that was created for presentation to Roosevelt.






Below is one of the final advertisements for the farm that Ware placed



econdary sources are Philip M. Marsh who wrote multiple books and articles on Freneau including "Philip Freneau Poet and Journalist" and a number of articles for the proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society including "Freneau's Last Home" in the April, 1939 volume; Lewis Leary who multiple books including"That Rascal freneau- A Study in Literary Failure", and also contributed articles to the New Jersey Historical Society including Philip Freneau and Monmouth County for the July 1948 volume; Mary Austin's "Philip Freneau- The Poet of the Revolution"; the WPA writers "New Jersey- A Guide to its Present and Past, 1939; New Aberdeen or the Scotch Settlment of Monmouth County New Jersey, James Steen 1899; Matawan 1686 - 1936, Written and Illustrated by the Federal Writers Projects, 1939; Documents relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, V 21; Evert A Duyckinck and others.

Primary sources include images of the Freneau family bible, John Hammels notebook at the from the Monmouth County Historical Association Freneau Collection, deeds, newspapers especially the Red Bank Register, Matawan Journal and New York Times, and other historical documents.
Also special thanks to Stephen Gale, an Architectural Research Consultant, who shares a common interest in Freneau and his lands and is helping me research.

Powered by