Awards Recognize Efforts To Preserve NJ History

FLEMINGTON — To celebrate May as National Preservation Month in New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Historic Preservation Office and the New Jersey Historic Sites Council today announced the recipients of 23rd Annual Historic Preservation Awards to honor projects and groups or persons dedicated to preserving the state’s history.

Held at the Hunterdon County Historic Courthouse in Flemington this afternoon, the annual awards ceremony honors, among others, the preservation of a historic farmstead in Harmony Township; the restoration of a historic home in Absecon, century-old gardens in Short Hills, an old castle at Felician College in Rutherford and historic dams in Princeton.

“The hard working groups and individuals who preserve our state’s storied history are very deserving of these honors and it is important to the Christie Administration that their important work is recognized,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “They are working to preserve our link to the past, provide lessons for the present and ensure an inheritance for the future. Thanks to their tireless efforts and commitment, our state’s heritage and architectural legend are sustained and our quality of life in New Jersey is improved.”

Awards are made for significant contributions to the advancement of historic preservation; restorations, rehabilitations, and adaptive use plans of historic buildings and cultural landscapes; establishing innovative documentation of our historic resources which contribute to the knowledge of our past; and pioneering inventive efforts to preserve communities, buildings, archaeological sites, and other types of historic resources.

“These awards are our chance to honor the many individuals and organizations, and State, county and local governments who have worked hard to preserve New Jersey’s historic places,” said Dan Saunders, Administrator and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer.  “It was a difficult year for Historic Preservation with the loss of hundreds of historic buildings to Superstorm Sandy. The awards are a great opportunity for us to look at the positive achievements of 2012.”

2013 Historic Preservation Award Winners

Preservation Of Van Nest-Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead (Harmony)

When the state Division of Parks and Forestry acquired the property now known as Van Nest-Hoff-Vannatta Farmstead in 2000, it was part of an initiative to expand a corridor managed by Spruce Run Recreation Area.  Recognizing the property includes approximately 100 acres of active farmland, including a seven acre parcel containing 18th and 19th century structures, the Harmony Township Historic Preservation Commission initiated an active role in the stewardship of the site. The township’s HPC established relationships with professionals to guide the preservation and developed strong partnerships and support from corporations, non-profit organizations and the public. The historic farmstead is open to visitors daily.

Restoration Of The ca. 1863 John Doughty House (Absecon)

When Robert McMullin died in 2000, he had already ensured his ancestral home in Absecon – which dates back to 1770 – would be preserved for future generation by donating it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The present owners bought the house from the state, agreeing to abide by the protective easements placed on the property and to properly restore the building according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Restoration. The project, which took 10 years to complete, included restoration of the house, the ca. 1840 barn, corn crib, root cellar, early 20th century playhouse, two chicken coops, and the dog house – at a total cost of $500,000.

Phase I Restoration And Rehabilitation Of Greenwood Gardens (Short Hills)

Greenwood Gardens, in Short Hills, is a 28-acre formal Italianate garden, first developed in 1906. When property owner Peter Blanchard died in 2000, his son Peter P. Blanchard III, proceeded with plans to fulfill his father’s wish for the property’s long-term preservation. In 2005, with the help of a New Jersey Historic Trust grant, Greenwood Gardens completed a Conditions Assessment – which made the first recommendations for the stabilization, restoration and rehabilitation of Greenwood’s historic resources. They were incorporated into the Phase I Restoration and Rehabilitation Project, which was completed in 2011 after 2-1/2 years of construction at a cost of $5 million.

Interior Restoration And Adaptive Use Project At Iviswold Castle, Felician College (Rutherford)

In 1887, noted architect William H. Miller transformed a simple three-story home into Iviswold Castle for David B. Ivison, a New York publisher. It was purchased by Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1942 and was used as a library with classrooms. But when Felician College purchased the castle in 1997, efforts were made to restore its forgotten character. A study, funded largely by a planning grant from New Jersey Historic Trust, revealed decorative painted ceilings, walnut paneling and wood floors from the original castle. Exterior restoration began in 2004, while planning for interior restoration began in 2007, involving the adaptive use for the college.

Mountain Lakes Preserve Historic Dams Rehabilitation (Princeton)

Princeton Township is awarded for the rehabilitation of the Mountain Lake dams, which involved a complicated mix of historic preservation, conservation, dam safety and environmental and engineering requirements. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Mountain Lake was created and used for the production of ice for local homes and businesses. The township acquired the Mountain Lake Preserve in 1987, but the dams had fallen into disrepair. Historic features and archaeologically sensitive areas were protected during the rehabilitation of the dams from 2010-2012. Stones from the original construction that washed downstream were used in the rehabilitation, while archaeological monitoring uncovered portions of the original ice wall and several preserved ice tools.

Picatinny Arsenal Historic Districts Website

An interactive multimedia website hosted by U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal was created in advance of the demolition of over 30 structures within five Historic Districts at the installation. Through innovative design, the project team – consisting of historians, cultural resource specialists, and a graphic designer – produced a customized web site that serves as a model for cataloguing, recording, and telling the stories of historic buildings on a government installation.  It also provides a means to digitally inventory all structures in the districts, fully document those slated for demolition, and present rich interpretive context.

Raritan Landing Archaeology (Piscataway) – Public Education Package

Little visible evidence suggests that the area around the highly-travelled intersection of River Road and Route 18 was a thriving community consisting of multi-storied warehouses, mills, a tavern, bake house, blacksmith and cooper’s shops, and numerous houses and barns. In 2000, the Department of Transportation began one of the state’s largest historical archaeological data recovery projects at this site, known as Raritan Landing. The project involved public outreach informing of important archaeological discoveries, tours, and a website describing the site’s weekly excavation updates. The data found resulted in school lesson plans, a video and a book

Archaeological Investigation For The I-95 Scudder Falls Bridge Improvement Project (Ewing)

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission conducted archaeological survey for the Scudder Falls Bridge Improvement project over the Delaware River in Ewing. The survey identified a significant pre-historic archaeological site, known as Reeder’s Creek West, on a high river floodplain terrace.  The survey found 15,898 Native American artifacts and 19 features dating from 3150 B.C. and A.D. 1430.  The investigation contributes to our understanding of how people lived in the middle Delaware River valley before European colonization.

Archaeological Investigation Of The Standard Chlorine Chemical Company Site As Part Of Site Remediation (Kearny)

Experimental archaeological recovery techniques were employed during the construction of a remediation slurry wall around the perimeter of the Standard Chlorine Chemical Co. project site in Kearny. The Pre-Contact period site was identified and it contained evidence of Native American tool production along the banks of the Hackensack River during the Woodland period. This work has produced a methodology for recovering significant information on deeply buried archaeological sites for both future deep excavation projects in other landforms.

Morris County Cultural Resources Application

The Cultural Resources Inventory Application project in Morris County incorporates traditional survey methods and the creation of an intuitive, dynamic and customizable web-based application to house the survey data and display of the exact location of a historic entity in space and time. The CRI app allows for continuous status changes – instant updates of historic sites that have been demolished or relocated, creating a “chain of evidence” providing exact facts as to where it was relocated, when it was demolished and when it was locally designated.

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