TRENTON — The Department of Environmental Protection’s State Historic Preservation Office and the New Jersey Historic Sites Council today announced the recipients of the 24th Annual Historic Preservation awards. The awards, given out during National Preservation Month in New Jersey, honor projects, groups or people dedicated to preserving the state’s rich history.
Held at the Historic Prallsville Mill in Stockton today, the annual awards ceremony honored, among others, the preservation of an old jail in Mays Landing, the rehabilitation and repurposing of a grand old opera house in Woodbury, the adaptive reuse of a historic barn at a corporate complex, and the restoration of an Ice Yacht.
“Today’s award winners, who have worked so hard to preserve our state’s storied history, truly deserve these honors,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “It is vitally important to the Christie Administration that their work is recognized. They are preserving important links to the past and ensuring future generations will be able to enjoy and treasure them as well. We thank them for their efforts and commitment to ensure that our state’s heritage and architectural legend are sustained, which improves the quality of life for all residents of New Jersey.”
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, organizations and corporations, 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. “We have a wonderfully diverse group this year. In a year where so much focus has been on the hard work of recovering after Sandy, it is uplifting to see groups working to preserve New Jersey’s historic resources across the State.”
2014 Historic Preservation Award Winners
Phyllis Catanosa, preservation advocate for the Reconstruction of the Historic Hereford Inlet Lighthouse (North Wildwood, Cape May County)
Phyllis Catanoso has served as the focal point for the preservation and reconstruction of the historic Hereford Inlet Lighthouse since it was leased to North Wildwood in 1982. Her volunteer time and efforts, in conjunction with her inquiries dating back to 1963, made it possible to secure the property via a lease agreement between North Wildwood and the DEP, which owns the property. Phyllis and a legion of volunteers invested time, expertise, and hard work that culminated in the completion of restoration in June 2011. The Lighthouse stands today as a symbol of preservation, as well as Catanoso’s commitment to the lighthouse and her community.
James Van Zandt Mansion (Skillman, Somerset County)
This Italianate Villa style house, built in the 1860s, is located within the Blawenburg Historic District. Van Zandt, a lawyer and gentleman farmer, constructed the house, highlighting both his stature within the community and his high sense of style. The Van Zandts moved from the mansion in the 1920s when it became an ancillary building to the New Jersey State Village for Epileptics. The mansion remained part of the village until middle of the century when it became the Thomas M. Cooper Training Academy for the New Jersey Department of Corrections, housing a work release program for minimum-security inmates. The mansion fell into disuse in the last decades of the 20th century. It was largely abandoned when the Friends of the Homeless Animals viewed it for the first time in 2001. Cheryl Mills, President of FOHA, bought the mansion and its 10 acres in 2002. Restoration was completed in October 2013.
Lawnside School (Lawnside, Camden County)
Built in 1915 and expanded twice in 1922 and 1953, the Lawnside School was constructed by the Center Township Board of Education as a school for the community of Lawnside, an early 19th century African American community incorporated in 1926 as the only self-governed African American municipality north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The school stands as one of the last remaining historic buildings that has tangible and intangible ties to the establishment and operation of Lawnside Borough. The project is a joint venture among Lawnside, the Camden County Freeholder Board, Camden County Housing Association, Camden County Improvement Authority and Conifer Realty, LLC.
Petty’s Run Archaeological Explorations and Site Preservation (Trenton, Mercer County)
In 2005, the state commenced plans for the re-design and upgrade of the park surrounding the New Jersey State House. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the narrow gorge where Petty’s Run drops into the Delaware River flood plain was the site of multiple water-powered milling operations. The historical and archaeological importance of the site lies in its role as a critical focus of Colonial and early Federal Period water-powered industry in the Delaware Valley. Petty’s Run played an important part in the Revolutionary War, with the Continental Army being supplied with steel from the steel works and with gun barrels and bayonets from the plating mill. The site was formally opened to the public on May 14, 2013.
Old Atlantic County Jail (Mays Landing, Atlantic County)
The Old Atlantic County Jail, constructed in 1879, is the only remaining building of the original Mays Landing jail complex built prior to the 1984-85 construction of a new prison and court complex. Despite its contribution to the Mays Landing National Register Historic District, the old jail sat empty for many years and fell into disrepair. The project undertaken by the county required structural stabilization. The roof was rebuilt with salvaged wood truss members and cast iron connection components, and regionally produced lumber replaced missing or severely deteriorated elements. Missing exterior “Jersey Ironstone” wall stones were found and reinstalled into their original positions. The jail is now used for county offices, with the jail cell on the second floor restored as an interpretative jail cell museum.
Adaptive Reuse of the Ballantine Barn (Parsippany, Morris County)
GlaxoSmithKline, a steward of Ballantine Barn, one of the significant cultural resources in Parsippany-Troy Hills, has committed to preserving a piece of the community’s heritage. The property once belonged to Peter H. Ballantine of the Newark-based brewery family. The remaining barn, a highly visible icon located on the corporate campus, fell into disrepair. The historic barn was determined eligible for listing on the State Register of Historic Places in 1984, and GSK incorporated its conservation into the plans for its corporate campus. The company spent a decade working on the project to make the building an asset to the corporate campus.
Port Colden United Methodist Church (Port Colden, Warren County)
Built in 1893, Port Colden United Methodist Church is an excellent example of the
Carpenter Gothic Style architecture. But by the early 2000s, the church began showing signs of age. In addition, the original configuration of the main entrance of the church had been altered and the steeple had been removed due to structural concerns. In 2008, the Trustees of the Port Colden United Methodist Church established a restoration timeline for the church building, based on a preservation plan to restore the steeple atop the bell tower and return the main stair to its original configuration.
GG Green Building (Woodbury, Gloucester County)
GG Green is a unique historic rehabilitation project that restored a local landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places to serve as an anchor for downtown revitalization. The building was constructed in 1880 as a 1,100-seat Victorian opera house designed by local architect Paschal Medara and financed by patent medicine entrepreneur Colonel George Gil Green. An embodiment of the city’s 19th century prosperity, it occupied an entire downtown city block. It became vacant after being listed on the National Register. Local stakeholders and historic preservation advocates led an extensive campaign to save the opera house. In 2011, RPM proposed purchasing and rehabilitating the building to its original character and adapt it to senior citizen housing. RPM acquired the site in 2012 and completed construction within 18 months.
A Guide to the Architecture of Hightstown Houses (Hightstown, Mercer County)
Author Richard Pratt, a Hightstown resident, is an architect, preservationist, local business owner, and volunteer. As a member of the local planning board, he commenced compiling design guidelines for the Hightstown Historic Preservation Commission to educate local residents, an effort that evolved into a reference book. In 2012, Pratt self-published the book and offered it for sale to the public. Its pages offer the history and growth of Hightstown, the styles of houses that exist in Hightstown, and parameters to guide owners of old and historic properties through maintenance and renovations.
Saddle Brook: A Portrait of Our Past (Saddle Brook, Bergen County)
Jack Wasdyke, a life-long resident of Saddle Brook, has always been interested in local history. His love of history led to a lifetime of research that culminated in his appointment as Saddle Brook Township historian in 1977. It led to his writing and publishing Saddle Brook: A Portrait of our Past, The Fascinating Story of Saddle Brook from its Prehistory to its Present. The book provides a collection of photographs, anecdotes and detailed history of the community, providing the context for a deeper understanding of how Saddle Brook evolved.
Restoration of the Ice Yacht Rocket (Red Bank, Monmouth County)
Ice boats originated in the mid-1600s in Europe and were used to transport cargo on frozen canals in the Netherlands. In 1869, the first ice boats appeared along the Hudson River as the winter recreation of affluent families with estates in the Hudson River Valley. The “Rocket” Ice Yacht was constructed in 1888 and sailed on the Navesink River in Red Bank. It is one of the largest of these ice sailing vessels, measuring 50 feet long, with 900 square feet of sail area, and is considered a Class 1 Ice Boat. The “Rocket” was stored by the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club in 1923 and eventually donated to the club by the Coley family in 1924, but suffered severe deterioration while under storage for 50 years. In 1998 a crew of volunteers met every Thursday night to work on restoring the yacht. The restored Rocket was successfully launched on March 1 of this year.