Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Preservation New Jersey’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Places 2013

Each year, Preservation New Jersey releases a list of their "Ten Most Endangered Historic Places"in our state as a way to build awareness for landmarks and historic resources that are in danger of disappearing.

As with animal and plant species, sometimes the average person will look at items on the list and wonder why they are worth saving. So, educating the people of that area and in NJ is an important part of this preservation and conservation process.

Places listed as "most endangered" have architectural and historic integrity coupled with an identified threat to their existence.

Illustration of Inclined Plane 11 East in Bloomfield from Scientific American, May 20, 1882. The house in the upper-left represents the Collins House, but is not an accurate depiction of the house’s location. via Collins House photo gallery

In my own Essex County, the 18th century Collins House in Bloomfield is one site that is historically and architecturally significant. It is one of the earliest houses built in Bloomfield and the only one that survives in its original open space landscape.

Very few of these "East Jersey Cottages" are left and it also has ties to local transportation and industrial history by way of the Morris Canal and the adjacent paper mill.

The Morris Canal Rockaway River Aqueduct, in Denville, also made the list because of the threat of demolition.

Collins House has been vacant since 2005 and is in poor condition and the Township of Bloomfield considers the house beyond restoration. But The Friends of the Collins House was formed to protect and raise awareness about the house.

image via www.preservationnj.org
It's a situation that is typical of historical preservation projects. The biggest problems are often not the actual physical preservation process itself, but the lack of public awareness about the significance of the place, a lack of support from the municipality, county or state and a lack of funding.

The Morris Canal Rockaway River Aqueduct is located on Diamond Spring Road, in Denville Township, Morris County. It is already part of the Morris Canal Historic District and is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.

What remains of the components of the canal structure (masonry piers and abutments) are threatened with demolition by Denville Township in an attempt to alleviate flooding along the Rockaway River. It's not even clear about the ownership of the aqueduct site.

Groups like Preservation New Jersey acknowledge that consideration has to be given to serious flooding, but wants options that do not require a loss of historically significant elements. They point to similar structures, such as the Mule Bridge Pier in Boonton, that were saved and restored, and enrich the community's history.

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