Morris County Reviews 23 Historic Sites for Preservation Funding
Published on June 29, 2023
Trust Fund Review Board Recommends $3.6 Million in Grants
The Morris County Board of County Commissioners was asked last night to approve $3.6 million in grants from the county’s Preservation Trust Fund to help restore, preserve and further protect 23 historic sites in 15 towns across Morris County.
Most of the funding recommended by the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund Review Board, about 88 percent, is directed toward construction grants for 17 of the projects. Roughly 12 percent is being recommended for non-construction activity at six other historic sites. Those grants would support design and specification work for future construction on four sites, preservation planning for one site, and research and development necessary to submit a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for one other site.
View photos from a May 13 Review Board Visit to Recommended Sites
“I want to commend the staff and all the volunteers. They do a phenomenal job evaluating these applications and making recommendations on how to invest our dollars. People often thank the Commissioners for the money, but it ultimately comes from the taxpayers, who always overwhelmingly support these programs and it’s fortunate that they do,” stated Commissioner Stephen Shaw, liaison to the Historic Preservation Trust Fund Review Board.
To date, Morris County has awarded 512 grants amounting to nearly $46 Million to assist in the preservation, protection and restoration of 122 historical properties since 2003, when grants were first issued for protecting historic sites through Morris County’s Preservation Trust Fund. The sites are in 34 towns around Morris County.
“For our application review process, the county’s historic preservation consultant, who is independent, reviewed 23 applications to make sure they conformed to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. These are very important federal guidelines set during the historic acts that have been passed since the 1960s, with antecedents going back even further than that. We want to be at the highest level with tax dollars,” said Larry Fast, Chair of the Review Board.
“Twelve of the 23 projects received full funding requested for the projects,” Fast added.
View the PowerPoint Presented to the Board of Commissioners
He also noted that sponsors of different sites often file for new grants year after year to cover costs incurred for different phases of a preservation effort, from planning a restoration to completing the work.
See the Full List of Projects Considered This Year by the Review Board
Among the projects recommended for approval by the Commissioners are:
Obadiah LaTourette Grist & Saw Mill, Washington Township
The circa 1750 Mill represents an example of early industrial architecture and an important contributing resource to the register listed German Valley Historic District. The Mill is a vital component of the local economy having provided a market for farm products and a business/meeting place for much of its history. The recommended grant of $470,500 will provide for stabilization of the stone foundation including installation of a cofferdam and micropiles underneath the foundation with a new concrete cap to help control the impacts of the river flowing against the mill’s anterior foundation walls for nearly three centuries.
Darress Theatre, Boonton Township
Located in downtown Boonton, the Darress Theatre opened in 1921 as a silent film and vaudeville theatre. The building is certified as contributing to the Boonton Main Street Historic District and was purchased by the Town of Boonton in December of 2020 with the intention to renovate the theatre to become a regional performing arts center. The recommended grant of $44,400 will provide for an update of the 2022 Master Plan to meet Preservation Plan requirements including identifying historic features, preservation philosophy, methodology and treatment approach.
The Commissioners anticipate taking action on the recommendations provided at the next work session meeting scheduled for July 12.
Photo 1: Members of the Historic Preservation Trust Fund Review Board during their May 13th visit to the Kountze Mansion, currently an educational and administrative building for the Delbarton School.
Photo 2: Riverside view of the Obadiah LaTourette Grist & Saw Mill in Washington Township.
Photo 3: Street view of the Darress Theatre in Boonton Township.