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Limited Funding Opportunities; So Much Need

July 15, 2010

On July 13, Franklin Borough held a hearing on the future of a land lease held by the Franklin Historical Society. The

The Edison Schoolhouse-Hungarian Reformed Church: another "someplace" in need of funding.

historical society owns the Edison Schoolhouse-Hungarian Reformed Church, a significant local landmark representative of Franklin’s historical ties to both Thomas Edison and America’s immigration history. When the building  was threatened by development n 2005,  the Franklin Historical Society and partners sprang into action, and after two years of work, successfully raised the funds and secured the services needed to relocate the church to its current municipally-owned site in 2007. Further work to restore the building and open it as cultural and ethnic heritage interpretive center continues, but the greatest need, the need for more funding, presents a significant obstacle to progress.

Doesn’t this story sound familiar? It is the refrain of so many of New Jersey’s significant places. In today’s economy, everything from the most celebrated state parks to landmarks of the smallest municipalities are feeling the funding pressure. Take a look at this year’s 10 Most Endangered: from foreclosure to strapped city budgets to the shut-down of independent businesses, this list alone evidences the varied affects of economic downturn on cultural heritage. The case in Franklin is made even more difficult as  the church has been relocated, rendering it ineligible for the National or State Registers, and therefore, ineligible for the vast majority of preservation grants.

Thankfully, Franklin’s municipal leadership voted to extend the historical society’s lease. However, only time will tell how sympathetic they will continue to be to the unprecedented economy that the society is up against. The same is true for many of our 10 Most and all other “someplaces” feeling the pinch. Progress will NOT occur without overwhelming support and patience. Luckily, these are things that, in some form, everyone can afford to give.

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