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Tell the National Trust that New Jersey Matters! Vote Today

June 20, 2011

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected the local advocacy groups for two New Jersey landmarks to be a part of their 2011 “This Place Matters Community Challenge.” The Embankment Preservation Coalition (Jersey City) and Main Street Maple Shade are competing against 98 other local preservation advocacy groups nationwide for one of three top prizes of up to $25,000. Your vote can help them win!

The Harsimus Branch Embankment, Jersey City

The Embankment Preservation Coalition is  the leading voice in support of preserving Jersey City’s landmark Pennsylvania Railroad Harsimus Branch Embankment. This turn-of-the-century elevated rail embankment, listed as one of PNJ’s “10 Most Endangered” in 2006, is threatened with demolition to make way for residential development. Demolition would not only erase the landmark itself but would also have immediate impacts on the approximately 300 properties and thousands of residents along the half-mile length of the site. Through dedicated advocacy and events, the Embankment Preservation Coalition aims to preserve and revitalize this rare surviving remnant of Jersey City’s days as a rail hub, one of few remaining green spaces in the area,  as a unique historic recreational green space.

Main Street Maple Shade is working to enhance and revitalize downtown Maple Shade, a classic South Jersey town. Building off intense civic pride and a determination to preserve and improve

Clock Tower, downtown Maple Shade

Maple Shade’s downtown, locals pulled together and earned the town a Main Street designation in just two weeks. Through events, advocacy, and education, Main Street Maple Shade is maintaining historic downtown Maple Shade’s rightful place in a vibrant local economy.

Historic preservation often depends upon local advocacy. These local groups are working hard to save New Jersey heritage, and they need your help! Click here to learn more about the National Trust’s “This Place Matters Community Challenge” and vote before June 30 to secure up to $25,000 for these Garden State treasures!

ACT NOW: Your Voice Can Help Fund NJ’s Heritage

June 7, 2011

It’s that time again: state budget season.

We all know that the state budget can significantly impact historic preservation in New Jersey, and FY 2012 will be no different. In FY 2011, four NJ heritage icons: Battleship New Jersey, the Old Barracks Museum, Save Ellis Island and the Morven Museum and Garden; were slated to lose state funding entirely. As a quick fix last year, the budget carved out $4 million from the New Jersey Cultural Trust to sustain the Battleship  and the Old Barracks. The long term agenda was to redirect the four history icons above to the New Jersey Historical Commission for funding, which is what the Governor has proposed for FY 2012. Unfortunately, the proposed budget schedules the Commission to receive only $2.7 million in FY 2012, despite the fact that the New Jersey Hotel & Motel Occupancy Tax, which funds the Commission grants,  is estimated to draw in $70 million for FY 2012.

The New Jersey History Advocates have made it easy for you to learn more and Read more…

ACT NOW: Urge Your Representative in Congress to Support Historic Preservation Funding

May 12, 2011

Right now, Congress is making important decisions about the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, and funding for historic preservation programs is in jeopardy.  All funding for the Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America programs as been eliminated for FY

Photo courtesy of Matt H. Wade

2012. While the administration’s budget does propose desperately-needed increases to State Historic Preservation Office funding, only Congressional support can secure these increases.

Your Representative needs to hear from YOU, by MAY 17, that federal funding for historic preservation matters in your community. 

Ask you representative to sign onto the “Dear Colleague” letter, sponsored by Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus co-chairs Michael Turner and Russ Carnahan, that requests $70 million for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), and ask that they also submit a programmatic request to fund the HPF at that amount for FY 2012.

Right now, New Jersey has NO representatives signed on Read more…

Exploring Modern Architecture in New Jersey: A Student’s Perspective UPDATE

April 20, 2011

a guest post written by Alyson Goldman
Alyson is a junior majoring in Art History at Rutgers University. She is researching Modern architecture in NJ. She can be reached at

After the success of the previous NJ Modern blog post, it’s time for an update. Everyone who has emailed has been so helpful and kind- I greatly appreciate it.

After some organizing, updating and reassessing, this is where I’m at:

The end goal of my phase of this project is to create a Bergen County binder of all of the research I’ve compiled and information on the sites I am writing about, including one large bibliography. I am planning to write a summary of each site explaining its significance and relationship to Modern architecture.  Each summary will have a few pictures to accompany it.

The Cliffside Park Municipal Building, designed by Romeo Aybar, 1979

With the help of a friend who works at the State Historic Preservation Office in Trenton, I was able to photocopy previous historic sites surveys that mention the sites I am focusing on. Many thanks to the HPO! These previous surveys allowed me to find addresses of buildings, detailed descriptions, and dates erected, along with more buildings to include. This information is going to be extremely helpful when I sit down to write and organize information about each site. The last bit of research I am planning to conduct will continue at Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers. They sent me a list of architectural resources that they have which will be extremely helpful.

Picture taking has been my favorite part of this project so far. One week in March, I went on another photographing adventure, taking a friend along for the ride. I’ve found it’s really helpful to have a navigator/friend to help find buildings- and certainly more fun! We set out very ambitiously, planning to photograph six sites: the Bergen Community College Central Building (Paramus), White Manna (Hackensack), the Cliffside Park Municipal Building, the Fort Lee Memorial Municipal Building, the Crystal Diner (Dumont), and the Rosengren House (Woodcliff Lake). I was the most excited to see the Rosengren House, as I have found that in surveying, houses are often the most interesting- both to find and photograph!

We started at Bergen Community College, after finding a parking space and consulting a map of the school that I had printed out beforehand, we located what we believed was the Central Building, only to find out it was under construction!

The Fort Lee Memorial Municipal Building: functional elegance

The next stop was the Cliffside Municipal Building which was not too hard to find. It was built in 1979 by the celebrated New Jersey architect Romeo Aybar, who won awards from the community for this building. It is said to represent a fortress. It certainly looks sturdy- made of brick and stone with very narrow vertical string windows on the primary façade. These unique windows are simple, and act as decorative elements on the otherwise stripped-down brick.

About ten minutes away is the Fort Lee Memorial Municipal Building. This building emphasizes simple modern materials, but also includes many small decorative details. The window surrounds include a beautiful rope pattern that, coupled with gilding on the doors and recessed column references, shows unexpected glamour and elegance in a functional building.

The next stop was White Manna in Hackensack. The restaurant is shockingly small. Although we didn’t eat there that day, I know firsthand that the place serves a really good burger. It was built in

White Manna: a classic New Jersey diner

1937 and is considered one of the country’s classic diners. This restaurant exemplifies the diner culture that is an important, and endangered, aspect of American and New Jersey history. (Check out PNJ’s 2010 list of the “10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey,” which includes a listing for “Historic Diners of New Jersey.”)

Next up: another famous diner, the Crystal Diner in Dumont. This diner is a little less flashy than White Manna; it was built earlier, exemplifying the railroad car style.

Lastly, we tried to find the Rosengren House. “Just one more!” I told my friend, and I would let him go home. But when we arrived at the address in Woodcliff Lake, we found the well-obscured site under construction. Does the Rosengren House still exist? Is it being added on to, or has it been demolished? This is going to require more research, and I could use help: if you have any information about this house, please contact me at the email above.

All in all, I’m calling it a successful trip: I got four out of six sites surveyed. This leaves about five sites on my list unphotographed. Join me for my next photographing adventure, which will include some buildings at Ramapo College, some at Felician College and the Mahwah Police Station.  Stay tuned for more Modern New Jersey!

Statement Regarding PNJ Restructuring

March 24, 2011


Contact: John D.S. Hatch, AIA, Preservation New Jersey Immediate Past President – (609) 883-8383

March 24, 2011 – The Board of Directors of Preservation New Jersey (PNJ) regrets to announce the departure of its Executive Director, Ron Emrich.  PNJ is undergoing a financial restructuring and is undertaking a strategic planning process to position PNJ for future growth and increased impact.

Ron Emrich, who has served as PNJ’s Executive Director since 2003, will continue his duties through March 31, 2011.

“Preservation NJ will continue to offer advice and preservation support as it has for the past 32 years,” said PNJ President Mary-Anna Holden.  “Ron Emrich has been an invaluable leader whose experience has added greatly to the organization’s national reputation in addition to its traditional state-wide role.”

“As the recession has challenged many other non-profit organizations, PNJ has not been able to escape a similar circumstance.  The Board is developing a five-year strategic plan that will continue its successful brands – the Building Industry Network, the 10 Most Endangered Places annual listing; PNJNet; the Preservation Blog; CAMP (an assistance mentoring program for historic preservation commissions and planning and zoning board officials) – while reinventing itself to more productively utilize Senior Programs Director Stephanie Cherry-Farmer’s skills, and capitalize on the talents and expertise of its current and former boards of directors,” Mrs. Holden continued.

“As the only state-wide non-profit promoting historic preservation, we rely upon individual and corporate-giving generosity for our existence and will be examining long-term sustainability and growth of the organization as part of the strategic planning process.”

Two historic properties in NJ make the 2011 Historic Hotels of America list!

March 18, 2011

a guest post by Michael Hirsch, PNJ member and Board Member, Wildwood’s Doo Wop Preservation League.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation‘s Historic Hotels of America program has listed two New Jersey properties for 2011, including the first motel ever to make the list. The Caribbean Motel in Wildwood Crest joins the ranks of over 235 lodging establishments recognized by the Historic Hotels of America Association for their commitment to preserving and maintaining their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance.  This prestigious designation will further encourage preservation of the Doo Wop motels of the Wildwoods and the culture of the 1950’s and ‘60’s that these kitschy beach motels symbolize to so many people.

To be selected for this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized as having historic significance.

Cape May County now has two properties listed; in addition to the Caribbean Motel, The Chalfonte Hotel in Cape May was also selected for inclusion in 2011. The Chalfonte Hotel and the Caribbean Motel are ideal examples of the diversity encompassed in this list and in New Jersey’s historic resources: The Chalfonte was built in 1876, and because of its location south of the Mason-Dixon Line, honors its Confederate past with southern-style hospitality. The Caribbean Motel was built in 1957 and features the very first plastic-palm tree in The Wildwoods, a helical -cantilevered ramp, and angled-jalousie windows.

(CHECK IT OUT: Want to see the Caribbean Motel up close and personal? Join PNJ for our upcoming Doo Wop Mid-Century Marvel experience!)

For more information on the Historic Hotels of America Association, visit their website. Next time your planning a vacation, remember to check out Historic Hotels of America for lodging with a “sense of place!”

Christie Vetoes tax credit bill

February 18, 2011

Stating that it was part of politics in Trenton as usual, the governor vetoed the just-passed historic tax credit bill today.  More information, including we hope a stated reason for its veto, as details become available.


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