Open House – October 17 2009

Posted in programs & activities, work plan / schedule on October 9th, 2009 by wpw

We’re going to open the house to the public on October 17, 2009, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Drop in for a look to see how we’re doing on the restoration; learn more about colonial times and the Phillipsburg of old.

Phillipsburg Area Historical Society website

Posted in programs & activities on September 26th, 2009 by flg

The Society has a new website and it looks like a good place to spend some time—lots of information and many links to local places of historic interest. Seems to cover Greenwich, Pohatcong, Lopatcong, and says it will even cross the river to Easton. Good photos, too (disclosure: I took many of them). The URL is

Our Application for a $247,000 Grant

Posted in programs & activities, Uncategorized on September 15th, 2009 by flg

Monday night the Warren County Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund committee met to review presentations from five organizations seeking funding, including the Phillipsburg Area Historical Society’s application for the Roseberry Homestead.  We are requesting a grant of $247,000 for the initial phases of our efforts to stabilize and preserve the house.  Frank Greenagel made the PowerPoint presentation that included brief highlights about the house itself, the probable client for whom it was built (John Tabor Kempe), the purpose and general plan of the preservation effort, and a brief outline of the community involvement to date (the number of volunteers who’ve put in time, amount of contributions, etc). The presentation started out on a high note because of the strong representation of people from Phillipsburg and the immediate area in support of the application, including Mayor Wyant, Council President Dave DeGerolamo, Councilman Jim Shelly, and another 12-15 people—PAHS President Wayne Sherrer, Vice President Randy Piazza, Scott Curzi, Rich & Pamela Backes, Gil Greene, Steve Zarbatany, Dave Detrick, Bill Woodall, Steve Ellis, and many others (we didn’t get a complete list). The presentation was well-received by the committee and we expect they will schedule a visit to the homestead within the next couple weeks. (we’ll let you know—it would be good to have a number of  our volunteers there as well.) No decision on the grant will be made until the County Freeholders’ meeting in early December, but at this point we believe there is reason to be optimistic.

Earlier in the day Dr. Greenagel met with two members of the State Historic Preservation Office in Trenton to brief them on our plans and progress on the restoration. It is fair to report that they expressed considerable enthusiasm for the project, said we had assembled a strong professional group to work with us (architect Michael Margulies, preservation specialist Chris Frey, archaeologist  Jim Lee, etc.) and suggested we begin to talk to the State’s Historic Trust office about future funding. Greenagel also filed a grant application with the state’s Historical Commission, seeking $13,000 to fund research and interpretation of the wall paintings and stenciling in the house. The prospects for that application are more cloudy because there is only about $216,000 available from the Historical Commission and there are 75 applicants. Those aren’t great odds, but it is worth while to begin to get our name out there.

We’ve post edthe PowerPoint slide show as a PDF file here.  Many thanks to Bill Woodall, our technical guy for handling the LCD projector, etc., which at least one other presenter that evening was not able to manage at all. Bill will also unveil the new PAHS website on Thursday evening at the membership meeting.

more on the wall paintings

Posted in programs & activities, Uncategorized on August 7th, 2009 by flg

Yesterday I met with Ann Eckert Brown of Warwick, Rhode Island. She is the author of American Wall Stenciling, 1790-1840 (University Press of New England, 2003), and one of the few acknowledged experts on the topic. She spent an hour examining the paintings and stenciling in the parlor, the kitchen and the hall, and it is fair to report that she was astonished. She wanted to spend a day examining the remnants of what was fairly extensive painting and stenciling in those rooms. She identified traces that I had overlooked, and talked about where to look and what to look for. She took many photos, which will supplement those on the CD I gave her of ones we had made. She said she intended to return when the restoration work begins. Actually, “restoration,” is the wrong term, for we intend to preserve, not restore the paintings. If our dating for the house proves accurate, these are some of the earliest wall paintings in the mid-Atlantic and may indeed be one of the defining characteristics of the Roseberry Homestead.

daisies in the parlor

daisies in the parlor

She gave me a copy of her book, which I will lend to anyone interested. We actually exchanged books—I gave her a copy of my Historic Churches of Warren County book. We agreed to stay in touch.  There are no examples of any early wall painting in New Jersey in her book—she said she had tried to find some, but was unsuccessful. Now she has some great examples for the next edition!

meeting set on Historic Preservation grant

Posted in programs & activities on August 7th, 2009 by flg

Our application for a Historic Preservation grant from the Warren County Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund has been scheduled for September 14, a Monday evening at 8:40 pm. We will be making a short PowerPoint presentation to the committee, and I assume there will be an opportunity for questions from the committee. Within a few days immediately following that meeting, the committee will visit the Roseberry House for a tour. Both are critical to our success in obtaining a grant.

I’m told one of the things the committee looks for is community support. There hasn’t been enough of that in the past. But things have changed. We can point to the large and enthusiastic attendance during the Ole Towne festival, the number of contributions received recently, and the number of volunteers working on the house and on genealogical and research projects connected to the history of the place. Your presence at the meeting on the 14th would be an unmistakable signal of our commitment. Please mark that date on your calendars.

follow-up to the Festival

Posted in programs & activities on July 30th, 2009 by flg

We’re still pretty euphoric about the crowd we drew and their reactions to what has been accomplished on the house. But two reactions were consistently voiced—why wait until late September to have another meeting of the Phillipsburg Area Historical Society? and What kind of programs are we going to be presenting here in addition to opening the place for school tours? Clearly, we need to form a small committee to work on those issues—enough people to be representative of different perspectives but few enough to get something done. Ed Saultz and I will get things rolling in the next week or two with a list of some possibilities. We’ll post that list here and try to conduct an online poll, and we’ll talk to people who offered some suggestions.

You can also add a suggestion by leaving a note in the Comments panel below. Don’t be afraid—you can’t wreck anything!