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 www.phillipsburghistory.org
The Warren County Municipal & Charitable Conservancy Trust Fund committee will visit the Roseberry house on Friday, October 2, at noon. All are welcome. We’ll conduct guided tours of the house for members of the committee, and respond to any questions they have. This is the last step in the process of evaluating projects that have applied for funding. The visit was originally scheduled for two days, Friday and Saturday, but the Saturday visit has been cancelled.
Pamela and Richard Backes located an 1816 Bible belonging to John Mackey Roseberry (b. 1802) and his wife Sarah (Sally) Kline (b.1805). They were married at the German Evangelical Church in Easton on November 18, 1824. John Mackey Roseberry was the son of Michael and Margaret Mackey Roseberry. The Bible contains a set of pasted in pages with the family’s birth entries from 1802 to 1829, and death entries from 1828 to 1864. There are also marriage entries. The only other surname mentioned is Shipman of Lopatcong. The Backes purchased the Bible and have donated it to the Phillipsburg Historical Society.
The Bible itself is quite interesting; it’s leatherbound, measures 11 x 17 and weighs about 10 pounds. Printed in London, it contains 38 plates (illustrations). There is also a pasted in news clipping regarding the death of Mrs. Elizabeth Mackey Lovell, a daughter of Michael Roseberry and sister to John Mackey Roseberry. Quite a nice find!
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.
We’ve received the bronze plaque that signifies to all that the Roseberry Homestead is a listed property on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a singular honor, as it means that the building is of unusual architectural merit (or that something of historic note happened there). The more we talk to experts in historic preservation the greater is our understanding of the exceptional character of the building. It is a perfectly proportioned Georgian manor that would not have looked out of place in New York or Philadelphia. Although the date notes 1766-1774 as its construction period, we are now more inclined to think that 1750-1770 may be more likely. Our research continues.
For the moment we’ll place the plaque by the rear entrance, but when the front steps and porch are replaced, it will be installed by the front entrance (with an appropriate ceremony).