Report on the Open House

Posted in programs & activities, volunteers & sponsors on October 23rd, 2009 by wpw

Well-attended, even on a rainy blustery Saturday.


Cars line the parking area...

This way in...

This way in...


Welcome to the house!

Visitors checking the place out.

Visitors checking the place out.

I was there around 2 pm. By that time the logbook was filling nicely (about 15-20 visitors by that point). The Society was well represented by Pam and Rich Backes and their son Matt, Sue Brooks and Steve Zarbatany. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Update: We understand from Pamela & Rich that more than 50 people visited, including many seniors.  Scott Curzi deposited $90 in contributions that were gathered that day, which is a very nice total.

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.

Recollections from 40 years ago

Posted in some more history on October 6th, 2009 by flg

The following are recollections of Carol Sullivan from the 1970s about the Roseberry-Gess House. She was obviously deeply involved in the effort to preserve the place. She appended several old newspaper clippings to her e-mail which we’ll eventually post here.

About the Stenciled walls
Walter Gess was the last private owner of the property.  After selling it to the school board, Gess and his wife moved to the Midwest.  I was in touch with him in the effort to gain his support in saving the property from demolition.  He had patterns of the hand painted stencils that are on the walls of the center hallway and also on the wall in the room adjacent to the center hall.  If I’m not mistaken, he sent copies of these patterns to the Society.
The floor in the “Keeping Room”
I also remember that the random width planks that were on the floor of the keeping room were removed by the society when a church that was being demolished offered to donate the floors in the church. They were older & more in keeping with the Roseberry House.  The existing floors were not original to the house.  I don’t recall what happened to the planks that Gess installed in the room.
The Dining Room Restoration Project
The woodwork in the room that we finished (just off the keeping room) was reproduction woodwork which was purchased from Eisenhardt Lumber in Easton.  The pewter chandelair in the room was specially made and was an authentic reproduction.
We also had a fund raiser and purchased the wooden shingles that are on the keeping room.
The Front Porch
It was I and my two daughters and a few other kids that removed the roof that spanned the front of the main house.  The volunteer architect, Robert Butow, from Easton determined that it was not original to the house.
The Loft and the surprise(d) visitor
I, along with students from the Special Ed class at PBurg High, removed the plaster from the ceiling of the loft above the keeping room.  While in the process, filthy, covered with years of dust and dirt, I heard a knock on the door.  I had invited the former Governor Meyner of NJ, whose wife was the State Bicentennial chairperson, to visit the house.  The letter that he sent notifying that he accepted the invitation and announcing a date of his visit, never got to me.
There stood this important visitor at the front door, shocked at seeing this dirty, tom boy of a woman, standing there!  No formal reception, no newspaper story!  Not even a nice cup of tea!!!  Pretty embarrassing!!!  The PR opportunity was lost!

I hope my recollections of 40 years ago will be useful to you….

Express-Times article

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4th, 2009 by flg

Here’s the full text of an article in the Express-Times following the visit by the Warren County Municipal and Charitable Trust committee.

Warren County Land Preservation officials tour Roseberry Homestead as part of grant approval process

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Express-Times

PHILLIPSBURG | Frank Greenagel of the Phillipsburg Historical Society led guests through the Roseberry Homestead and pointed to holes and exposed walls that revealed secrets of the building’s past.

Wooden planks demonstrate an antiquated but reliable method of construction on one room’s bare walls. Tufts of horse hair remain preserved in limestone mortar. A colorful stencil design emerges from beneath a thin layer of paint in the parlor room.

The Georgian-style home would have cost up to 2,000 pounds to build at a time when the average yearly income was 40 pounds.

“Even in New York or Philadelphia,” Greenagel said, this would have been one of the grander homes.”

Greenagel led members of the Warren County Municipal and Charitable Conservancy Trust on a tour Friday, hoping the trust would give the historical society a grant to stabilize and preserve the home. The reconstituted historical is seeking $247,000 for a three-phase preservation project.

Greenagel said he was skittish about how the county’s land preservation office would view the newest efforts to preserve the aging house. Members of the town’s historical society got nearly $100,000 in the 1970s but failed to spend most of the money when the group fell into disarray and abandoned the cause.

“One of the things I was worried about when we applied was, ‘Do we have a bad reputation?'” Greenagel said.

The Warren County freeholders are to decide in December whether the society will receive the money.

Pat MacCallum, a member of the conservancy trust’s board, found the Roseberry Homestead inspiring.

“On a historical level, I think it’s exceptionally worthwhile,” MacCallum said. “It shows where people came from and the type of integrity they had 250 years ago.”