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Preservation Celebration: An Evening to Remember

Updated: Nov 24, 2019

On a beautiful Friday evening in mid November of 2019, over one hundred Cranbury Historical & Preservation Society members and guests gathered at the Cranbury Inn for a Preservation Celebration. The event honored four groups that worked on preservation projects in Cranbury. President Jo D. Andrews welcomed the group and gave the Invocation. The Veterans in attendance led the Flag Salute.

After dinner, Vice President, Audrey Smith introduced twenty-three of the Society’s board and committee members, who were in attendance, and the four preservation groups that were to be honored.

The first group honored was the Brainerd and Westminster Cemetery Committee of the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury. Fritz Hager explained that, years ago, many of the stones in both cemeteries were in need of repair and cleaning. Through the years, under the leadership of the Cemetery Committee and the support of the church, volunteers and professionals cleaned the stones and made the needed repairs. Both cemeteries are now in pristine condition. Members of the Cemetery Committee are Jo D. Andrews, Ken Gordon, Fritz Hager, Carol Kientz, John Kirkenir, Art Ryba, Larry White and Jeremy Moran, Superintendent.

The next group recognized was Cranbury Landmarks, Inc. Bill Bunting spoke on behalf of that group and gave the history of three preservation projects that the group accomplished over the years. The first was the saving of the Old Cranbury School from demolition. After restoring the building, Landmarks rented space in it to community groups, until the Board of Education took it over. It became Cranbury Township’s Town Hall in 2001 and now houses Cranbury Township offices and the Board of Education. In 2010, the group partnered with Cranbury Township and the Cranbury Historical & Preservation Society to reconstruct the Parsonage Barn in the Cranbury Barn Park on Cranbury Neck Road. The attractive barn, with its oldest beams dating to 1741, is used for wedding ceremonies, art show and sales, Civil War history reenactments, filming and concerts. The book, Cranbury: A New

Jersey Town from Colonial Era to the Presentby John Whiteclay Chambers II, was published by Cranbury Landmarks in 2012 and is for sale at the Cranbury Museum, the Elizabeth M. Wagner History Center and at the Cranbury Inn. Cranbury Landmarks members included Charles Amend (Clara), Bill Bunting, Anna Drago, Jim Golubieski, Marjorie Gutman, Donald Herr, Allan Kehrt, Maurice Lee (Helen), David Nissen, Dale Smith, Mahbuhbeh Stave, Virginia Swanagan and Norma Swale.

The third group honored worked on Farmland Preservation in Cranbury. David Nissen, a former Cranbury Township Planning Board, Environmental Committee, and Township Committee member, and the current Vice Chairman of the Zoning Board, reviewed Cranbury’s Farmland Preservation efforts. Since 1985, Middlesex County has preserved over 55 farms, totaling about 5000 acres, and Cranbury has preserved more than 2500 of those acres of farmland. Those recognized for their work with Farmland Preservation were Mark Berkowsky, Bill Bunting, Alan Danser, Tom Harvey, David Nissen, Donald Patterson, Betty Wagner and Tom Weidner.

The 1700s House Relocation Committee was the last group of the evening to be honored. In order to save an early 1700s house that was donated to CHPS, the Society had it moved to Millstone Park on October 1, 2019. The Society will apply to get the house on the National Register and then will seek grants to restore it. Eventually, the house will open as a museum and events for the community will be held on the property. Members are encouraged to help with fundraising and onsite work. Those recognized were a committee of four Society Board members, Steve Golisano, Karen Kelley, Bobbie Marlowe and Audrey Smith, as well as Bob Dreyling, Bill Bunting, the Golisano and Bunting families, John Chambers and others who have worked on the project.

A Silent Auction for the Society’s Preservation Fund was part of the evening. Kathie Wise, Audrey Smith, Bobbie Marlowe and Ann Solomon organized the auction, and Didi Cox assisted with the sales.

Gaylord French provided music for this memorable evening.

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